The amazing speed with which the GOP hustled Larry Craig off the stage was pretty startling. Crooks and Liars has the video of his departure. The all-out effort to push him out stands in stark contrast not only to what happened with David Vitter but also the rash of other GOP miscreants and freaks who simply find Jesus and go on with business as usual until they are indicted.
Barr, one of the most conservative members of Congress when he served in the House, leads an increasing group of disenchanted Republicans who have had enough of Bush’s misuse of the law and encroachment of civil liberties that are supposed to be protected by the Constitution. He has joined with fellow conservative firebrand Phyllis Schlafly and the ultra-liberal American Civil Liberties Union to fight renewal of many of the rights-robbing provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
And he’s not alone. Republican Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Larry Craig of Idaho and Olympia Snowe of Maine question Bush’s actions along with Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bush is also angry with Craig, a conservative who joined with Democrats in a filibuster to defeat permanent renewal of the Patriot Act. As a meeting recently, Bush referred to Craig as “a goddamned traitor” and told the National Republican Senatorial Committee to start recruiting someone to run against the Idaho Senator in 2008.
Such anger against those who dare oppose him is typical for a President who all too often launches into obscene tirades when his policies are questioned. Bush, on many occasions, has called political opponents “traitors” and, in private, refers to Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter as a “lily-livered bastard.”
Craig, however, is unfazed by all this and says the Patriot Act “doesn’t do enough to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.”
Dubya is the undisputed head of the party. He gets what he wants. If Ari Fleischer is running one million dollars’ worth of pro-war ads in the Pennsylvania area putting pressure on Republicans to support his pet war, it sure ain’t because he’s off the reservation.
Larry Craig thus becomes a powerful lesson to anyone in the party who might think of crossing the Boy King, be it over the war or FISA or anything else: do so at your own peril. I think all those “Republicans of conscience” that everyone was predicting we’d see in Magical September are going to be something of an endangered species.