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Wrecking On The Craigy Rocks

Posted by Victoria Reynolds | Posted in Congress | Posted on 31-08-2007

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Ruth Marcus provides good historical precedent for the Larry Craig escapade:

He was an important political figure, arrested for engaging in lewd conduct in a public men’s room. Married, with children, he told no one. Instead he pleaded guilty without even hiring a lawyer, hoping the problem would quietly disappear.

When, as was inevitable, the press got hold of the story, his erstwhile supporters quickly distanced themselves — and commissioned a poll to assess the political damage. His career in politics was over.

This man was not Idaho Sen. Larry Craig but Walter Jenkins, the aide Lyndon B. Johnson called “my vice president in charge of everything.” Jenkins was arrested in October 1964 for having sex in the men’s room of the Washington YMCA. …

When the story broke just a few weeks before the 1964 election, Johnson scarcely hesitated before instructing Abe Fortas to secure the resignation of Jenkins, his longest-serving aide.

But there’s another interesting element to the Jenkins tale worth remembering: the actions of Bill Moyers.

A few years back Bob Novak wrote about Judge Laurence H. Silberman, who was Instructed by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 to report on secret files kept by J. Edgar Hoover.  Here’s Novak:

Even worse than “dirt collection,” Silberman continued, was Hoover’s offering of Bureau files to presidents. He exempted only Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower from this use of FBI files, but said, “Lyndon Johnson was the most demanding.”

When President Johnson’s aide Walter Jenkins was arrested for homosexual conduct in a men’s room during the 1964 campaign, Silberman said, LBJ aide Bill  Moyers directed Hoover to find similar conduct on Barry Goldwater’s staff. “Moyers’ memo to the FBI was in one of the files,” he continued. An “outraged”  Moyers telephoned Silberman, he said, to assert that the memo was “phony.” “Taken aback,” said Silberman, he offered an investigation to publicly exonerate  Moyers. “There was a pause on the line, and then he [Moyers] said, ‘I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?’” “Silberman’s account of our conversation is at odds with mine,” Moyers told me when I asked for comment.


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