The Larry Craig Saga will draw to a close today, CNN reports this morning. Citing "well-placed GOP sources", the disgraced Senator will return to Idaho and give Governor Butch Otter the opportunity to appoint his replacement. And if Craig doesn't jump, the RNC might give him a big push:
Several well-placed GOP sources in Washington and Idaho have told CNN that embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig is likely to resign soon, possibly as early as Friday.
A GOP source with knowledge of the situation told CNN's Dana Bash that the Republican National Committee was poised to take the extraordinary step of calling on Craig to resign.
However, that move was put on hold, the source said, because top party leaders have received indications that Craig himself is preparing to step down.
Sources have confirmed that high-level meetings on the matter were being conducted in Idaho on Thursday.
Three Republican members of Congress had already called for Craig's resignation. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Senators John McCain and Norm Coleman argued that a guilty plea for the misconduct in the airport restroom rendered him unfit for high office. The RNC must have agreed -- and more than likely some of its members had already contacted Craig's office to let them know they would demand his resignation if he didn't quit on his own.
It seems like a high price to pay for toe-tapping and hand waving, but Craig pleaded guilty rather than dispute the charges. He has to take responsibility for that action as well, and as a Senator, he knows that his credibility depends on actions in and out of Washington. The accusations and the guilty plea reflect poorly on him and poorly on the GOP if they try to shield him. Basically, Craig embarrassed himself, and the party doesn't want to pay the price for Craig's individual actions.
That's all perfectly understandable, even if not exactly laudable. However, if the party wants to start drawing these lines, then one has to wonder why David Vitter isn't getting the same push. He didn't plead guilty in court, but unlike Craig, he openly admits he broke the law and solicited prostitutes. Others serving in Congress at the moment have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of more import than disorderly conduct without being forced to resign. If morality and credibility are at issue, why isn't Vitter being held to that standard? It's either that Louisiana's Democratic governor would appoint a Democrat in his place, or that Vitter's transgressions involved heterosexual sex and therefore are less objectionable.
Craig will depart soon, and these questions will fade away eventually. However, people will wonder whether the GOP decided to argue for standards in public officials, or whether they just found it easy to use Craig without endangering their political balance in the Senate.
UPDATE: Craig will resign tomorrow, according to GOP sources:
Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig will resign from the Senate amid a furor over his arrest and guilty plea in a police sex sting in an airport men's room, Republican officials said Friday.
Craig will announce at a news conference in Boise Saturday morning that he will resign effective Sept. 30, GOP officials in Idaho and Washington told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A Saturday on a three-day weekend? You couldn't possibly bury that one any deeper in the news cycle.