It is my intent, in this morning's blog post, to attempt to lend a little added perspective to the Larry Craig resigning-not resigning story.
The irony is that, eight days ago, Craig called out the Statesman and accused this newspaper of a witch hunt. Throughout the week, national and Idaho editorial pages — including the Statesman's page — urged him to step aside. Now, it's clear that Craig's image-repair campaign is designed to use the media to put the heat on Craig's (for now) Republican Senate colleagues.
The short history: As we reported this morning, Idaho's senior senator is keeping the door open to staying in the Senate, if he is cleared later this month on a disorderly conduct charge in Minnesota.
Craig on Saturday did not say he would resign, but said it was his intent to resign on Sept. 30. This was, evidently, a last-minute wording change — made by Craig, moments before reading his statement at the Boise Depot.
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I'm hard pressed to see how this word-mincing will play with Senate Republican leadership, which last week asked the Ethics Committee to look into Craig's arrest at a Minnesota airport bathroom and his subsequent guilty plea. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't say much earlier Tuesday, but got his point across: "I think this episode is over."
Well, it's neither out of sight nor out of mind. As I write this, CNN has a panel debating the latest nuance in the Craig story — one more time. Stan Brand, Craig's newly hired Washington, D.C., attorney, was on NBC's "Today" show speaking on his client's behalf this morning. On Tuesday, two of Craig's children appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Craig is keeping his story on the national networks. Which is exactly where Senate Republicans don't want it.
GOP leadership, of course, thought it had a deal late last week: Craig appeared ready to resign. Of course, Minnesota authorities probably thought they had a deal with Craig a month ago, when the senator pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
So what is Craig's endgame? In this morning's New York Times, Brand says he advised Craig not to resign — and offers a telling explanation.
“I think what it does is it takes away some bargaining power that you would otherwise have to resolve it in some mutually acceptable way,” Brand told the Times Tuesday night.
The longer Craig holds on — and the more press his story gets — the more uncomfortable this gets for Senate Republicans who simply want the Craig story (and the senator himself) to simply go away.
If I had to guess — and with a story this strange and unprecedented, we're all just guessing — that would appear to be Craig's underlying intent.
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