Misreading Goldwater

When Brent Budowsky managed to weave the arrest of Idaho Senator Larry Craig into yet another diatribe about war in Iraq in his post yesterday, I just rolled my eyes and laughed to myself. Leave it to Budowsky to link bathroom sex and Iraq. He keeps good company with June Thomas, an editor at Slate.com who complained law enforcement should concern itself with finding Osama bin Laden, not men looking to kill time in the men’s room.

Thomas writes, “I’m saying we should focus on finding Osama bin Laden in Waziristan. I think there are laws policemen take way too much pleasure in enforcing, and this one is right on top. How many people challenge (much less win) charges like this?”

The logical disconnect in what she writes is astounding.

Less predictable than Budowsky and even more astounding than Thomas, however, is an opinion on Sen. Craig’s attempted tryst with a stranger in a public restroom by Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie in an op-ed published in today’s Los Angeles Times. Gillespie argues the lesson to be learned from Craig isn’t that of “Don’t solicit sex in a public place,” but rather, “Get government out of the bathroom,” which is the title of his piece today.

“As we all look forward to more sputtering news conference antics from Sen. Larry Craig,” writes Gillespie, “here’s hoping that the Idaho politician will eventually draw on traditional Republican principles and stand up for his right to engage in consensual sex in toilet stalls with men.”

Really? Traditional Republican principles include the right to have sex in a public place? I had no idea! Mr. Gillespie is far more enlightened about tradition than I.

“But the Craig scandal also provides the Republican Party, battered into minority status in Congress after years of domestic and foreign overreach, a golden opportunity to recover its attractive minimal-government heritage, at least when it comes to using the state to police sexual behavior among consenting adults.” Yes, I see Gillespie’s point. Damn public health policies and damn public decency laws. Let’s put the “Ohhhhhh, Ohhhhhh, Ohhhhhh” back in the GOP.

Mothers with 8-year-old boys whose sons are too old to accompany their mothers into the women’s bathroom shouldn’t be concerned about their boys being exposed to men having open sex in public bathrooms. After all, moms, it’s a small price to pay for smaller government and less intrusion into our public (not private) lives.

Does the sight, sound and smell of adult male sexual activity offend your senses? Too bad, Puritan. That’s what you get for going out in public. Stay at home and use your own bathroom if you don’t like it.

Budowsky’s take on Craig was predictable. Our favorite uber-lefty at the Pundit’s Blog is passionate about getting out of Iraq, and I can respect that even if I don’t entirely agree.

Gillespie, on the other hand, is plain nuts. He concludes, “[The GOP] should follow the message of the architect of their success [Goldwater]. As author Sheila Kennedy has written, ‘To Goldwater, government did not belong either in your boardroom or your bedroom.’ Or, as Craig might add, in your bathroom.”

Limited government has never meant no government. Mr. Gillespie appears to be driven more by personal preference than a quest for traditional conservative principles as they apply to public places.