Five years ago, when he defeated Democrat Chris John in the primary to become the first Republican in Louisiana elected to the United States Senate since Reconstruction, David Vitter positioned and marketed himself as a “family values” candidate. He ran a brilliantly entrepreneurial and effective campaign, no doubt about it.
During his first few years as a United States Senator, Vitter and his wife spearheaded the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority (the LCRM), an organization that funneled money and endorsements to hand-selected Republican candidates, with the hope of gaining Republican majorities in the Louisiana House and Senate. Ultimately, Vitter, his wife, and the LCRM failed, and believe it or not, Democrats still represent the majority.
To many, it may seem meddlesome for a United States Senator to involve himself so directly in local elections. For those of us in Louisiana, it harkens back to the Kingfish. But unlike Huey, David Vitter’s LCRM was unsuccessful, and, for the most part, they’ve retreated into the backdrop.
Now we face a decision about re-electing David Vitter as our United States Senator.
So, let’s be honest:
Unfortunately, Mr. Vitter has become a statewide and national embarrassment.
As it turns out, Senator Vitter, a man who once rallied for the impeachment of President Clinton on the basis of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, had a predilection for prostitutes. “Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess,” Vitter said at the time.
When Vitter’s personal phone number turned up in the records of D.C. Madam Deborah Jean Palfrey, he quickly took to the stage and admitted to a “serious sin,” offering no other specifics and refusing to answer questions about similar “sins” in New Orleans. To be sure, Mr. Vitter has never specifically denied these accusations, though he decided not to take the advice he offered President Clinton and resign from office.
Remember, Louisiana elected Mr. Vitter, in large part, on his platform of family values, a platform that was publicly and irreparably destroyed.
Today, it seems, Mr. Vitter believes he can avoid criticism and win re-election to the United States Senate by running as a hard-line ideologue.
He’s not the “family values” candidate this time. He’s the candidate who runs commercials featuring ominous looking hispanics as a way of scaring people about illegal immigration. He’s the candidate who supports lawsuits that would challenge the President’s birth certificate. Instead of admitting his own faults and humanity, David Vitter is running a campaign built on fear, divisiveness, and subtle bigotry.
A few months ago, the prevailing, “inside the Beltway” wisdom was that anyone who opposed Vitter didn’t need to spend money in order to remind people about the whole D.C. madam/prostitution scandal, as if it was a fait accompli, as if voters didn’t need to be reminded about how this scandal completely undermined his credibility and effectiveness. Apparently, however, voters are in need of a refresher.
Seriously, can we be honest about David Vitter?
But most importantly, despite the prostitution scandal, Louisianans should review Mr. Vitter’s record on its merits: What has he championed for Louisiana? What has he returned to our Great State? How has he collaborated with our delegation in order to effectuate change? What has David Vitter really accomplished?
There are politicians who believe their job is political and ideological, and there are politicians who believe their job is practical and results-oriented.
To me, Mr. Vitter fashions himself as a partisan ideologue, instead of a champion for Louisiana.
And he still hasn’t been honest about his “serious sin.”
So, again, can we be honest about David Vitter?