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Craig vs. Vitter - redux [View All]

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EV_Ares Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-02-07 06:57 PM
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Craig vs. Vitter - redux
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09.02.07 -- 6:34PMBy Steve Benen
It looks like the Republicans have settled on a talking point.

A GOP leader Sunday denied a double standard in pushing Sen. Larry Craig to resign after a sex sting guilty plea, while remaining silent over GOP Sen. David Vitter's involvement with an escort service.

A senior Democrat said a double standard by Republican leaders is exactly what occurred.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the Senate Republican campaign chairman, said Craig "admitted guilt. That is a big difference between being accused of something and actually admitting guilt."

While Ensign was repeating the line on ABC, Ed Gillespie, White House counselor and a former chairman of the Republican Party, was on Fox News making the same argument. "The fact is that Sen. Craig pled guilty to a crime, and therefore was convicted of a crime," Gillespie said. "Sen. Vitter has not been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. So there's a pretty big distinction here."

This may not be wisest strategy. For one thing, confronted with evidence that made use of a prostitution service, Vitter conceded immediately that he'd "sinned." I'm not an expert in the subject, but as I understand it, paying for sex is a crime, and Vitter publicly conceded that he'd violated this law. He would have been subject to criminal charges, but the statute of limitations ran out. For the GOP, that makes the "pretty big distinction" fairly small -- Craig pleaded guilty to a recent crime, Vitter acknowledged guilt of a less recent crime.

Moreover, the whole argument seems premised on strained legalisms. Remember when the president urged Republicans to hold themselves to the highest moral standard? "We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right," Bush said in 2001. "There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity."

So much for that idea.


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