Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Senator Mike Crapo arrested for DUI

Republican Senator Mike Crapo was arrested for DUI on December 23, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia. While driving under the influence, he ran a red light which caused the local police to pull him over. He failed a field sobriety test with a blood alcohol content of 0.11 percent. Crapo, a Mormon, was caught doing something reckless and shameful. His arrest was a surprise as he is respected in his home state of Idaho for being a man of virtue, but we know all about men of virtue here on Deep Thoughts. They tend to fall rather hard. 

Mike Crapo caught my attention because he is a Mormon bishop and should not drink at all, plus he is a Republican Senator, which normally means his done his fair share of moral lawmaking. People like Mike Crapo sit on a moral bubble. When the bubble pops, I want to know the story. I judge others by what they do. I'll judge Mike Crapo by what he does in the aftermath of his mistake. You should too. 

Prior to his arrest, Crapo was simply a political opponent. As the 39th most senior Senator, he had amassed some influential committee assignments, including the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the Committee on Finance. He may end up as the top Republican on tthe Senate Banking Committee next year, plus he was a member of the Gang of Six. Crapo is a player in the Republican party. He’s not a leader yet, but a solid foot soldier on his way to the top. When a foot shoulder in the war for the hearts and minds of Americans falters, it gets my attention. We should notice this type of character flaw. It tells us a lot about how he will lead in the future.

Mike Crapo published an apology:

“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance. I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter." It is a rare thing to see a real apology, but that is what this is. Crapo admits his mistake, apologizes for it, and promises to take responsibility."

Mike Crapo is being compared to Larry Craig because it is a rare thing to see the arrest of a United States Senator and people want a frame of reference. I don’t buy into the Christian notion that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. Some crimes can and often do result in the death others. A high school friend of mine in doing 12 year in prison for driving drunk… and killing a man in a traffic accident. The difference between my friend and Mike Crapo is simply that the police caught Crapo before he could kill anyone. Comparing Crapo to Craig is not possible. Sex does not kill. The Idaho Statesmen would like us to believe is it is a simple mistake and not a horrible sexual misstep like the that of Larry Craig. 

One mistake does not erase an otherwise honorable career. It’s a good guess that the embarrassment anybody might feel for him is nothing compared with the embarrassment he feels for himself. It’s bad enough that Crapo has to explain himself to his wife and family. It’s worse when he has to explain himself to 1.6 million constituents, many of whom have viewed Crapo as an example of what American politics should be about.

On the other hand, both Crapo and Craig failed as leaders within their political movement. Craig lived a lie and that lie eventually cost him his reputation and power. Crapo is caught in the same trap. His public fail is both criminal wrongdoing and a moral falling. Who will trust a man who stakes his public reputation on his religion and from abstinence from alcohol? The right answer is nobody. Who will trust a man who cannot control himself? The right answer is nobody. I don't see much of a difference between the impulse control problem of gay sex in a public bathroom and the self control problem if drinking too much and driving. Contrition, rehabilitation, and some serious soul searching are in order Mike Crapo and not the slap on the wrist that is sure to follow.

Do we cut Senator Mke Crapo a second chance? I would, but only after he pays his debt to society.