Friday, August 31, 2007
Craig Plunges Off the Narrow Edge
Sen. Larry Craig, Republican-Idaho, (shown in his Minneapolis mug shots) is set to resign momentarily, perhaps tomorrow. How the undeservedly privileged has fall!
Let us consider Cicero's admonition that, "So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge." We have seen such attempts at cleverness far too often. Of course, this arrogance can come from Democrats as well, such as a certain President Clinton. Those praised and rewarded early and often for their ability to make words mean what they want eventually begin to believe that is true.
Craig by all accounts other than his own is a bisexual or closeted homosexual man with a wife and three adult kids. If it is as it seems, he has already lived decades of deceit, likely including self-delusion.
Reading for the past few days about his dissembling following his arrest in a sting of men who cruise restrooms for homosexual sex was sleazy. Hearing the tape of his questioning by the arresting officer leaves no doubt to me that he is a professional liar. It's easier to cut him a little slack by just reading the transcript.
I have written numerous times about politicians and others, locally and nationally, who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Craig is no more appalling than many others. Yet, how curious that this trait is decidedly more concentrated on the right wing of politics, both by citizens and officials.
I had the good fortune to have my two childhood mentors — my mother and her father — raise me to tell the truth and make my lumps when necessary. That brings to mind another pertinent quote. The Washingtonian quoted U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn in 1978 as saying, "Son, always tell the truth. Then you'll never have to remember what you said the last time."
That's what it would have taken Craig in the men's room of the Minneapolis airport. Yet, that should have been his thoughts and actions when he was growing up, when he was in college, when he was single and married, and when he entered public life. True, it was harder then, but it would have prevented a life of lies and the disgrace he now owns.
I confess (if you pardon the expression) that I am pleased when a criminal comes to court saying, "I did it and am dreadfully sorry. I am here to take my punishment." Instead in violent and white-collar crimes alike, the cynical axiom How much justice can you afford? seems to hold sway. Even those caught red-handed plead innocent and try to lie and buy their way out of responsibility.
The lack of self-respect that comes with this compounded dishonesty is sad, even pathetic. In Craig's case, he can't even be called tragic. These lies were no single flaw in a noble being. This is the man who has fought vigorously for years to hold homosexuals down and deny them equality. His dishonesty ends up merely base and self-serving. He played endless games to advance and exalt himself and profit from doing so.
Alas, his duplicity and delusions have reduced him to a cartoon character. Think of Toy Story and Woody's description of Buzz Lightyear — sad, strange little man.
We can hope that he comes to and tries to live a better and an honest life. Even though he has robbed himself of honor in the process, he should not be so distraught at having his veil of deceit lifted from his sad, strange life and do himself in. Instead, he needs to atone.
We can conclude with one more from Cicero — Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?
Tags: massmarrier, honesty, closeted, gay rights, Larry Craig, Idaho, Congress