GOP Is Ready to Roll Out the Klieg Lights for Craig

Sen.Larry Craig might find Idaho more comfortable than Washington, his GOP colleagues are hinting.
Sen.Larry Craig might find Idaho more comfortable than Washington, his GOP colleagues are hinting. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is a tough guy to run out of town.

Not that his Republican colleagues aren't trying. Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.

The Senate hearing would examine the original charges in Craig's case, including the allegation of "interference with privacy," for peeping into the bathroom stall occupied by an undercover police officer. One senior Republican aide imagined "witnesses, documents, all in front of the klieg lights." The committee also could look for "a pattern of conduct" -- which means combing court records in other locales to discover whether Craig had prior arrests that haven't come to light.

The call for a public hearing is not unprecedented. In 1995, the Senate narrowly rejected holding an open forum to examine sexual misconduct allegations against Bob Packwood (R-Ore.). The Democrat who called for the open Packwood hearing? Barbara Boxer (Calif.), the current chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

While his lawyer was in Minnesota last week trying to persuade a judge to throw out the senator's guilty plea, Craig was a regular presence on the Senate floor, backslapping colleagues during votes and, at one point, conducting a private conversation with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has urged Craig in no uncertain terms to leave the Senate. Craig's wife, Suzanne, also made an appearance at a Senate spouses' lunch.

"I do not think it is healthy for the U.S. Senate to be put through a public type of hearing on this type of an ethics complaint, but that is ultimately going to be his decision, because we are very limited on what we can do," said Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A New Journey

Remember Matt Dowd, one of the members of George W. Bush's inner political circle in 2000 and 2004?

Dowd broke publicly with his former boss in the spring, expressing disappointment with the president and his policies. Since that split, Dowd has pursued a very different path.

That has led Dowd to India, where he has begun a self-described pilgrimage to "walk in the paths of the major spiritual movements." Dowd is documenting his trip through India, Nepal, Turkey, Israel and Italy at -- a blog dedicated to the belief, as Dowd writes, that "human beings deep in their hearts and souls want to be noticed, they want to be recognized, they want to feel they belong somewhere and matter, they want a touch of kindness or gentleness as they exist in their lifes."

Dowd's journey began earlier this month. Reached in India on Friday, Dowd said he was unsure whether he would ever reenter the world of partisan politics.

"Right now I want to spend my time and energies doing the 'One' campaign on global poverty and health," Dowd wrote. (He is the chief strategist for the One Vote '08 initiative.) "And the rest of my time I want to do my part in [a] small way to encourage each of us [to treat] each other as human beings."

Name Those Bundlers

Ever since President Bush instituted his bundler program -- affixing bigwigs able to deliver hundreds of thousand of dollars in checks to his campaign with titles such as "Ranger" and "Pioneer" -- he has been relentlessly (and unapologetically) copied by Republican candidates hoping to succeed him in the White House.

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