October 06, 2007
Down 'n' dirty with the GOP
Posted by: Chris
While the rest of us were fighting this week about transgender rights and such, the Larry Craig scandal descended from the absurd to… er… whatever is one level worse than that.
It was disappointing if not unexpected that the judge refused the Idaho senator' attempt to withdraw his guilty plea. There was the expected finger-wagging that Craig, of all people, should have known what he was doing when he pleaded guilty in the first place: "The defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of at least above-average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading and signing."
I like the dig at Craig's intelligence. Nicely done. I don't disagree with the judge, but it was a crimped ruling. Accepting for the sake of argument the problems with the constitutionality of Craig's arrest, then the police were counting on exactly the external pressures Craig caved to (actually multiplied in his case) to preclude him against the defendant asserting his own constitutional rights. If you care about civil liberties, then Craig's loss this week was also a lost opportunity to strike a very public blow against police abuse.
Contrast, if you will, Larry Craig's arrest with the near-arrest of another toe-tapping Republican exposed this week, this one out of Louisiana. St. Bernard Parish Councilman Joey DiFatta, 53, dropped out of the Louisiana state Senate race after it was revealed that he had been questioned by police twice on mall restroom lewdness charges. (No word on whether DiFatta is married; does anyone know?)
In the first incident, another restroom user physically held DiFatta for police after he caught the GOP pol peeping through a gloryhole to watch him pee. The man later dropped charges. The second incident, however, involved an undercover cop and would serve a nice instruction manual for the cops in the Minneapolis airport who nabbed Craig. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:
Jefferson Parish deputies working an undercover detail in a men's bathroom at Dillard's at Lakeside Shopping Center in March 2000 stopped DiFatta after he indicated a desire to engage in sex with an undercover deputy in an adjoining bathroom stall, according to an interoffice memorandum written by Sgt. Keith Conley, one of the deputies involved in the investigation.
The report said DiFatta slid his foot into the deputy's stall and tapped the deputy's foot. In the report, Conley noted that such activity is common among men to indicate a willingness to participate in sex.
The deputy inside the stall, Detective Wayne Couvillion, responded by tapping his foot, and DiFatta reached under the partition and began to rub the deputy's leg, the report states.
The detective asked DiFatta, "What do you want?" according to the report, and he replied, "I want to play with you."
DiFatta also used a hand signal to indicate that he wanted to engage in sex and used language that indicated the same, according to the report. Conley, who is now the Kenner city attorney, confirmed the report's authenticity Thursday.
The incident did not culminate in an arrest because the deputy in the bathroom with DiFatta terminated the investigation after several children entered the bathroom, the report states. Conley noted in the report that DiFatta appeared well-versed and comfortable with the routine.
Conley wrote that had the investigation been allowed to continue, it likely would have concluded in DiFatta's arrest on obscenity charges, including a possible attempted crime against nature.
The civil libertarian in me is still troubled somewhat by the cop's responsive toe-tapping. If the concern with this sort of behavior is to protect those for whom it's unwanted, then the test ought to be whether DiFatta continues to pursue without any thumbs-up (metaphorically speaking) in response.
Still, the police officer here followed all the rules and was waiting for unambiguous communication far beyond anything Larry Craig did. Note that even, "I want to play with you," wasn't enough. Interestingly, the undercover cop Sgt. Conley is now the city attorney of Kenner, La. Perhaps that's why he was so careful.
(Yet another Republican with a wide restroom stance lost his lunch this week in Tallahassee, Fla.)
Meanwhile back in Idaho, or actually Washington, Larry Craig has taken Barney Frank's advice and will not resign his seat. Good for him. It will be much more entertaining to have him there and watch the Republicans twist and turn in distinguishing between Craig's misdemeanor offense and that other Louisiana Republican's admission to using the services of prostitutes.
Speaking of prostitutes, Ted Haggard's former escort Mike Jones apparently has a few ticks left on his 15 minutes of fame. In an interview with a Palm Springs radio station, he alleged in coy fashion that he had also serviced Larry Craig:
While promoting his new book during a radio interview with KNWQ-AM in Palm Springs this week, Mike Jones hesitated from making the allegation on the air. Management for the radio station says Jones told them he would reveal something about Idaho Senator Larry Craig on the "Bulldog Bill Feingold Show."
While he hesitated doing so on the air, a NewsChannel 3 camera was rolling when he made the accusation during a commercial break. Feingold asked whether the senator had seen Jones in a hotel room. Jones responded, "No, he came to see me." Jones then added, "His travel records to Denver have been documented. That's what I wanted to say."
I believe him, especially since he told gay blogger Joe.My.God the same story when the Haggard scandal first broke. Jones was apparently waiting to see if Craig would resign and decided to go public when the Idaho Republican reneged on that decision.
It will be curious to see if the mainstream press follows the Jones lead now that Craig is staying in office. Craig has vehemently denied Jones' accusation and, unlike in the Haggard case, Jones has no smoking gun phone messages. But if Jones can recall dates and the press can cross-reference trips by Craig to Denver, then watch out…
As much as the blogosphere and late-night comics would revel in yet another chapter in Craig's hypocrisy, I hope at least some of us will remember that it really doesn't help our cause.
For a complete and up-to-date news summary about the Larry Craig scandal, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/larrycraig
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