Post Politics Hour
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 11:00 AM
Don't want to miss out on the latest in politics? Start each day with The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m. as a member of The Washington Post's team of White House and Congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post's coverage of political news.
Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman was online Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest news in politics.
The transcript follows.
Jonathan Weisman: Well, it's a sleepy late August. The Democrats have their bushiest scalp. The Republicans have a new sex scandal. And WTF is goin' on in Iraq? Progress or FUBAR? You tell me. Let's go.
Boston: The circumstances of Sen. Craig's arrest seem so dubious. A patrolman may know that what Craig was doing was "cruising" but was there anything really "lewd" or "disorderly" about tapping toes or waving hands ... even if it's in a men's room? Is there any chance all these closeted conservative Republicans finally will step up and take a stand against statutes that obviously are designed to entrap God-fearing, pro-family values men just like them? Openly gay men do not need airport bathroom stalls for hook-ups.
Jonathan Weisman: I would agree that there doesn't appear to be anything lewd about touching a guy's shoe with your shoe or waving your hand under the stall wall. But Larry Craig pleaded guilty. And how would you like to have that happen to you next time you're in a stall?
As for the second part of the question, Sen. Craig's bizarre denial -- and his statement that he has a wide stance -- left me a tad disheartened.
Chicago: Thanks for taking questions. It sure appears that GOP sex scandals are the gift that just keeps giving to the Democratic Party. While I think Iraq was the main issue that helped the Dems in 2006, the timing and substance of the Foley scandal could not have hurt them. Now Sen. Vitter gets caught consorting with prostitutes and Sen. Craig gets caught soliciting gay sex in the Minneapolis airport. Is the GOP going to do anything to clean its house before 2008? Ask Vitter and Craig to resign? Do you see the Dems making hay of these scandals as part of their 2008 campaigns?
Jonathan Weisman: It looks like Vitter skates, but my guess is that Larry Craig won't be tolerated in Idaho. The Republicans are lining up, and the Democrats only can hope Sen. Craig tries to stick it out and run for re-election.
I think what the GOP needs is not a purge but a come-to-Jesus moment on the nature and ambiguity of sexuality.
washingtonpost.com: GOP Senator Pleaded Guilty After Restroom Arrest (Post, Aug. 28)
Notre Dame, Ind.: How can a U.S. senator get arrested for anything -- including running a yellow light -- without the press reporting it? What did The Post know and when did it know it?
Jonathan Weisman: For God's sake, do you think we have a reporter in every courthouse in the United States, combing through arrest records every night? Unless the police publicize it, the arrested fesses up or a local reporter finds the crime report, news doesn't just emerge spontaneously. And Craig's appearance in Hennepin County court coincided with a certain bridge collapse up the road. I'd imagine Minneapolis reporters were a bit busy that day!
Reading, Pa.: Jonathan: What has this country come to when a U.S. Senator cannot play a little "footsie" in a public bathroom with a hunky undercover agent? I can live with suspension of habeas corpus and warrantless wiretaps but this has gone too far!
Jonathan Weisman: Indeed!
Chicago: Before Gonzales left to spend more time with his family ... ahem ... I remember hearing that Clement possibly would be called in to be a special investigator should the attorney general recuse himself from investigating Justice. Now, is it possible that they promoted Clement so they could install a friendly person as Solicitor General? Who is replacing Clement?
Jonathan Weisman: You're reading into this way too much. Clement is a good movement conservative -- a John Ashcroft aide -- with strong ties to the Hill. He was an aide on the Judiciary Committee when Ashcroft was in the Senate. If Bush nominates him to stay on, he'll be in good shape for a quick confirmation. Otherwise, he's a credible stand-in.
Fairfax, Va.: When do you anticipate the Democratic candidates now running will begin to explicitly state what they plan to do to protect middle-class pensions, provide health insurance and combat global warming? I am not asking about superficial generalities, but about when they will start saying specifically what they plan to do. And in the same vein, have any of the candidates come out and said how they would answer the Republican charge that Democrats are stabbing the military in the back and preventing them from winning in Iraq?
Jonathan Weisman: They're getting pretty specific on the health care issue, but pensions are down in the weeds. They will have to say something about global warming before the voters head to the polls in January. As for Iraq, right now, they are appealing to Democratic faithful that don't need to hear why they aren't really stabbing the military in the back. Wait until the general election, when the Iraq debate will be fierce and specific.
Former GOP Staffer from Idaho: Apologies for one more Sen. Craig comment, but if police misunderstood his behavior, why plead guilty? Especially two months after being arrested. I could understand if he was a naive young man intimidated by the " authority" (i.e. the police) but we're talking a multi-termed U.S. Senator. "...Should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously." Arrested June 11, plead guilty August 8; and he didn't think during that time to talk to legal counsel? Regardless of his "orientation," what's understood is that he was arrested, and two months later he plead guilty to charges pressed against him -- that's the bottom line, don't try to take the public for fools.
Jonathan Weisman: I absolutely agree. Not only did he plead guilty, but the police report also says he flashed his Senate business card as if to say "do you know who I am?" Sen. Craig has been waiting for two months, knowing the news would come out. I'd have expected either a better alibi or a better confession.
Baltimore: It seems Senator Craig is prone to panicking. Back in 1982 when there was a sex scandal with congressional pages brewing, Craig -- then a representative -- took the highly unusual step of publicly saying "it wasn't me" even before any names were floated about. I think the quick guilty plea to the disorderly conduct charge is evident of the same impulse to hurriedly deal with issues in a not-too-sensible manner.
Jonathan Weisman: These issues and rumors have indeed been swirling for years. One particular gay activist, Mike Rogers of BlogActive.com, has been trying to out the poor guy for three years now.
Arlington, Va.: Who will be George Bush's Ed Levi?
washingtonpost.com: Calling Ed Levi (Post, Aug. 28)
Jonathan Weisman: I don't think George W. Bush turns to nonpartisan academics. Don't hold your breath.
Replacing the AG: Why no women up for the attorney general position? Are there no competent female jurists out there? Not that a woman should get an appointment for that sake alone, but surely with a female Secretary of State, the president could think of at least one woman?
Jonathan Weisman: How 'bout Harriet Miers?
New York: Doesn't the Craig conviction lend more authority to the reporting of blogactive.com, and will the media now report on the many other gay politicos whose activities are chronicled there? Or does it require a criminal conviction to get a mention in the press, even where an elected official's actions directly contradict his stated views?
Jonathan Weisman: I just mentioned blogactive, dude. I talked at length to Mike Rogers last year, but he could offer up nothing more than anonymous allegations -- he couldn't even put me in touch with the men making the charges. How can a reputable newspaper report hearsay from men who not only won't offer their names, they won't even meet with a reporter?
Oviedo, Fla.: There's a good overview of the Sen. Craig story in today's Idaho Statesman -- they had been looking into this in-depth since last year and interviewed the senator and his wife, playing audiotape of an accuser's statement. The paper reconstructed many old allegations, interviewing dozens of sources. Your readers might want to see this...
washingtonpost.com: Men's room arrest reopens questions about Sen. Larry Craig (Idaho Statesman, Aug. 28)
Jonathan Weisman: I'll post it. The Idaho Statesman actually tasked a reporter to break the story of Craig's alleged proclivities. He worked on it for four months, and got nothing. Then suddenly Roll Call comes up with this. Wow.
Rochester, N.Y.: You write "I'd have expected either a better alibi." You mean you don't buy the excuse that the Senator, as he himself put it, takes a "wide stance" in the bathroom? You're a cynical, cynical man...
Jonathan Weisman: Or maybe my legs are too short to stand that wide.
Rolla, Mo.: Do you think there is time before the next election for Sen. Craig to attend the same orientation switcheroo counseling that cured Ted Haggard?
Jonathan Weisman: Calling Ted! He did say he was 100 percent cured.
New York: Will Mr. Katrina get anywhere with the Senate, or is Chertoff's nomination dead on arrival?
Jonathan Weisman: I was told by a Republican Judiciary Committee staffer that the White House was saying Chertoff is not going to be the nominee. Not only does he have the Katrina baggage, but a lot of people -- Dems and Republicans -- say he's just now getting a grip on the new, unwieldy bureaucracy that is the Homeland Security Department and he should stay put and finish the job.
Arlington, Va.: I can't believe that I agree with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee when he said a few weeks ago that perhaps the chickens are coming home to roost re: Republican sex scandals. The Republicans went hammer-and-tongs after Clinton (while pretending to be virginal pure) and now we've got Vitter with prostitutes and Craig in the bathroom at MSP. It's not the sex, it's the hypocrisy -- I wouldn't care if Vitter and his hooker had a threesome with Craig, just don't try to criminalize your own personal behavior.
And please do it in private.
And don't use your office phone number.
Or flash your Senate credentials.
Jonathan Weisman: Sen. McConnell, I couldn't agree more. Now, whip your troops into line!
Plano, Texas: Wouldn't someone willing to submit their names for attorney general consideration at this moment in history be a bit like volunteers for new captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg?
Jonathan Weisman: Yes and no. I don't think many people would want to give up any swanky job, but if you're an up-and-comer, Attorney General looks pretty good on your resume, even if it's only for a year and a half.
Washington: Actually, John Edwards was very early with specifics about his health care policy initiative. Furthermore, even Wall Street was seen to approve of it -- that doesn't come easily. I think Obama has offered up something in this area, too, but Hillary appears to be more cautious in her approach (for something completely different) -- maybe because she was burned so badly in Bill's first term. That being said, it's a whole different century now, and people have different expectations from when she initially dabbled her toes in the health care waters.
Jonathan Weisman: I said health care policies are already pretty specific. But thanks for mentioning it, Jennifer Palmieri.
New York: Might the Log Cabin Republicans endorse Larry Craig for re-election, and would he accept the endorsement?
Jonathan Weisman: Not if he's taking the wide-stand defense!
Straight Guy with a Question: Aren't airport/bus station/park restrooms the filthiest places any of us go? Why on Earth would you go there looking for, um, companionship? I'd be more worried about staph or something than an STD.
Jonathan Weisman: Disgustingly detumescent, isn't it?
Columbia, Md.: Thank you very much -- I now have my keyboard to clean after spraying tea all over it with your Harriet suggestion. I still can't stop laughing.
Jonathan Weisman: De nada!
Arlington, Va.: Was there any practical reason that Rove and Gonzales did not immediately resign but stayed on for an extra two to three weeks? Medical coverage? Also, Karen Hughes worked in the White House, left to go back to Texas, and now works for Rice at State. I have wondered whether there was more to her White House departure than is stated publicly.
Jonathan Weisman: Maybe they were padding their pensions, but I attribute it to absolute political tone-deafness. They stretched it out to do maximum political damage to the president, then left anyway! Go figger!
Hamilton, Va.: Jonathon, not trying to pull a Chaim Potok/Asher Lev number on you, but couldn't you have picked a better term than "come to Jesus."
Jonathan Weisman: I wondered if I'd be called on that. I apologize.
Potomac Falls, Va.: "Jonathan Weisman: Yes and no. I don't think many people would want to give up any swanky job, but if you're an up-and-comer, Attorney General looks pretty good on your resume, even if it's only for a year and a half."
Actually, maybe the opposite ... a well-established senior founding partner at some law firm who doesn't need the money and who could easily slide back into his old role afterwards, just doing his public service duty for a year or so.
Jonathan Weisman: That too! Thanks for the help.
Washington: A comment. The article on Craig said "in 2006, a gay activist said he had spoken with men who had sexual encounters with Craig, including in the restrooms at Union Station." While titillating, that's not journalism -- it's not just a blind quote, it's a double-blind quote, an unnamed source quoting another unnamed source. I'm as happy as anyone to see the hypocrite outed, but can't we at least get some attribution to the smearing?
Jonathan Weisman: Frankly, I gave that anecdote to the authors, attached to the name of Mike Rogers, an activist who publishes BlogActive.com. I don't know why the name was dropped.
Anonymous: What I can't fathom is why a Republican Senator would choose a homosexual lifestyle, considering all of the associated professional risk.
Jonathan Weisman: My friend, I don't think it's a choice, if you're driven to public restrooms.
Arlington, Va.: I think it's a universal practice in the U.S. that you can't plead guilty to a crime without swearing under penalties of perjury that you actually committed the crime. So if Sen. Craig is now claiming he didn't do it, has anyone asked whether there will be a perjury trial in his future?
Jonathan Weisman: The denial came after the guilty plea. Because it was not under oath, there's no perjury, just PR.
Bethesda, Md.: Harriet Miers, wide-stance, Log Cabins, disgustingly detumescent ... I can't stop laughing and everyone wants to know why I have tears rolling down my face. Thanks for the laughs.
Jonathan Weisman: Wipe that smile from your face, Bethesda, and get back to work.
Germantown, Md.: The White House has said it would prohibit the AG from pursuing (prosecuting?) a congressional contempt citation imposed against a claim of executive privilege, but ultimately, it comes down to what the AG will and won't do. Could you see Clement tagging Gonzales or some of the White House staff (current and departed) once he takes over?
Jonathan Weisman: Actually, it's not up to the AG, but the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Congress files a contempt citation to the U.S. attorney, who then must choose whether to convene a grand jury to seek an indictment. But that U.S. attorney is a Bush appointee who got his job through the same Patriot Act loophole that led to the other U.S. attorney firings. Ironic, eh?
Washington: Mike Rogers has been trying to out the guy? He did out the guy. And now Craig has helped, even knowing about the big Idaho Statesman story. He tried for a hook-up in that bathroom just a month after his meeting with the paper.
Jonathan Weisman: Yeah, not too smart, but I'm sticking with "trying." If a gay activist holds a press conference and nobody comes, has he really outed the guy?
Bethesda, Md.: Lest we judge, who among hasn't innocently rubbed our shoe against a stranger's foot in a neighboring stall and waggled our hand underneath the wall? I personally find public restrooms, especially at airports, the most friendly places in the world! Some may disagree. In the words (I think)of Dennis Miller, there's no place more tense than a public men's room.
Jonathan Weisman: My colleague, Shailagh Murray, just noted said waggling among women means "darn, all out -- may I please have some toilet paper?"
Portland, Ore.: Where is Rosemary Woods when we need a good demonstration?
Jonathan Weisman: Ah, the blessed erased tape. Foot tapping, anyone?
Boston: Since when is campaigning in a stall been criminalized? Sen. Craig's wide stance was for safety and the hand signals are the essential personal campaigning touch that reaches out to even the most harried fliers when they are most receptive.
Jonathan Weisman: Absolutely. Ya know, maybe the senator had been drinking in the bar, watching the Twins game, and just needed a little extra leverage.
New York: With Gonzales's departure, can we expect Congress (and the mainstream media) to quietly bury any investigation of Sen. Domenici for manipulating criminal investigations against Democratic candidates in his state?
Jonathan Weisman: We're busy with Larry Craig. Stop bothering us.
Winter Park, Fla.: Thanks for these great chats. Did you read the David Brooks book review in your competition? In which he basically admitted the Republicans will distort facts and say anything to get elected (and thus win) while the Dems appeal to people's higher, rational thinking selves (and thus lose). Will the Dems resort to Republican tactics, or will they learn how to be both rational and emotional (but not hysterical)?
washingtonpost.com: Stop Making Sense (New York Times, Aug. 26)
Jonathan Weisman: Ah, well, a guy wrote a whole book on this and the Democrats are studying it. But so far, I'm not seeing a lot of emotion coming out of anyone but Rahm Emanuel, when he's in a particularly bad mood.
Anonymous: The AG does not legally have to be a lawyer, do they? I can think of one well-respect official used to dealing with quick yes-and-no decisions from officials standing right behind him, and who recently schmoozed with a very highly placed administration official. Wouldn't Cal Ripken be quickly confirmed? And, if not him, how about Marion Barry, certainly an expert on many legal issues?
Jonathan Weisman: I think Marion Barry is too busy these days, but I'd second Cal. At least he'd show up to work every day.
Rolla, Mo.: With so many key figures now gone from the Bush Administration, aren't we going on autopilot for the next 16-17 months, waiting for the next administration? In other words, who cares about the day-to-day activities of this White House, their pressers, etc.?
Jonathan Weisman: I think a lot of reporters already have made that calculation. I remember the last months of the Clinton White House, going to press briefings with maybe a half-dozen reporters. In the end, the press secretary was a guy named Jake Siewert, as junior as junior can be. I love the guy, but not exactly a household name.
Los Angeles: What happened to the "culture of corruption" mantra? Did a shiny object distract the Dems?
Jonathan Weisman: We're waiting for more arrests.
Pittsburgh: Your paper is reporting that General Petraeus tinkered with the National Intelligence Estimate so that the situation in Iraq would look less bad. Right before the 2004 election he published a rosy op-ed piece on the war. CNN has recently reported that 53 percent of the American people don't trust him to give an honest report to Congress. In your opinion, which of our representatives will do the best job of calling this guy out?
washingtonpost.com: House to Hold Hearings on Two New Reports on Iraq (Post, Aug. 28)
Jonathan Weisman: Gen. Petraeus is still pretty untouchable. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a swipe at him a few months ago, and the blowback was pretty fierce. I'd imagine the doubts will be leveled on Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary Rice, who will follow Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.
Anonymous: Did the Republicans turn their collective back on Maryland Rep. Bob Bauman for circumstances similar to Sen. Larry Craig's? Do you think times have changed for the party, or that their anti-gay marriage stance with all its attendant religious-right baggage paints them into a corner (to mix metaphors)?
Jonathan Weisman: Umm, right now, they seem painted into a corner, with a large, pointed cap on their heads. As long as the Republicans believe they need Christian conservatives in their tent, and as long as Christian conservatives believe homosexual behavior is immoral, I don't see open arms from the GOP.
Silver Spring, Md.: In regards to the Florida Democratic Party primary dust-up -- as someone who lives in Maryland, with usually my first choices eliminated before the Maryland primary, I'd like to have the states (Iowa and New Hampshire) who have nominated a losing candidate (Kerry) for the most recent election cycle move their primaries to the end -- say, September. I know I sound bitter, but as sort of a political junkie I don't feel I should have to live in Iowa or New Hampshire to have an effective vote in the Democratic Party.
Jonathan Weisman: The parties still fear the wrath of New Hampshire and Iowa voters. It's the old saying: If you're gonna take a shot at the king, you'd better kill him. Both parties are worried about a flesh would that would come back to kill their nominees.
Fairfax, Va.: Today's Post headline is about how "loyal" Bush is. What an interesting way to frame a story and so typical of our MSM's pro-administration perspective. The story is our president is too loyal for his own good; not that he surrounded himself with operatives who violate and undermine the law as long as humanly possible at Bush's direction. Why not frame the story on those courageous people in and out of Congress who didn't give up on bringing the truth about Gonzales out into the open so that public opinion could form against him?
washingtonpost.com: In the End, Realities Trumped Loyalty (Post, Aug. 28)
Jonathan Weisman: I'm flabbergasted that you could read such a critical analysis of a fatal flaw in the president and conclude the piece was pro-administration. If you don't like careful analysis in the MSM, I'm sure you could find some LBM (lunatic blogger media) to stroke your ideology nicely.
Miami:"But now, American officials said, part of the criminal investigation is focused on Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, who reported directly to Gen. Petraeus and worked closely with him in setting up the logistics operation for what were then the fledgling Iraqi security forces.
"That operation moved everything from AK-47s, armored vehicles and plastic explosives to boots and Army uniforms, according to officials who were involved in it. Her former colleagues recall Lt. Col. Selph as a courageous officer who was willing to take substantial personal risks to carry out her mission and was unfailingly loyal to Gen. Petraeus and his directives to move quickly in setting up the logistics operation."
washingtonpost.com: Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations (New York Times, Aug. 28)
Jonathan Weisman: Published as is. Wow.
Washington: Is is possible that the Bush administration and Republicans might try to cause some shutdown of the federal government this fall? I have read some speculation that it might be done to try to force major cuts of federal spending and rally the Republican base.
Jonathan Weisman: It's a safe bet that President Bush will be vetoing virtually every spending bill the Democrats can send him this fall, saying the Dems are overspending. But the Democrats have learned the lesson of 1995-96. They will send short-term bridge spending bills to the president to keep the government open while negotiations continue. If Bush vetoed those, it would be crystal clear who was shutting down the government.
Atlanta: Hi, Jonathan. Do you think the administration is losing its touch with regard to Gonzales? Since the overriding philosophy of the Bush crowd is "slash and burn," I figured Gonzales to go around the 10th of August, with a recess appointment that would last until the end of the term. It would have solved both the problem of getting rid of Gonzales and not having to go through a confirmation hearing. If the public and Congress squawked, so what? Bush finds both Congress and public opinion to be irrelevant anyway. I can't figure why they they didn't do this. Any ideas?
Jonathan Weisman: I think they showed they lost their touch with Donald Rumsfeld, who, like Gonzales, hung around long enough to do maximum political damage to Republicans only to bolt the day after the election. The bloom is off the political rose, but thanks for the question, Mom.
Arlington, Va.: Aren't you wondering how often Senator Larry Craig was caught cruising by undercover police officers, but then flashed a Senate business card and -- poof! -- the arrest vanishes from the computer system? It very nearly happened here, so my guess is that it has happened before.
Jonathan Weisman: Man, I was missing these Larry Craig questions. But who am I to make such rank speculations? I'll let you do that!
Reading, Mass.: Are the political implications different between being caught soliciting a hooker in the Vitter case and being caught with a "wide stance" in the Craig bathroom incident?
Jonathan Weisman: Who was it that said they'd lose only if caught with a dead girl or a live boy? Those "gals" were very much alive, as was that cop in the bathroom.
San Francisco: How are Sens. Vitter and Craig able to hold onto their jobs in the wake of these scandals? I don't think a Democrat could. And what's with the delay in the reporting of Sen. Craig's arrest and conviction? Don't you guys have searches on public records for federal officeholders ongoing all the time? We heard about the Democratic congressman's arrest at Dulles airport within hours, by the way.
washingtonpost.com: Rep. Filner Allegedly Freaks Out Over Lost Baggage (washingtonpost.com, Aug. 20)
Jonathan Weisman: As I said earlier, jeez, do you think The Washington Post has a reporter combing through the daily arrest records at every courthouse in the country? I still don't know how Roll Call got the story. A working theory -- a cop in Minneapolis may have sent the report to the Capitol Police to keep an eye on Craig, who is now on probation. Usually, local cops reporters call around to police departments several times a day, asking if anything unusual had happened. But remember, this was the Minneapolis airport cops, not high on the radar screen, and Craig's court date coincided with the bridge collapse.
As for their survival rates, obviously Louisianans may be a tolerant lot, but don't count on Idahoans.
The Ultimate Holdout: Why has Larry Craig not yet announced that God has forgiven him? Doesn't he realize that the rest of us slobs can't forgive him until the Big Guy does?
Jonathan Weisman: Rumor has it a press conference is coming! There must be a re-education camp in the Sawtooth Mountains, doncha think?
Baltimore: Re the Bob Bauman citation: As a Marylander, I remember this sex scandal well. Bauman's case was a good bit different from Craig's, as his alcoholism led him to be utterly indiscreet. He was known to frequent the gay strip of bars in Southeast Washington in the early '80s and pick up guys by telling them he was a congressman! The soliciting charge eventually led Bauman to totally 'fess up in public -- I don't think Craig ever will, because he's issued denial after denial for so long that he's built a stone wall around himself.
Jonathan Weisman: Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, ya know.
St. Paul, Minn.: What are the odds, do you think, that Craig still will be in the Senate by the end of this week? I'm guessing he'll be resigning very shortly.
Jonathan Weisman: I'm not a bettin' man, but I'd imagine the Republican Party of Idaho has him on speed dial by now.
Washington: I felt this way back with Mark Foley, and even more so now -- if you want to clear up who has been elected within the GOP and had a homosexual encounter, just make them all take lie detector tests. Enough of the slow-motion nature of these things. Conservatives deserve to know!
Jonathan Weisman: Hey, if you can do that in a public restroom stall, don't you think you might be able to pass a lie detector test?
Eugene, Ore.: Dead girl, live boy: Edwin W. Edwards, Gov. Louisiana. Where else?
Jonathan Weisman: Of course. More evidence of Sen. Vitter's staying power. (No pun intended, folks.)
Boise, Idaho: As one of Senator Craig's liberal constituents in Idaho, I long have been frustrated by his narrow stance on most issues. At least we now know that he has a wide stance somewhere. What a hypocrite!
Jonathan Weisman: Are you lonely out there?
Wake Forest, N.C.: Gen. Petraeus is still pretty untouchable? The New York Times is reporting that Petraeus aide has been implicated in the thousands of missing arms in Iraq. Oh, you know, the ones that could be in the hands of anyone -- including Iraqi insurgents?
Jonathan Weisman: Great story, huh? But just wait and see how the waters part when the general himself walks through the crowded corridors of the Capitol.
Greenville, S.C.: Jonathan -- a recent poll showed Congress's approval rating at 18 percent, half that of President Bush. Bush has been call by some the "worst President ever." Given the record of this Congress, could a case be made that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are the "worst congressional leaders ever"?
Jonathan Weisman: I think the case could be made well in Greenville, but Reid and Pelosi's personal approval ratings -- while not great -- aren't as bad as Bush's, and for that matter not as bad as Gingrich's at this time in 1995. Moreover, the big drop in approval ratings has a lot to do with liberal Democrats believing Pelosi and Reid have not been liberal enough. And finally, Republicans in Congress have a considerably lower approval rating then Democrats in Congress, so I guess Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have to share the mantle.
Los Angeles: In light of Larry Craig and all the other Republicans in the Restroom scandals, here's the book that no newsroom can be without. It was written in 1970! Tapping you foot and sweeping a piece of toilet tissue under the stall is older than the hills. I'm sure it was handed down from the ancient Sumerians.
Jonathan Weisman: Impressive literary repertoire! Thanks for the recommendation.
Bethesda, Md.: Am I the only one that never has heard of this "lewd" foot-tapping behavior? Is this really some known phenomenon?
Jonathan Weisman: Apparently, but I didn't know the signals either. Hey, I'm still trying to figure out what it means when the catcher points to his left thigh!
Washington: Jonathan, let me make sure I understand. Larry Craig says he was dumb to plead guilty and should have gotten a lawyer with regard to his bathroom tryst. So his entire defense is that he is too stupid to understand the ramifications of being arrested for lewd conduct in a bathroom, and what a later guilty plea might mean for him? Is this even believable, or is there more to the story?
Jonathan Weisman: Um, I think you've got it.
Arlington, Va.: Why is it always the "family values" Republicans who get caught doing these things? Is it because they live their lives in shame so they have to get their jollies on the Down Low? Do they hate themselves so much that they have to hurt the rest of us who are out and proud with all of their anti-gay laws and rhetoric?
Jonathan Weisman: The only thing more powerful than denial is the urge, I guess. It's best to have a more wholesome outlet.
Larry Craig: I ask this question in all seriousness: Is Sen. Craig as stupid as he's coming off in his statements about the bathroom arrest? No responsible adult with a fully functional brain would expect anybody to believe this. What's his excuse? And what are his colleagues saying behind the scenes?
Jonathan Weisman: They're saying, WTF? It matters not what you think. It matters what the good folks in Idaho think.
Jonathan Weisman: My friends, I'm well into extra innings. Let's conclude with a few helpful signals that you might understand. ;-)
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