When Mike Crapo appears in court today on a drunken-driving charge, what will Idahoans hear from their senior senator?
Based on what weve heard so far, we dont expect excuses and alibis. Within hours of his arrest, Crapo issued a statement admitting his mistake and assuming responsibility. Contrast that with Butch Otter then Idahos lieutenant governor who blamed a 1992 DUI arrest on whiskey-soaked tobacco and a cowboy hat that had blown off his head, causing him to swerve. Jurors were unconvinced.
Nor do we expect courtroom theatrics. Spokesman Lindsay Nothern has said Crapo does not plan to contest the charges. Contrast that with former Sen. Larry Craig, who continued his legal maneuvering long after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct after he was arrested in a Minneapolis airport restroom in a sexual solicitation sting.
Unless Crapo plans to surprise his constituents again his criminal case could come to a quick end. But that still leaves him with much to answer for. And much to explain.
While Crapo has said the right things, he also has said very little.
He has said little about the circumstances leading up to his arrest, in Alexandria, Va., after running a red light in the early-morning hours of Dec. 23. Where was Crapo before he got behind the wheel? Why did he decide to drive, instead of calling a cab, or getting a ride from a designated driver? These are facts that may emerge in a court proceeding, however abbreviated.
More significantly, Crapo has said little about himself and an arrest that belies a long-established public persona. Crapo, 61, has spent nearly half of his life in elected office and is barely two years into his third six-year Senate term. A member of the Mormon Church, Crapo has said he abstains from alcohol, in adherence to church tenets.
Since this is the way Crapo has presented himself to his constituents, he owes his constituents the facts. Was this evening of drinking somehow a one-time occurrence? If not, how often does Crapo drink? How much, and when? And when Crapo says, I will undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated, does that mean he is swearing off alcohol?
Yes, these are personal questions about private matters. But Crapo talks about accepting total responsibility for his actions. Answering difficult questions is part of that equation. A pivotal part.
Crapo also has not yet publicly acknowledged the obvious: the dangers of drinking and driving. A DUI arrest is not politically fatal as Otters career has amply demonstrated. But a drunken driver threatens the lives of everyone who happens to be sharing the road.
If, as alleged, Crapo drove under the influence of alcohol on Dec. 23, he owes an apology to everyone he placed at risk.
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