After the Weiner tableau, an ode to Larry Craig


Sen. Larry Craig and his wife Suzanne, post-scandal. (TROY MABEN/AP)

Remember him? After the news broke of his 2007 sex-sting arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, it took the Idaho Republican all of five days to hold a press conference announcing he would resign his Senate seat.

Contrast that with the painfully slow unfolding of the scandal tainting former congressman Anthony Weiner, who has stubbornly remained in the race for New York mayor amid the drip-drip of news about his naughty online exchanges with women who are decidedly not his wife. Hard to believe, but Weinergate is now two years old.

Weiner held a press conference Tuesday, in which he appeared shoulder to shoulder with his wife, Huma Abedin, the longtime aide de camp of Hillary Clinton. There’s a Craig parallel here: he, too, appeared at a press conference flanked by his wife, Suzanne (hey, the stand-by-your-man press conference is a classic).

Both women appeared to wish the whole thing would go away. Mrs. Craig wore giant sunglasses and said nothing; Abedin said her husband’s mistakes were “between us and our marriage.”

One surefire way to ensure privacy: don’t run for public office.

Of course, Craig’s trespasses were of a different cast than Weiner’s. For one, he was actually arrested. And secondly, the implication was that he was gay — perhaps an insurmountable challenge for the married, devout Christian. Another disgraced politician who had the good sense to make a lightening-quick exit was former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who was busted for sending sexually explicit texts to an underage congressional page.

While we’re giving kudos to the Slink Away Caucus, let’s throw in an ode to former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who decided not to seek another term after news of his own messy extramarital affair. He’s returned to veterinary practice back home.

Craig certainly had the option, however difficult, of standing (with his signature wide stance, of course) his ground and fighting the scandal. The standard remedy is an apology tour, a stint in the public woodshed, maybe some counseling.

Perhaps those guys who took the fast train out of town were simply old-school. Now, it’s become quite fashionable to seek a second act after embarrassing scandals — see Spitzer, Eliot and Sanford, Mark.

Still, all this praise for scandal-plagued pols who shun the spotlight runs counter to the Loop’s professional interests. We hope Weiner sticks around, if only for the pun-filled headlines.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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