In a sign of how toxic the political environment is for Senate Republicans, the GOP leadership in the Senate asked Sen. Larry Craig to give up his committee assignments--and then put out a public statement about it. The move is supposedly temporary, until the Ethics Committee sorts out the complaints against Craig over his conviction in the airport bathroom incident. One of those ethics complaints yesterday came from none other than the Senate GOP leadership itself.
Meanwhile, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), one of the most vulnerable Republicans seeking re-election next year, this afternoon called publicly for Craig's resignation. Nearly simultaneously, Sen. John McCain, a presidential candidate, did so as well. No Democrats in the Senate have yet said Craig should resign.
While most Senate Republicans can't distance themselves from Craig fast enough, Trent Lott, having been through the wringer himself over the comments he made about Strom Thurmond that cost him his position as Senate majority leader, is more circumspect, telling Bloomberg TV's "Money & Politics":
I am shocked and I am disappointed at you know, this turn of events. . . but I also have learned the hard way that before you jump to conclusions or call on people to do one thing or another at least know all of the facts and you know take advantage of an opportunity to hear what, you know, really happened."
That's the sober assessment of a politician who has stared into the abyss.
Election Central has a rundown on what happens if Craig were to heed the calls to step down.