The Incongruent Larry Craig
In the movie The Usual Suspects there’s a scene where a detective is interrogating an alleged criminal.
The detective says, “The first thing I learned on the job, know what it was? How to spot a murderer. Let’s say you arrest three guys for the same killing. Put them all in jail overnight. The next morning, whoever is sleeping is your man. If you’re guilty, you know you’re caught, you get some rest – let your guard down, you follow?”
This struck a chord in me about a current event. In the news (you could have hardly avoided it) is the strange story of Senator Larry Craig.
In case you’ve been out of the country (or in case you don’t live the the U.S.), the Republican Senator from Idaho was arrested on June 11th at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer. The officer was investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom.
On August 8th, he pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed, with one year probation.
Craig’s spokesman said it was a “misunderstanding”.
And yet, he pled guilty.
Craig later said, “I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expiditiously.”
Here’s where the incongruity comes in:
1. An innocent man doesn’t plead guilty. An innocent man puts up a huge fight, doesn’t get any sleep, rages about his innocence. (This is not to say that guilty people don’t also use this same tactic.)
2. He didn’t call an attorney. This is always the first thing one does – whether guilty or innocent – when dealing with law enforcement. What’s the “quickest and most expeditious” way to handle a legal matter? Get some representation. Attorneys are like dentists… we don’t really want to deal with them until we REALLY need them, but still… this is a “really need them” situation.
3. By saying, “I have never been gay – nor have I ever been gay,” he believes that it is possible to be gay, say six months ago, then become ungay, say last week. This points towards a “waffling” and cover up.
And last, but perhaps the most incongruous action of all:
4. He didn’t go home and tell his wife about the incident. If something as outrageous as this happened to any one of us and had absolutely no basis in truth, wouldn’t we all go home to our spouses (or families or friends) and say, “You’re not going to believe what happened to me today. It’s the most absurd thing…”
Senator Craig has come up with a scapegoat in the form of “the media”.
He claims that he pled guilty because he had been troubled by the investigations into his alleged homosexuality by the Idaho Statesman and claims that he has “been relentlessly and viciously harassed”.
The media is easily vilified and a safe scapegoat, but here with his “history” it doesn’t ring true.
As persuaders, how, in either situation – whether the allegations are absolutely false or absolutely true – could we frame the story if we were in his shoes?
Did his incongruity give him away?
And what can he do to unframe himself?
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland