I know some people thought that floating the candidacy of Baton Rouge native porn star Stormy Daniels for the United States Senate was a hilarious way of undermining David Vitter. Ms. Daniels seemed flattered by the so-called grassroots support, and she earnestly pretended like she was taking the whole thing seriously.
But clearly, the whole thing was absurd. An adult film star running for Senate against Vitter would remind voters of Mr. Vitter’s admitted affairs with prostitutes. Therefore voters will vote for the porn star? What?
Ms. Daniels’s “campaign” attempted to position her as more “honest” than Vitter, but even though it took itself very seriously, Ms. Daniels’s “campaign” will be remembered as satire. A joke. This woman could never actually be elected to the United States Senate.
During the last two years, Senator Vitter’s opposition has been unable to properly frame and contextualize Mr. Vitter’s “serious sin.”
Ms. Daniels’s spoof campaign was spearheaded by a well-known Louisiana political operative, Brian Welsh, who, by the way, was allegedly terrorized and car-bombed while he worked on her campaign. Scary stuff, without a doubt. (And I’ve heard some provocative, off-the-record theories about who is actually responsible).
But with all due respect to Ms. Daniels and Mr. Welsh, using the American electoral process as a way of satirizing David Vitter is nothing more than cheap marketing; it exploits the process and diffuses the import of Mr. Vitter’s “serious sin.” Ms. Daniels received a ton of earned and free media, and maybe some people got a good laugh.
I thought the whole charade was stupid, a waste of time, and a complete distraction from the real issues.
Right now, the Louisiana Democratic Party is attempting to change the tone of the conversation about Mr. Vitter’s affairs with prostitutes; instead of tongue-and-cheek satire, the criticism is now packaged as some sort of Unsolved Mysteries, conspiracy theorist-friendly ploy, filled with salacious and ridiculous details.
I understand that recent (proprietary) polling suggests nearly one out of every four in Louisiana has never heard of Senator Vitter’s affairs with prostitutes or his admitted involvement with the D.C. Madam. It seems a little hard to believe, but I trust my sources on this.
If Mr. Vitter’s opposition wants to inform voters of his affairs with prostitutes, then they need to keep it simple:
– David Vitter can talk around the issue all he wants. He can call it a “serious sin.” He can speak in vague generalizations. He can obliquely deny those “other” allegations, without ever naming them. The truth is: David Vitter’s personal telephone number was found, multiple times, on the phone records of the Washington, D.C. Madam, the late Deborah Jean Palfrey. Shortly after this was revealed, David Vitter stepped before the international media and admitted to a “serious sin.” No need to talk about conspiracy theories or dramatization, just the basic facts.
– Ordinarily, Mr. Vitter would have been asked to step aside and resign from office. But as I’ve written about in the past and as Stephanie Grace artfully pointed out two weeks ago at Rising Tide 5, Mr. Vitter was extraordinarily lucky; when the scandal broke, Democrat Kathleen Blanco was Governor. If he had resigned, then she would have likely appointed a Democrat to the seat, which, somehow, would have been worse than a Republican Senator resigning because of his involvement in a prostitution ring.
– His scandal makes it much more difficult for him to actually pass meaningful legislation. Sure, he can continue to obstruct. He can continue to offer ineffectual, divisive, and partisan amendments in an attempt to force other officials to vote about wedge issues. He can continue to function as an ideologue, instead of a representative. And if that is what Louisiana believes a U.S. Senator should be doing with the majority of his time, then we’ve got a much bigger problem than David Vitter.
– This is a serious election with serious candidates. It’s not a joke. It’s not funny.
It brings me back to this: In April of this year, I posted something about a guy named Mike Spears. Mr. Spears had announced he was going to run for U.S. Senate against David Vitter. He was a self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate and because he was also a Gulf War veteran and former Acadiana Entrepreneur of the Year, I thought the guy may have had a chance to, at the very least, make things more challenging for Vitter.
But since Mr. Spears would rather gain publicity than credibility, he’s decided to challenge Mr. Vitter to a Mixed Martial Arts cage match, and he’s stupidly serious.
Spears issued the challenge at a press conference to announce USA-MMAS “Return of the Champions” on Oct. 16 at the Cajundome.
Citing the 2007 scandal in which Vitter was linked to a Washington D.C. prostitution ring, Spears billed the bout as a modern day duel.
“Sen. Vitter’s behavior – his admission to breaking the law in 2007 – has insulted the honor of Louisiana and the Louisiana Senate seat,” Spears said.
“I’m in this race, and this fight, to restore the honor of Louisiana and of the nation as well.”
First, we had a porn star fighting to restore our honor, and now, we have a Tea Partying MMA enthusiast.
We’re not holding an election; this is all just impromptu theater.
While the national media wonders aloud how on earth Louisianans could still want to re-elect David Vitter, we’re more focused on making the election a spectacle.
Don’t get me wrong: Even though the odds are stacked against him right now, I have no doubt that Congressman Charlie Melancon can defeat David Vitter, and thankfully, he and his campaign haven’t attempted to satirize or hyperbolize Mr. Vitter’s scandal with prostitutes like others have. They don’t need to. They can win simply by telling the unvarnished truth.