There was a time, not too long ago, when a politician getting arrested for any reason was likely to cause trouble for his or her career. If an officeholder got taken into police custody for a DUI, that was considered a scandal. If that policymaker claimed not to drink alcohol and then got arrested for a DUI, it would be a story that's tough to live down.
But it appears standards and expectations have changed, and we live in a political era of unexpected tolerance. Just two weeks after Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) was busted on a DUI charge, and just days after he pleaded guilty in a Virginia court, he's poised to receive a promotion.
Sen. Mike Crapo is quickly trying to move past his drunken-driving scandal, announcing Tuesday he's expected to become the top Republican on the powerful Banking Committee and will serve as Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn's top deputy in the new Congress. [...]As Cornyn's chief deputy for the 113th Congress, Crapo will lead a team of senators as they whip votes and communicate messaging and strategy to their GOP colleagues.
I'm not criticizing the developments, necessarily, or suggesting he should be punished severely by his colleagues. In fact, as political controversies go, Crapo's transgression seems fairly minor, especially since he didn't hurt anyone. Stepping back, though, I find it hard not to marvel at the surprisingly libertine attitudes in the socially-conservative Republican Party.
It's possible, if not likely, that DUI arrests no longer carry the shock value that they once did, even when they involve a sitting U.S. senator. But it's nevertheless striking when a senator who claims to abstain from alcohol finds himself arrested, only to get a promotion two weeks later, facing no adverse political consequences at all for his misdeeds.
This would have been hard to predict in the not-too-distant past.