The definition of a hypocrite, one who professes virtues that he does not respect to secure the advantage of seeming to be that which he despises, was never more singularly personified than it is in the Republican senator from Idaho, Larry Craig.
Last week when a Minnesota judge denied Craig’s appeal to retract his guilty plea from his disorderly conduct charge, which came from a sex sting operation, Craig instead retracted his promise to resign by Sept. 30. His explanation according to an Oct. 5 article in the Chicago Tribune was that he now wishes to clear his name in the senate ethics committee, which would not be possible if he were to resign. Craig, who referred to President Clinton as a "naughty, bad, nasty boy who needs to be punished, now finds himself in a similar position only worse because it is now his former friends in the Republican party who are lobbing similar criticisms in his direction.
At this point it seems that the most sensible move for Craig would be to bow out gracefully except for Craig and others like him, such a concession of defeat would diminish the thing he holds most dear; his "Breastplate of Righteousness."
That phrase was originally coined by Laud Humphreys, a sociologist who took an in-depth look into the lives of men whose sexual practices deviate from the values around which their core identity is formed.
In his dissertation titled "Tearoom Trade," Humphreys stated, "In donning the breastplate of righteousness, the covert deviant assumes a protective shield of superpropriety. His armor has a particular shiny quality, a refulgence, which tends to blind the audience to certain of his practices. To others in his everyday world he is not only normal but righteous -and exemplar of good behavior and right thinking." In fact, according to Humphreys, it tends to be the breastplate of righteousness crowd, mounted on their high horses who tend to lead the charge against whatever it is that their public persona stands against and Craig is a textbook example of this. The old adage that there is always a witch behind a witch hunt rings true here.
So, if a senator gets caught in a public restroom with his breastplate of righteousness down, how badly does it get tarnished? Can the amount of tarnish incurred ever be buffed back to its original sheen?
Bill Clinton was much better off in this situation because he did not build his reputation by rallying the political will of his party against the heterosexual community. Craig however is well known for using his particularly wide anti-gay stance to establish his reputation in the Republican Party.
Each day that Craig remains in office, brings more discredit to the Republicans and more disgrace to the office of Senator. Surely such a conscientious hypocrite must realize this. So it makes one wonder if he is just hanging on out of spite.