Where to begin with the latest developments in L’Affaire Craig?

How about with the delicious proposal by Larry Craig’s fans at the American Land Rights Association? The group’s so upset at the prospect of losing the Idaho Republican’s anti-environmental influence on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that it is proposing a boycott of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport where the Senator got busted for cruising in a disorderly manner for anonymous sex.

Land Association leaders claim the airport and the local cops are guilty of "ambushing" their favorite senator — using the old technique of placing attractive young cops in bathroom stalls frequented by senators who are "not gay (and) and never have been gay."

More power to the association. Senators who are as unreconstructed in their willingness to pave paradise as Larry Craig are not easy to come by, so special-interest groups can’t have them getting ambushed by airport security schemes.

And who knows? Maybe the American Land Rights Association won’t have to bid a fond farewell to the senator who never met a plot to despoil the countryside that he didn’t adore.

Urged on by the delightfully off-message Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, Craig is now scrambling to withdraw his guilty plea in the Minnesota case, beat the rap and reverse his resignation announcement.

The word from Craig’s camp is that he is reconsidering, which of course he has every right to do. Resignation from the Senate has nothing to do with what one says or does not say. A senator must notify the proper legislative authorities of an intention to forfeit his or her seat, and the man from Idaho has not done that — and, perhaps, will not do that.

Republican leaders in the Senate are, predictably, apoplectic. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is still busy blathering about how Craig made the "right decision" to quit — after the Idaho senator was thrown under the bus by McConnell and other Republican bosses who can tolerate Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s penchant for prostitutes but who draw the line when it comes to bathroom sex. It’s as if McConnell believes that if he just says it enough — or maybe if he clicks his red ruby slippers together enough — Larry Craig will just disappear.

But that’s not going to happen for so long as Specter is publicly urging Craig to "seek to withdraw the guilty plea."

How can Specter seriously entertain the notion that Craig might be innocent? Need it be recalled that the distinguished senator from Pennsylvania was, in a previous incarnation, the junior counsel for the Warren Commission who came up with the "single-bullet theory" to explain President John Kennedy’s assassination.

In Arlen Specter’s view, anything is possible — even the impossible.

And in the case of Larry Craig, the impossible dream of a disgraced senator that he might yet redeem himself and reclaim his seat is turning into a political nightmare of epic proportions for congressional Republicans who cannot seem to keep their stories straight or their resignations permanent.

The story that was supposed to go away before the Senate was gaveled back into session this week has turned into a saga with no end in sight. Oregon Senator Gordon Smith is exactly right when he says of his party’s Craig conundrum: "If this story doesn’t get smaller, it will get bigger." Indeed, considering the broadcast news media’s continuing fascination with all things Craigy, the Bush White House had better start worrying. Senator Craig’s headline-grabbing absolution, or his next visit to the restroom, could come just in time to grab the fickle media’s attention away from the administration’s latest faked up report on how great things are going in Iraq.


John Nichols’ new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders’ Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe ‘heroic medicine’ that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to ‘reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties.’"