In July, Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana admitted to a profound taste for female prostitutes.
Since David Vitter is a staunch proponent of "family values", his use of call girls caused some public displays of consternation in conservative circles, but no powerful Republicans called for his resignation.
Now, it has been discovered that Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, another staunch defender of "family values", has a profound taste for sex with men. But unlike in the case of Vitter, some powerful Republicans, including the White House, are either distancing themselves from Senator Craig, or outright calling for his resignation. According to the BBC:
Republican leaders announced on Wednesday that Mr Craig had agreed temporarily to stand down from three Senate committees.At first blush it seems frequenting call girls is still within the Republican's definition of "conduct becoming to a senator", but having sex with men is somehow still taboo for a senator. Otherwise, why are the Republicans distancing themselves from Craig when they didn't do the same to Vitter? Is there a double standard going on? Is homophobia to blame?
"This is not a decision we take lightly, but we believe this is in the best interest of the Senate until this situation is resolved by the ethics committee," a statement issued by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and others said.
Speaking on the NBC network's Tonight Show, Arizona Senator John McCain said: "It harms our reputation with the American people, which is already pretty tarnished."
Republican Senator Norman Coleman, of Minnesota, called for him to stand down, saying: "Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming to a senator."
Michigan Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra also urged his resignation, saying Mr Craig "represents the Republican Party".
[White House] Spokesman Scott Stanzel said in a statement that the White House was "disappointed in the matter".
"We hope that it will be resolved quickly, as that would be in the best interests of the Senate and the people of Idaho," he said.
Mr Craig has already resigned from the 2008 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, former Republican governor of Massachusetts.
Some folks in the blogosphere are saying that's the case. They are speculating that the Republicans want Craig out because he's a homosexual, while Vitter has been allowed to stay because he's a heterosexual.
However, homophobia might not be the full story here. If Vitter resigned, the Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, would appoint his successor. Ms. Blanco is a Democrat, and would presumably appoint a Democrat to replace the Republican senator. But if Craig resigns, the Governor of Idaho, C. L. "Butch" Otter, would presumably appoint his successor -- and Butch is a Republican. So, it's safe for Republicans to call for Craig's resignation on moral grounds, but not safe for them to call for Vitter's resignation on moral grounds.
I should note, though, that I've had the devil's own time confirming that the Governor's of both Louisiana and Idaho would be responsible for appointing a senator's successor. Yet, even if one, the other, or both governor's are not, the equation doesn't change that much. That's because if the governor doesn't appoint a successor, the alternative would be for an election to be held. And in Louisiana, that's most likely to lead to a Democrat as senator, while in Idaho that's most likely to lead to a Republican as senator. So, if Vitter steps down, the Senate most likely picks up a Democrat, but if Craig steps down, the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate stays the same.