So it's been reported that there are other guys out there who claim to have had sex with Larry Craig at some point over the last twenty years. I'm sure that you're as shocked (shocked!) to hear that as I am. Truth be told, I am a little bit shocked: if you'd had sex with Larry Craig, wouldn't you deny it? I know I would. (That is not meant to imply that I've had sex with the Senator and am now denying it because: ewww.)
I have no particular interest in the specifics surrounding the Craig case. The Republican caucus was through with him months ago. He's had no political future since he got caught in the Minneapolis airport men's room. Almost nobody believed him before, so it's hard to imagine that there is any significant number of people whose minds have been changed by the latest revelations.
Is anyone surprised when a politician's caught lying? Politics is an ugly business. Perhaps there was a time when people became politicians out of a genuine desire to do good. And, who knows, maybe there are a few city or county council members who still do that. But it seems a given to me that by the time someone's running for statewide office or Congress, he or she wants -- and feels entitled to -- power and, eventually, financial reward. This is not to say that all politicians are the same: the lesser of two evils is still less evil, and less evil is still better than more evil. But while I've always got to pick someone to vote for, I remain acutely aware that anyone who's on the ballot is likely to be someone that I would never care to hang out with in real life.
And it starts with the deception. Politicians learn very early in their careers not to answer the question that's asked of them. Sometimes they call it not accepting the premise of the question, and sometimes the questions are unfair. But in a lot of cases, politicians reframe questions primarily to avoid telling you something that you ought to know but that they don't want you to know.
The current administration, of course, has taken this to dizzying heights (or crushing depths, depending on your choice of metaphor). Let's say, for example, that you're torturing prisoners. If someone asks you about torturing prisoners, you say that the U.S. doesn't torture prisoners. If someone asks you about specific techniques, then you refuse to comment on specific techniques. In essence, your defense becomes: if we're doing it, it isn't torture, so we don't torture people. It's ridiculous, and no one believes you, but you're spared some modicum of embarrassment by not having to admit that you're a goon.
Nobody gets far in politics by being scrupulously honest. This happens, in part, because the press and the public are lazy. Somebody says something and it gets reported and then the perception, which may have no basis in reality, gets perpetuated as fact. This is why the public debate is dominated by ideologues: no one's very interested in getting at the truth; instead, they want to make sure that the version that best promotes their interests is the version that gets reported. So you get people shouting at each other, across a vast divide.
In this sort of climate, it's no wonder that someone like Larry Craig will react the way he has. He knows that the Idaho Statesman doesn't have solid evidence of his sexual encounters, so he can deny those with impunity. It only matters if you lie if you get caught. As for the whole "I'm not gay," thing, well, in his mind, maybe he isn't. Maybe he's convinced himself that he's just some married guy who likes to suck cock. God knows that for the longest time I convinced myself that I wasn't gay, though, to be fair to myself, I accepted that I was gay and told the people who really needed to know before I started sucking cock.
Like I said: I don't care about Larry Craig. I do care about the erosion of honesty, though. Have I explained my notion of karma before? I don't believe in a cosmic bank account that tallies up your good and bad deeds and rewards or punishes you to maintain balance. You have only to look at the monumental unfairness of life to know that such a thing doesn't exist. But I do believe that every time you do something nice for someone, you increase the overall level of happiness marginally. And when there's more good out there, there's more good available, and some of it might come back your way. (Or not: you have to do good because it's its own reward, really.) Similarly, when you lie to people and you hurt people, those people are going to be unhappy and unhappy people are more likely to hurt others, and, eventually, some of that might come back to you. Again, morality should be more about doing what's right because it's right and not about avoiding punishment (When I was still a semi-observant Baptist, I made that argument to a group of other Baptist college students. They thought I'd lost my mind. They didn't get why anyone would be a Christian if not to avoid the hellfire and brimstone.), but it still pays to recognize that your actions have consequences. Every time you don't tell someone the truth, you make it slightly more likely that someone will lie to you.
Along those lines, I'd like to extend an apology to that twenty-something guy I ran into on squirt really late at night a couple of weekends ago. When I said that I should be able to get together the next morning, I really meant it, but then I somehow had three other guys lined up, so when you texted me instead of calling me, I just ignored the message. Trust me when I tell you that we would not have had a good time. You've never been fucked, and you're kind of a tiny guy, and while I do my best to be kind to virgins, my cock is really best appreciated by guys who've been opened up before. Multiple times. When I first said that I wanted to hook up, I didn't realize that you didn't have a car or a place to play and that I'd have to drive all the way to Germantown and back, twice, if I wanted to play with you. But I should have known all that the night before when we chatted, or at least I should have texted that back to you. I know you were disappointed, and I'm sorry.