Sen. Craig Scandal Means GOP Is Doomed (Again)

Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg lovingly lingered over a long list of Republican ethical woes.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg used Sen. Larry Craig's men's room misdeed for a front-page "Political Memo," "A Scandal-Scarred G.O.P. Asks, 'What Next?'"

After revealing the dingy details of Craig's behavior in a men's room in a Minneapolis airport in July (Craig pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct), Stolberg snorted:

"It was a bizarre spectacle, and only the latest in a string of accusations of sexual foibles and financial misdeeds that have landed Republicans in the political equivalent of purgatory, the realm of late-night comic television."

Stolberg lovingly lingered over a familiar list of Republican ethical woes.

"Forget Mark Foley of Florida, who quit the House last year after exchanging sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age male pages, or Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist whose dealings with the old Republican Congress landed him in prison. They are old news, replaced by a fresh crop of scandal-plagued Republicans, men like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number turned up on the list of the so-called D.C. Madam, or Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, both caught up in F.B.I. corruption investigations.

In a reach for balance, Stolberg devoted a single sentence to Democrat Rep. William Jefferson of cash in the freezer fame. But there was no mention of another airport incident, this one involving Congressional Democrat Bob Filner, charged earlier this monthwith assault ofan airline worker at Dulles International Airport in a case involving a delayed bag. The Times only printed an Associated Press brief on the Filner case.

Stolberg piled on.

"It is enough to make a self-respecting Republican want to tear his hair out in frustration, especially as the party is trying to defend an unpopular war, contain the power of the new Democratic majority on Capitol Hill and generate some enthusiasm among voters heading toward the presidential election in 2008.

Stolberg even delved down into scandals involving state GOP machines:

"Then again, Washington does not have a monopoly on the latest trend among Republicans. Just ask Thomas Ravenel, the state treasurer of South Carolina, who had to step down as state chairman of Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential campaign after he was indicted on cocaine charges in June.

"Or Bob Allen, a state representative in Florida who was jettisoned from the John McCain campaign last month after he was arrested on charges of soliciting sex in a public restroom."