Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam."
Vitter's spokesman, Joel Digrado, confirmed the statement in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in the statement. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there — with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."
Though I am no fan of Senator Vitter's, and while I must admit a guilty pleasure in watching the corruption charges against Republican officials mount, my heart aches with this announcement, for several reasons. One, Louisiana needs effective leadership right now, or the slow pace of recovery will only get slower. This kind of Senatorial SNAFU does not make for effective leadership. Two, a good friend of mine whom I respect and admire has close relatives who work very, very close to Senator Vitter, and I hate to see something happen that surely causes their family anguish. Three, whether I personally support him or not, David Vitter is a member of my government, and you hate to have your officials do bad things. And finally, four, the car I drove while I was in New Orleans last fall had a David Vitter bumper sticker on the back - so I think I need to go take a shower. (Picture: President Bush tours Katrina-ravaged New Orleans with Senator Vitter.)
Now, with all that said, I don't think this will have much of a ripple effect on either Louisiana or national politics. Vitter isn't up for re-election until 2010, when this will long be forgotten. Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) is set to become Governor in a landslide later this year, and this doesn't really taint him - so another member of his part dallied around. Whoopdeedoo. By that same token, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) isn't tied to this anyway, so I don't see how it can help her in her re-election bid next year. It's not as if she'll be running against Vitter. And finally, I doubt this will have a national effect, since the next big election is over a year away, and the even more blatant and disgusting sexual antics of an even more powerful man, Newt Gingrich, failed to have a big effect on his party's "family values" image.
Thankfully, this is personal corruption and does not involve the law or taxpayers' dollars. More than anything, it is a personal demon that David Vitter must overcome and ask his family to forgive him for, and it sounds like he has made wonderful strides in that arena. While I will never support him, as a Christian, I do wish him continued success on that front.
Political corruption aside, it sounds like another real sinner in this scandal is the mistress, Madame Palfrey, and her attorney. I was appalled to read the following,
Palfrey's attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, told the AP, 'I'm stunned that someone would be apologizing for this.'
Right, Sibley. Because wedding vows are actually just tentative RSVPs, and the seventh commandment was more of a suggestion than a commandment, really. I pray that you will eventually understand what exactly is wrong here, and be able to ask for forgiveness yourself.
UPDATE, spurned by the comments on my crosspost at Daily Kos: Look, I agree that Vitter is a hyprocrite for yelling about the "sanctity of marriage" while doing this. All I'm saying is that this scandal won't matter from a political standpoint, and from a moral one, I'm willing to believe he MIGHT be turning it around. He has likely had past dalliances, but there's no evidence of anything RECENT. And sometimes, people really do turn it around. I hope that's the case here. I am not making any excuses for his past behavior, because there are no excuses to make. It's reprehensible, but there are other points to make than just repeating that one over and over again.
UPDATE 2: When I say this scandal doesn't matter, I mean politically. Personally, morally, it matters, but it won't have an electoral effect. Although there are a lot of other things to go after Vitter for.