This announcement was certainly more dignified than the last, so I have to give him props for that. But I come not to praise Craig. One of the most powerful members of the GOP in terms of what he could do to this region of the country, is departing. Joel Connelly, in yesterday's Seattle PI, chronicled just one aspect of his long and exceedingly conservative career:
[H]is actions in backrooms of the nation's capital deserve attention. Call it a Craig's List of how to block good deeds, or at least see that they don't go unpunished.
Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., came to politics out of the very conservative Wyoming Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau.... He died earlier this year.
Thomas had a warm spot in his heart for a stirring place -- the canyon of the Snake River as it bends around the Teton Mountains and crosses from Wyoming into Idaho. Its headwaters are in Yellowstone National Park. ... Before he died, Thomas introduced legislation to protect the Snake River headwaters country under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
In a Democratic-controlled Senate, Craig has single-handedly prevented the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from taking action on Thomas' bill, which is supported by both Wyoming senators....
Craig has been at it again recently, offering a little-noticed rider to this year's appropriations bill.
It says the Interior Department should carry out "without further delay" provisions of an Upper Snake River "biological opinion" released in 2005 by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Well, there's a problem: The biological opinion was ruled illegal by U.S. District Judge James Redden. Under orders from Redden, the federal government is about to issue new, more scientific-based (and fish-friendly) plans for the river....
As Craig becomes a pariah, his fellow senators -- notably Washington Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell -- ought to look at his Upper Snake River gambit. Implementing the old biological opinion would benefit a small number of Idaho irrigators at the expense of a resource -- salmon -- that helps define the Pacific Northwest.
Is Larry Craig staying until September 30 to make sure he kills his old friend's dying dream to protect the upper Snake River? Is he staying to make sure the rider he inserted in the appropriations bill to upend a district court ruling and torpedo a more environmentally plan from being implemented?
Larry Craig might be a figure worthy of compassion in his private life. He's obviously conflicted and in denial, as his police interview tape and bizarre press conference earlier in the week show. But Larry Craig the Senator has been a powerful and destructive force for the long term economic and environmental health of the very place he calls home.
Update: Red State Rebel was at the press conference, and blogs it in this diary. Her perspective from the ground is invaluable.