Monthly Archives: September 2007

For more years than I care to recollect a fiendish device known as “Times Select” put a wall between web readers of the NYT and a number of its op-ed contributors. For a nominal fee one was allowed access to the writers behind this wall. Both an annoyance and an indignity the wall came down last Wednesday — producing a decidedly mixed blessing. On the upside there’s Paul Krugman and Frank Rich. The downside of course is Modo and Our Miss Brooks. But judging from today’s column it looks like Rich is moving briskly toward the debit side.

The subject is the Beltway’s most notorious amateur tap dancer, Larry Craig, about whom your (far from ) humble FaBlogist has dealt with frequently (eg.) And Rich, who began his writing career with a review of the legendary original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies (does it get any more metrosexual ?) has taken up Craig’s defense.

“Not only did the senator do nothing wrong, but in scandal he has proved the national treasure that he never was in his salad days as a pork-seeking party hack. In the past month he has served as an invaluable human Geiger counter for hypocrisy on the left and right alike.”

What left-wing hypocrisy are you talking about, Frank? To mix a metaphor, Come again?

“On the legal front, Mr. Craig is not without his semi-spirited defenders, an eclectic group including Arlen Specter, the A.C.L.U. and scattered Democrats. While there’s widespread agreement that Mr. Craig was an idiot not to consult a lawyer before entering a guilty plea (for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor carrying a $575 fine), idiocy is no more a federal offense than hypocrisy, especially in Washington.”

The A.C.L.U. “friend of the court” brief was pathetic. As for Arlen Specter it’s darkly amusing to watch this Republican clown attempt to finesse Larry Craig’s tearoom antics in light of his behavior during the Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas debacle. Who can forget the sight of an outraged Specter screaming into television cameras that the statements Hill proffered about Thomas’ sexual come-ons were “RAW DATA!!!! RAW DATA!!!!”

Rich’s finessing, while far less hysterial is equally absurd.

“What Mr. Craig did in that men’s room isn’t an offense either. He didn’t have sex in a public place. He didn’t expose himself. His toe tapping, hand signals and “wide stance” were at most a form of flirtation.”

Can I get an “OH PRUNELLA!!!” ?

As Laud Humphrey’s Tearoom Trade (referenced and linked in previous FabLog entries) makes clear, what Larry Craig was signalling meant nothing more and nothing less than “Let’s get it on — right here, right now!”
IOW–

As George Will has rightly argued, if deviancy can be defined down to “signaling an interest in sex,” then deviancy is what “goes on in 10,000 bars every Saturday night in our country.” It’s free speech even if the toes and fingers do the talking.

Uh, no. That’s not what goes in 10,000 bars every Saturday night.
A few hundred I expect at best. At least that’s the way it was back in the 70’s. I have no idea what the children are up to today, though from the sharply rising rates of seroconversion I expect the worst. But what’s really mind-boggling here is the spectacle of Frank Rich citing George Will as an authority on gay male behavior.

“The Minnesota sting operation may well be unconstitutional, as the A.C.L.U. says. Yet gay civil rights organizations, eager to see a family-values phony like Mr. Craig brought down, have been often muted or silent on this point. They stood idly by while Republicans gathered their lynching party, thereby short-circuiting public debate about the legitimacy of the brand of police entrapment that took place in Minnesota. Surely that airport could have hired a uniformed guard to police a public restroom rather than train a cop to enact a punitive “Cage aux Folles” pantomime.”

Frank the cop wasn’t singing Jerry Herman. Moreover he wasn’t the only cop assigned to periodically check out that men’s room (a detail lost on far too many commentators) though quite possibly the most attractive one (another detail lost on far too many commentaors.)

“A rare gay activist to stand up forthrightly for Mr. Craig is Franklin Kameny, whom the Smithsonian Institution recently honored with an exhibition documenting his lonely Washington protests for gay civil rights in the pre-Stonewall 1960s. When I spoke to him last week, the 82-year-old Mr. Kameny said that many Americans don’t seem to know how much the law has changed in recent years. Though he’s no admirer of Mr. Craig, whom he describes as “a self-deluding hypocritical homophobic bigot,” he publicly made the case for the senator’s innocence in a letter to the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com.
“Fair is fair,” Mr. Kameny wrote. Mr. Craig, guilty of no public sex act, “was the victim of a false arrest and a malfeasant prosecution.” Even had he invited the police officer to a hotel room, there still would have been no crime. The last American laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults were thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2003.”

Mr. Kameny is a dear man, and a great gay American, but that he should be so much as giving WorldNutDaily the time of day disturbs me. Likewise the notion that the arrest was “false” — as a minute’s consultation of Humphreys would show to be far from the case. There’s no “even” about it. Had Craig invited the police officer to a hotel room there most assuredly would have been no crime — thanks to Lawrence vs. Texas. But
that’s not what Larry Craig was doing.

From all his years of experience in the Broadway theater (the beating heart of the Gay AgendaAs every actor who ever played “Tulsa” well knows ), one would have thought that Frank would have known precisely what Larry Craig was doing.

Do you sense a cue for “That Frank” from the revised version of Merrily We Roll Along ?

“What a friend,
What Host,
And his work is great!
Has a wife who is gorgeous-
A son who’s straight!”

Nah. This time I’m afraid we’re going to hand things over to Rufus:

“Men reading fashion magazines
Oh what a world
It seems we live in
Straight men
Oh what a world
We live in
Why am I always on a plane or a fast train
Oh what a world my parents gave me
Always
Travelin’ but not in love
Still I think I’m doin’ fine
Wouldn’t it be a lovely headline
‘Life is Beautiful’
in the New York Times
Men reading fashion magazines
Oh what a world
It seems we live in
Straight men
(Yeah)
Oh what a world
We live in
Why am I always on a plane or a fast train
Oh what a world my parents gave me
Always
Travelin’ but not in love
Still I think I’m doin’ fine
Wouldn’t it be a lovely headline
‘Life is Beautiful’ in the New York Times
Oh what a world
We live in
Why am I always on a plane or a fast train
Oh what a world my parents gave me
Always
Travelin’ but not in love
Still I think I’m doin’ fine
Wouldn’t it be a lovely headline
‘Life is Beautiful’
in the New York Times.