Richert blog: Craig's panic mode

August 28, 2007 

As I read Dan Popkey's excellent and exhaustive coverage of Sen. Larry Craig's arrest, I was struck by the parallels between the Craig of 1982 and the Craig, evidently, of the summer of 2007.

Twenty-five years ago, Craig issued a preemptive statement denying any involvement with congressional page Leroy Williams, who alleged he had sex with three House members at age 17. Craig, then serving his first of five House terms, was the only member of Congress to issue such a statement. The preemptive move only seemed to fuel more rumors about Craig's sexual orientation.

In a May interview with the Statesman, Craig said he panicked. "I was scared, plain and simple scared," Craig told Popkey.

In June, after his arrest at a Minnesota airport, Craig seemed to panic again. He kept the lewd conduct arrest not only from his Idaho constituents, but from his Senate staff. He said he made a mistake by not consulting with an attorney, and said he now regrets pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. "In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty," Craig said in a statement late Monday afternoon. "I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

One public relations problem for Craig — among a host of them — is that people tend to be suspicious of any public figure who seems to be running around in panic mode. Panic arouses skepticism and cynicism. And in this case, as we wrote in our editorial this morning, it leaves us all with a long list of questions Craig simply isn't answering.

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