The Idaho Statesman gives Crapo a pass



In a Christmas day opinion piece, The Idaho Statesman editorial board gave Senator Mike Crapo a gift- an “all is forgiven” free pass for his DUI. The editorial is an example of easy rationalizations and faulty logic. There is no point in asking that Crapo somehow pay for his “mistake”. After all, he is human and, this is the holiday season, and he had a lot on his mind with the “fiscal cliff” problem and all, and, of course, he has always been a good guy…

Idaho constituents have learned a few things about Sen. Mike Crapo over the past couple of days. He has shown three things: That he is human, that he can make a mistake and that lemonade is not the strongest drink in his glass. At the moment, he also has something more on his mind than the fiscal cliff.

What happened to Mike Crapo in the early morning of Dec. 23 can happen to a lot of people, especially during the holiday season. He attended a social gathering in Alexandria, Va., had a few drinks and drove home. Maybe he didn’t realize he had too much to drink when he left the social event.

But running a red light got the attention of the police, and failing the sobriety tests clearly showed that Crapo had no business driving. He spent a few hours in jail to go along with his personal shame, but it could have been worse.

Crapo had “no business driving”, but he spent a few hours in jail. That, and the personal shame he feels, is punishment enough for the Statesman.

How did the members of the Editorial Board know that it was just an honest mistake on Senator Crapo’s part and he didn’t realize he had had too much to drink?

Some of us here have known Crapo since his days as an up-and-coming state senator from Idaho Falls in the 1980s. We followed his rise to Senate president pro-tem, and his 20-year congressional career. He has maintained a reputation of integrity and decency, which doesn’t always happen after so many years in high political office.

One mistake does not erase an otherwise honorable career. It’s a good guess that the embarrassment anybody might feel for him is nothing compared with the embarrassment he feels for himself. It’s bad enough that Crapo has to explain himself to his wife and family. It’s worse when he has to explain himself to 1.6 million constituents, many of whom have viewed Crapo as an example of what American politics should be about.

The editorial compares Crapo’s “mistake” with former Senator Larry Craig’s infamous episode in the restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Crapo should be forgiven because, unlike Craig, he “manned up” and accepted responsibility. Plus, being LDS, he has to be suffering terrible guilt and embarrassment.Sorry, but I don’t buy that distinction. There are two points of comparison to be made between the two episodes. One is the nature of the “mistake”. In Craig’s case he was involved in an incident that, at worse, would be between two consenting adults. In Crapo’s case, by running a red light while drunk, he was putting innocent drivers in harms way. My wife’s parents were both killed by a drunk driver and I have little sympathy for those who rationalize away drunk driving. The second point of comparison is the issue of hypocrisy. Here they are both equally guilty. Crapo is a Mormon and has said on many occasions that he does not now and never has consumed alcohol. Craig, of course, famously said that he is not and never has been gay.

One consequence of living in a state dominated by one party is that politicians make “mistakes” and are hardly ever held accountable. The Seattle PI has a nice overview of recent Idaho political scandals including DUIs for Gov. Butch Otter and state Senator John McGee. They also remember Steve “take a bite out of government” Symms. They left out other members of Idaho’s hall of infamy like George Hansen and Helen Chenoweth, but their point had already been made.

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