Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More On David Vitter - updated

A lot of folks over at Daily Kos thought my post on Senator David Vitter's affair was too soft, and that I was cutting him too much slack. They may have been right. The thrust of the post was to say it's always sad when officials fall down, and that I don't think this scandal will have any electoral ripple effect. I still believe that, but I also implied that I'm willing to believe his apology and his attempts to do better. So here is the mea culpa - I've learned some things in the last two days that may make me rethink that. In other words, I stand by the thrust of what I said, but it would seem I was too hasty in the details.

Senator Vitter is known as a hard-line right wing Catholic. The fact that the Giuliani camp was able to get an endorsement from such a conservative Southerner was a big coup for them. Now, I'm not going to call a man a hypocrite and an evil person just because he fell down. No one is perfect, and we will all depart from our values from time to time, both on the left and the right. Hopefully our sins won't be as heinous as Vitter's adultery, but nevertheless, they will happen. The question is, when we apologize, do we mean it? Are we honestly sorry, and will we really be doing our best to "go and sin no more"? (Vitter certainly is hypocritical for going on and on about the threat to marriage homosexuality poses, but that's a political issue, and I am focused on the personal. Same subject, two discussions.)

My initial post implied that I was willing to believe his apology, and his attempts to do better. And I was. He said he had worked this out with his wife in private a long time ago, and the affair we heard about is indeed several years old. However, I've heard a lot more about Vitter in the past two days that wasn't in the initial news reports and that I previously didn't know. Apparently, the guy's got a long history of sexual dalliances - hiring this prostitute isn't the only one. These are things NOLA residents and journalists know that national journalists and storm-watchers may not, which is why I was in the dark. Joe over at Blagueur is all over the story - he's made eight posts since the news broke. During the 2004 campaign, then-Congressman Vitter had to deny accusations about hiring a Canal Street prostitute. Those accusations were leveled at him by a fellow Republican. Joe also says Vitter was once accused of assault - and while I wouldn't classify the incident as assault, it certainly was inappropriate. Your Right Hand Thief, NOLA Blogger, and People Get Ready have also commented on the scandal. Rumors of other affairs abound, too, as Granny Doc tells us.

There is another point I hadn't stopped to consider before, raised by several DK members. To have an affair is one thing - it's not illegal, and doesn't involved lobbyists or tax dollars. To have an affair with a prostitute is entirely different - in both New Orleans and DC, paying for sex is illegal. Personal discussion of meaning your apology and doing better don't change, but the political consequences do, and rightfully so.

I still hope Senator Vitter is going to overcome these discretions, but it does seem a little more unlikely than I initially realized.

Also, completely aside from the sex scandal, we now have Granny Doc telling us Vitter may have been involved with ultra-racist David Duke, and Forsapphus at Daily Kos writes that Vitter:

--campaigned on allowing us to get prescription drugs from Canada, and then turned around and voted against that proposal the first chance he got...

--stands in way of New Orleans getting back the city's Level-1 Trauma Center, because it also involves rebuilding Charity Hospital.

(Dismantling health care for poor people--how Christian!)

These last points - David Duke, prescription drugs, and the Trauma Center - are irrelevant to the sex scandal, which is what my last post was about. But they are very, very relevant to the overall story of David Vitter, which is not what my post was about - but maybe it should have been.

UPDATE: Hat tip to RandySF at Daily Kos for pointing out that Vitter called on Bill Clinton to resign for his extramarital affairs. I wonder if Vitter will heed his own advice? Or publicly state he was wrong to say that about Clinton? ... Nah. Probably not.

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