Ben Stein: Larry Craig Railroaded from Power
Actor and commentator Ben Stein strongly defended Larry Craig on Friday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," arguing that the police officer who arrested the Idaho Republican senator used "Gestapo tactics" to "browbeat" him into pleading guilty when, in fact, Craig had not committed any illegal act.
"He didn't do anything. He tapped his foot," Stein said. "And I don't like the idea that people are sitting in the next stall from you at a public bathroom listening to whether or not you tap your foot. This is, as I said, Gestapo tactics, Gestapo, Gestapo, Gestapo. It's not America."
NEIL CAVUTO: Well former Nixon adviser Ben Stein thinks that Craig was simply railroaded. Ben is the author of yet another great book, probably another best seller, 'The Real Stars.' He joins me now from California. Ben what do you make of this?
BEN STEIN ('The Real Stars' Author): I make of it that it was pure police entrapment and thuggery. I make of it that the fact that the police have real work to do at the airport. It's an airport, hello? There are security problems at airports. Al Qaeda are you listening? Our security people are entrapping perfectly honest U.S. senators in lavatory stalls instead of looking for you terrorists.
This guy went in there, as far as we know, all he did was tap his foot or listen to somebody else tap his foot. He didn't do an illegal act, he didn't do an indecent act. A policeman drags him off, or verbally drags him off, starts browbeating him, essentially threatens he's going to ruin his career if the guy doesn't plead guilty right away.
This is Gestapo tactics in Minneapolis-St. Paul. It's not nice.
CAVUTO: So why did the senator go along and plead--
STEIN: --I think he was just, look I've spent a lot of time in Idaho, these are very nice, innocent people. They're not legal eagles, they're not tough guys, they're not schtarkers, as we say in Yiddish. He's a guy who was afraid his reputation would be ruined if this policeman made whatever he knew public, all right, the policeman obviously already did that. And so he went along, thinking that it'd all stay quiet.
But he didn't do anything. He tapped his foot. And I don't like the idea that people are sitting in the next stall from you at a public bathroom listening to whether or not you tap your foot. This is, as I said, Gestapo tactics, Gestapo, Gestapo, Gestapo. It's not America.
CAVUTO: What do you think of some of the Republicans who've said 'resign,' talk about shooting first and asking questions later?
STEIN: I cannot believe. This is just what they did to Trent Lott. Trent Lott did a totally innocent, a slightly amusing, slightly silly thing. They kicked him out of there even though he was a great leader.
Now they're doing it to Larry Craig. He hasn't done anything wrong and they're ganging up on him. This is some way to treat the people who have been loyal members of your party for many years. What did he do wrong? Suppose, he was soliciting for gay sex. Gay sex is not illegal in the United States, the Supreme Court has said that. If it were illegal, it would be a different story. It's not illegal, he didn't do anything illegal they're just bludgeoning him into a confession.
CAVUTO: So what do you think happens now? If the message is, at least from authorities, that you can go ahead and browbeat someone into the point of making this admission--Maybe like you say, Ben, they realized, hey we have this big senator here, this could make our careers if we bring him down. What then?
STEIN: I think the message is that the executive branch can belittle and destroy the legislative branch, that they can sting anyone they want and ruin his career. I've seen that happen with legislators over and over again. On trumped up charges, they bring down the legislator and change the balance of power within the United States generally. This is a really serious case of police overreaching and the victim here is Larry Craig and the constitution of the United States.
CAVUTO: All right, you're arguing a position that not many have, thank goodness for that. Ben Stein, thank you very much.