Bill Richardson: Larry Craig "Did a Terrible Thing"

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson has had his problems with expressing his views on gays. Today, in commenting on Sen. Larry Craig's resignation, he stepped in it again.

I remember him fondly. But he did the right thing (by resigning). He obviously did a terrible thing.

Wow. I'd expect that comment from a Republican, family values guy, but from a progressive Democrat? If that's how he views gay sex, he's going to have an even bigger problem with the gay community than he did before.

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    Because (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 01:17:39 AM EST
    of Republican social and moralist beliefs, many gays stay closeted. That results in them retreating to public places like restrooms to get a tryst. It's not offensive to them, it's unfortunate they can't all be out in the open. For a closeted, gay person, whose to say it's "terrible" given our societal perception of gay sex as a whole?

    When gays can come out of the closet, free of bigotry, then bathrooms might not be needed. Until then, they have every right to find the kind of companionship they desire wherever they can, without so-called progressives tearing them down for "doing a terrible thing."

    Sex in Public Places is not a right (none / 0) (#5)
    by cmpnwtr on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 02:18:49 AM EST
    On what legal precedent are you basing this right, for individuals to engage in sexual relations in public places? It is certainly not a constitutional right. Is it a right exclusively for gay people? So if I understand this correctly, you are advocating that designated public places, rest rooms, etc. be a place of sexual relations, for gays, straights, whomever. And whoever uses those facilities (even children) have no right to any protection from exposure to other persons' sexual behavior, and laws providing protection against such behavior, whether it be gay or straight sex, are to be disregarded. Strange understanding of law and ethics for someone who is an officer of the court.

    I guess you were never a teenager (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:39:20 AM EST
    when the only sex I could get was in some sort of semi public parking sparking spot that the whole town was well aware of and on different nights of the week contained many cars.  

    Big difference between a parking space and (none / 0) (#11)
    by jerry on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:28:12 AM EST
    a restroom.

    The makeout sites are usually available primarily to car drivers, and semi-public, and specifically not where children will be.

    And in fact, what you've never seen the movies where the cop comes up to the couple in the car making out and tells them to move along?

    And you're right, people know where the makeout spots usually are, and so they can avoid them.  People can't avoid using the restrooms, and they don't know where the sex restrooms are.


    So you're okay with a publicly "known" (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:23:04 AM EST
    gay makeout spot in every town America?  Somehow I think that if such a thing was okay in our society the bathroom "problem" would diminish.

    Gay makeout site, or makeout site? (none / 0) (#15)
    by jerry on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:44:47 AM EST
    Uh, what's wrong with the same parking spaces in the hills overlooking the city that everyone else uses?

    The issue is making out vs. public sex.

    Anyone in the hills having sex gets arrested.  People making out may get a flashlight lighting up the fog.

    What do I care who is parked up on Mulholland Drive?  

    People having sex in public have a hard time saying they have some need to be closeted.

    And really, Muholland Drive vs. the Airport restroom?  That's really a non-obvious choice?


    I'm somewhat socially retarded right now (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 12:01:27 PM EST
    I've been in the deep South for two plus years and tend to reflect what I live around I think where this social issue is concerned.  Everyone has an agreed social blindness about hetroparking but homoparking could be a problem and if homos park next to hetros what if someone starts getting ideas and stops liking the opposite sex because of that?  Seems to me that people where I live actually think like that.

    I'm not sure who "them" is (none / 0) (#13)
    by jerry on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:58:59 AM EST
    Gays, or just closeted gays?

    I'm also not sure you have any data for your claim that a significant proportion of gays or closeted gays feel that sex in a public restroom is necessary.  

    My reading of comments in various blogs the past week (not a valid method of data collection) pretty much confirms my belief that NO ONE, gay, straight, closeted, out, feels as you do.

    It's also a pretty bizarre argument that closeted gays that desire to stay closeted are forced to use public restrooms in one of the nations busiest airports to engage in an activity the claim they don't want to be associated with.

    P.S. Jeralyn, would you consider increasing the amount of space we can use for comment subjects?


    since sen. craig didn't engage in sex of (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by cpinva on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 02:02:42 AM EST
    any kind, you all are way off the mark. frankly, it isn't even at all clear to me he actually committed any infraction of the law. unless being fidgety in public is now illegal.

    that he dealt with police & prosecutors, without benefit of legal counsel, was incredibly stupid. for that reason alone he should resign, the man obviously lacks judgement.

    is he gay? i haven't the slightest idea. it would seem he's kind of admitted to being so, but that isn't at all clear either, since he's also denied it vehemently.

    as for richardson, he's already reached his level of incompetence.

    This isn't about his being gay or not (none / 0) (#7)
    by kovie on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:11:56 AM EST
    Not among non-wingnuts, at least. What it is about is his breaking the law by soliciting sex--gay or straight--in an illegal and inappropriate manner in a public place, AND his allegedly being gay despite having made a career of gay bashing.

    That this WAS an alleged solicitation for gay sex is clearly what brought him down in party that can ill afford to offend its dwindling homophobic wingnut base. But that's not what bothers the rest of us about his behavior. His being a hypocritical lawbreaker who engages in creepy public behavior is.

    Which is precisely the reason that we believe that Vitter should step down as well. But, of course, he's NOT gay, so all is ok in wingnutland.


    Actually, did he solicit sex?? (1.00 / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:47:40 PM EST
    Did he plead guilty? (none / 0) (#25)
    by kovie on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:12:30 AM EST
    Did the cop lie? Did he not go through a series of well-known steps that indicate the solicitation of sex? Has this not happened to him before?

    No, none of this prove that he absolutely DID solicit sex, but this appears to pass the reasonable doubt test for me. Informally, of course. A trial would obviously require poring through the evidence and testimony carefully.

    One is certainly welcome to believe Craig. Who knows, maybe he WAS framed, or a victim of a huge misunderstanding. But the evidence is not his friend here. And even Craig disputes Craig, or else why did he plead guilty?

    Was he, um, tortured?


    So.... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:19:37 AM EST
    I can make a pass at a girl at the airport bar, but Craig can't make a pass at a guy in the john?

    Doesn't seem fair.  

    Hopefully, if Craig wasn't entrapped first, he would have found a partner and went to a hotel.  If they go at it in the john, then its a crime, but I can't believe merely making a pass is a crime.  That's nuts.


    It't not about being gay or making a pass (none / 0) (#28)
    by kovie on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 03:10:16 PM EST
    at someone of either sex. It's about WHERE one does it. Public restrooms are off-limits. The inappropriateness not to mention creepiness seems pretty self-evident to me, for reasons that need no elaboration.

    And yes, I know that there are exceptions, such as the bathrooms of certain kinds of bars and clubs that are known to be pickup spots, but most people who go to such places understand that beforehand, and even then there are certain lines that cannot be crossed, both social and legal. But public restrooms that are used by the general public are not such places.

    As for making a pass at a woman in a bar, that also depends. If you say hi and offer to buy her a drink, that's one thing, but if you leer at and ogle her and harrass her and try to fondle her, you're crossing the line and subject to arrest. It's all about context, and you should know that.


    Couldn't Agree More (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:50:15 AM EST
    Wow. I'd expect that comment from a Republican....

    This is not leaking the name of a CIA agent, nor phonying up the cause to war, illegal wiretapping, voter caging, voting against gay rights, corruption etc. Whatever you feel about discreet sex in a public bathroom. This is a minor thing.

    Richardson should have kept his mouth shut.

    Degree (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by chemoelectric on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 11:07:12 AM EST
    What strikes me is that Richardson calls 'terrible' something that was, at most, a moderately regrettable action. What happened to the comparison of mountains with molehills?

    Of course Craig ought to have resigned but so should all the other so-called 'Republicans' in Washington, so I don't know that it means very much.

    Who else has Richardson called on (none / 0) (#21)
    by Demi Moaned on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:36:25 PM EST
    ... to resign among Republican legislators? You hit the nail on the head.

    The fact that he thought this was so important to comment on when Republican legislators have committed so many crimes that materially affect the quality of public policy, speaks volumes.

    I am so tired of the Richardson candidacy.


    Being gay (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by tnthorpe on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 11:42:12 PM EST
    isn't what's going on here. Our easy categories dramatically misrepresent the complexity of sexuality, but a person is still responsible for what they do, gay, straight, or indifferent.

    I think that Craig was doing a terrible thing. He was soliciting for anonymous sex with a trick in a toilet which would be, among other things, cheating on his wife. I'd be angry if my partner did that, I can't see why it isn't thought of as terrible. Do he and his wife have an open relationship (how 70s if they do)?  Discreet, married = liar.

    Now, that doesn't mean not to have compassion for Craig. I know lots of guys who came out late and they hurt lots of people too. But they didn't make political capital out of gay bashing. They did their best to mend fences and acknowledge who they are.

    As for the general sense of surprise that this sort of policing goes on, I'm baffled. Homophobia is alive and well, even as things are much better now than pre-Stonewall or Bowers vs Hardwick. But that issue aside, it's never been true that a public bathroom in a busy airport is congenial to a quick, risk-free tryst. Tearoom trade has always been taboo, and that's one of its primary thrills.

    As for Richardson, I'm not interested in his candidacy for other reasons, but I don't think he made a misstatement here in my very gay opinion.

    I am beginning to wonder how you view gay sex! (none / 0) (#1)
    by jerry on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 12:44:02 AM EST
    It's not clear at all that Richardson thinks gay sex is a terrible thing.  It is very conceivable he things public restroom sex is a terrible thing.


    Seriously, the various gay commenters I've seen on this all pretty much say that there is no reason to give anyone a pass if they engage in sex in a public restroom.

    Public restroom sex is so pre-Craigslist.

    Sex in public restrooms is Terrible! (none / 0) (#2)
    by cmpnwtr on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 12:50:41 AM EST
    It is offensive and repugnant for anyone to engage in sex in a public restroom, in any public place. Bill Richardson is right! And in the case of Senator Craig it is also terribly hypocritical.

    Details missing (none / 0) (#18)
    by manys on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 03:31:22 PM EST
    We don't know that that's what Richardson was saying. For all we know he thinks it's terrible that a sitting Senator would plead guilty without a lawyer, making Craig is too stupid to be a Senator.

    Really? (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 03:55:45 PM EST
    "We were almost always on opposite sides," Richardson said, "but he was a decent human being and I remember him fondly. But he did the right thing (by resigning). He obviously did a terrible thing. He did what he had to do. They (the Republicans) wouldn't have kept the seat."

    And from the TL link Jeralyn provided sounds like he has some problems with GLBT, because in his heart he thinks gay marriage is wrong.

    Richardson, who supports civil unions, was asked if he would veto a gay marriage bill because he believed in his heart that same-sex marriage is wrong. He replied, "I don't want to get into that. I thought you guys were going to ask me about other stuff. Don't you care about other stuff?"

    Richardson is clearly not a communicator (none / 0) (#6)
    by kovie on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 04:05:49 AM EST
    at the very LEAST. Who knows what he was actually trying to say here. But even if he meant that Craig did a terrible thing by trying to hit on a man in a public rest room for the purpose of having sex with him--which I believe is both creepy and probably illegal, even if it's more understandable that this would happen among gay than straight people because of the social stigma still attached to being gay--by being so vague here, he's once again stuck his foot in his mouth.

    Incidentally, it's not gay sex or soliciting gay sex in public restrooms that I find creepy, but ANY sex, gay or straight, in such places. The orientation is not the point--the public sex in a very inappropriate public place is. It's generally unpleasant enough as it is to use most public rest rooms--especially in such crowded places as airports--that one doesn't need yet another reason.

    Just recently, while dropping someone off at the airport, I saw a young straight couple enter a rest room together and lock the door behind them, almost certainly in order to have a "quickie" (or, perhaps, to use drugs or who knows what). This was a so-called "family changing room", obviously to allow parents to change their babies' diapers and such in private, and was not meant for non-parents or people without babies in their charge to abuse for their own "needs".

    What people do in their own private lives is obviously their business. This includes Craig. But when they put it out in public, as Craig did, engage in illegal activities, as Foley and Craig did, or directly contradict the moral code that they have repeatedly and loudly espoused, as they and Vitter did, they lose that right to privacy and being left alone. I certainly hope that this is what Richardson meant.

    I guess this is a thread about Richardson and gays (none / 0) (#8)
    by JSN on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:43:34 AM EST
    What has Richardson said in the past that suggests he is pro-gay? If he is not pro-gay what difference will it make to gays what he said?

    Forced resignations are not that common and most of the ones I remember were cabinet members or political staff members not elected officials. The Craig incident has turned out to be a political avalanche and the candidates are being asked about it and evidently Richardson was not prepared.

    When Richardson was in Iowa City I attended one of his "job interviews" and he was asked a lot of very good questions and he gave answers that sounded good to most unless it was on something he was not prepared to answer. Then he stumbled.

    I am interested in criminal justice issues and he was asked about corrections and drug policy and his answers sounded pretty good. I went home and looked up what he had done about corrections as Governor of New Mexico and he had accomplished nothing. However the New Mexico DOC has a good web page.

    Three words (none / 0) (#20)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:34:30 PM EST
    sum up Bill Richardson:

    Kissinger and Associates

    I'm sorry folks.... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:23:31 AM EST
    sex in a bathroom isn't "terrible".  Terrible is a strong word....war is terrible, murder is terrible, cancer is terrible.  Sex in the bathroom?  It's a little gross, and certainly not something I wanna see, but far from "terrible".  Lets not lose all perspective here.