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Susan Estrich
10 Feb 2016
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Senator Craig's Exit


He didn't even flush the toilet.

When he exited the bathroom stall, Senator Larry Craig never flushed the toilet. As my kids would say when they were little, that certainly suggests he didn't have to go.

So what was he doing peering into someone else's stall for long enough that the officer was able to see he had blue eyes? Why did he wait for the adjoining stall to be empty when there were plenty of others available? What was he doing tapping his foot and waving his hand underneath the divider between the stalls? Certainly not going to the bathroom.

Larry Craig must think the people of Idaho are fools. He certainly has no problem lying to them, and the rest of us. Maybe it's all those years in Congress that have left him thinking he can get away with anything he wants.

After the media — Roll Call in particular — disclosed that Craig had pleaded guilty to cruising for sex in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport, the distinguished gentleman from Idaho announced he would resign as of September 30.

Then he changed his mind and said he was going to try to withdraw his guilty plea and would hold off on resigning until the judge reached a decision on that issue.

On Thursday, the judge reached a decision. To the surprise of no one who knows anything about criminal law, Judge Porter of the Minneapolis Superior Court concluded there was absolutely no basis for Senator Craig to withdraw his plea, no new evidence of anything, no showing that he'd been coerced by the prosecutors or police to plead guilty, nothing approaching the proof of a "manifest injustice" that would allow the plea to be withdrawn.

So now Craig has changed his mind again. Now, he's decided that even though he lost in court and has as much chance of winning on appeal as I do of winning the lottery (I don't even buy tickets) he's going to serve out his term for the good of the people of Idaho.

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

The best thing he could do for the people of Idaho, and the rest of us, is spare us the embarrassment of what's to come next.

Just what we need is an ethics hearing on the mechanics of bathroom pickups.

The judge's decision is absolutely correct. Imagine what the criminal justice system would be like if anyone who didn't like the punishment they got, from the courts or from their peers, could simply change their minds and decide they didn't want to plead guilty after all. My guess is that the Senator from Idaho has been a staunch supporter of "finality" when it comes to death row prisoners' efforts to seek review of their convictions before being put to death. I'm certain he voted for the provision of the Patriot Act expanding the Attorney General's authority to expedite the process. If it makes sense for those on death row, it certainly makes sense for bathroom cruisers.

The Senator certainly doesn't have a case that he can't be punished because he didn't "do" anything, notwithstanding the support he's received from his new "BFF's" at the ACLU. Lots of people get a lot worse punishment than he did for "doing" less — the defendants in the Padilla case just shot off their mouths and didn't actually "do" anything, but they're facing life in prison for conspiracy. That's how conspiracy works. You can be punished for attempt even if you never do anything wrong. That's how attempt law works.

Cruising for sex in the bathroom may be nothing in Senator Craig's book, but it certainly is something in the book of every mother who, like me, nervously stands outside the men's room watching the time and keeping track of everyone who enters and exits while your son is inside. If Senator Craig's arrest and conviction deter some creeps from peeking in the stall where my son and other kids are actually going to the bathroom, it will be worth something. Even if the Senator still doesn't know when it's time to go.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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