Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why did Republicans dump Craig but applaud Vitter?

Republican Senator Craig of Idaho got busted for soliciting gay sex. Republican Senator Vitter of Louisiana confessed to the illegal hiring of (presumably female) prostitutes. The Republican establishment threw Craig under the bus, forcing him to resign. The Republican establishment rallied behind Vitter, who looks like he'll hold on to his seat for now. Which of the following reasons best explains this difference in reaction:
  1. Craig's offense had to do with gay sex, and Republicans as a party are extremely homophobic. Straight sex outside of marriage (and the law) doesn't bother them so much, unless a Democrat is doing it, and then it's evidence that the person is unfit for office.
  2. The governor of Idaho is a Republican, so piling on Craig won't cause a Republican Senate seat to change hands, while the governor of Louisiana is a Democrat, so throwing Vitter out would.
I'm not sure which of these forces is more powerful in today's Republican party: anti-gay sentiment or ruthless political calculation. To figure this out, it would be extremely helpful if a Republican Senator in a state with a Republican governor would get caught hiring an (opposite-gender) prostitute. And a different Republican Senator in a state with a Democratic governor needs to get busted for cruising for same sex sex in a public restroom. Then we would have enough evidence to sort out which force is more powerful.

At the rate at which Republican sex scandals are breaking, Internal Monologue readers might not have to wait too long...

(Inspired by this TPM post.)


Blogger grishnash said...

I go with the governor theory, myself. I suspect that if the governor of Idaho were a Democrat, that Senator Craig would have just gone to therapy for a few weeks and gotten totally cured just like Ted Haggard.

8:52 AM, September 02, 2007  
Anonymous Ron said...

Hey Zac,

I have no doubt that 1 and 2 are both significant, but The NY Times (Sunday) made a good point in its articles -- namely, that Senator Craig had already pleaded guilty to a charge related to the incident by the time the story broke. Vitter et al. may be guilty as hell, but they aren't copping to any wrongdoing -- at least not yet.

Hmm... can I select "(4) All of the Above"?

- Ron

1:10 PM, September 03, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

I suppose a guilty plea is something substantive that differentiates the two.

7:42 AM, September 05, 2007  

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