The Larry Craig Matter: Crisis Management Advice to the Senator
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) hasn’t asked for my crisis management advice, nor do I expect him to.
But I’ll offer it anyway — one of the many advantages of having my own blog.
For us Democrats, this story — especially the “family values” Republicans going through another episode of double-standard sanctimony — is the gift that won’t stop giving. Thus all of us Democrats should probably just be quiet and get out of the way as the next chapter of a circular GOP firing squad unfolds.
But wait — I feel sorry for Larry Craig. I can’t help it. I do. So here’s my crisis management advice:
First, follow the “Rule of Being in a Deep Hole”:
To do that, to avoid making matters worse, Sen. Craig should change the subject as quickly as possible — from posing such questions as why he really went into a “wide stance” or “was there really toilet paper on the floor?” to challenging the “harsh and hard-hearted rush to judgment” of his Republican Senate leadership colleagues.
Is that an oxymoron or a redundancy? You decide.
But here is something most people will agree with: The lack of empathy from the GOP leadership and their unwillingness to give Sen. Craig a decent interval to consult an attorney, his family and his Idaho constituents was, well, tacky.
Even the most cynical inside-the-Beltway cynics seemed taken aback by the speed of the Senate Republican leadership’s drive to finish off Sen. Craig as political roadkill while he was admittedly lying on the road hemorrhaging — but not yet dead.
Only one Republican senator, Arlen Specter (Pa.), worried about fairness and the possibility that Craig was pushed into a guilty plea under stress and without the advice of counsel. Sen. Specter quickly and courageously spoke up and simply said, in effect, “hold on here.” Rumors are that some members of the Senate conference smacked him in the nose pretty hard just for saying that. We haven’t heard from him since.
Then last week Sen. Craig seemed to be evidencing some signs of reconsideration to resign before fighting the guilty plea. We all heard (with some prurient pleasure, I am sorry to admit) the tape on national TV of the senator’s misdirected recorded telephone message to his attorney, Billy Martin. (That dialed wrong number must have left Sen. Craig with the conclusion that he was utterly star-crossed — a phenomenon known to crisis managers, which leads to crisis manager depression.)
It now appears that Sen. Craig is back on board to go along with the Senate GOP’s objective to get him out by no later than Sept. 30.
But that doesn’t mean he has to go away quietly forever. He still may be interested in winning public sympathy, thus improving jury pool perceptions if he and his attorneys choose to fight the guilty plea and go to trial on what will undoubtedly be more serious charges. He may also wish to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his friends and family in Idaho so he can rebuild his life and get over this obviously painful personal trauma.
If he is interested in achieving both of those objectives, then his best chance, in my judgment, would be to get his attorneys and other surrogates out on the evening cable shows and in Idaho print and broadcast media — immediately — and attack his Republican colleagues for their unseemly haste and political brutality.
But, some Republicans would argue, if he followed this advice, wouldn’t he be hurting his fellow GOP senators, who are concerned about losing more seats in ’08?
And thus, shouldn’t he be more loyal to them and to the interests of the Republican Party than seeking revenge or trying to rehabilitate himself?
I’ll let Sen. Craig and his friends and family answer that question.
As a good Democrat, I wouldn’t touch it.
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