U.S. Senator and Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Vitter hasn’t had the best month. His poll numbers are sagging. His bid to replace Gov. Bobby Jindal, once thought inevitable, now appears flailing, despite the fact that Vitter has raised exponentially more money than any of his challengers, combined. And his 2007 prostitution scandal has suddenly reemerged as a topic of interest, concern, and renewed speculation.
If he is to be successful in his campaign for the Governor’s Mansion, David Vitter understands he must first convince a majority of women in Louisiana he is fit to be their leader, that he has sufficiently atoned for his “serious sin,” and that he is who he says he is. This isn’t easy, though.
Yes, Vitter’s wife Wendy forgave him, despite the fact that she once said, “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he (David) does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.” Voters, however, may have not received an adequate explanation for the allegations that, for years, David Vitter was involved in an enormous and internationally-newsworthy criminal conspiracy, that he, on multiple occasions, solicited prostitutes in between roll call votes on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, or that he was linked to several prostitutes in New Orleans. Of course, Vitter would prefer the people of Louisiana, once and for all, put all of this behind them, just as his wife has apparently done. But the prostitution scandal, his “serious sin,” is only a part of the story.
His most trusted aide, Brent Furer (who has allegedly changed his last name), was accused of stabbing and beating his girlfriend. Vitter put him in charge of “women’s issues” in his Senate office. In 1993, Vitter was accused and later found guilty of assaulting a woman- a political opponent- after she claimed he voted in support of gay rights.
All of this is problematic, and none of it has ever been explained.
Understandably, gubernatorial candidate David Vitter needs to demonstrate his respect and compassion toward women. He knows that, and his campaign knows that.
And that’s why, five days ago, he began airing this television commercial, titled “Miracle.”
It’s a heart-warming story of a woman, Deborah Boyd Cazalot, in desperate need of an organ transplant and how her life was saved after David Vitter single-handedly put her name on the transplant list. This is supremely ironic, likely untrue, and maddeningly hypocritical, particularly considering it’s a commercial on behalf of a man who has threatened to shut down the government if Congress didn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act and who is now contemplating a proposal to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood.
Make no mistake: Sen. Vitter doesn’t seriously care about health insurance reform or providing health care for women in need. If, somehow, Ms. Cazalot was able to use Sen. Vitter to muscle herself onto an organ transplantation list, it is not because David Vitter is passionate about ensuring affordable and equitable health care for uninsured and underinsured women, which is what his commercial would have us believe.
More than likely, it’s because Ms. Cazalot was fortunate enough to have a very memorable surname. The Cazalot family isn’t extensive, but they are well-known in Louisiana. Clarence Cazalot, Jr., a man who was born and raised in New Orleans and went to school at LSU, became incredibly wealthy as the CEO of Marathon Oil. I’m not sure how or even if Clarence Cazalot, who also happens to be on the board of the LSU Foundation, is related to Deborah Boyd Cazalot. But I know that last name has cachet in Texas and Louisiana Republican circles, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that someone named Cazalot could call up a U.S. Senator named Vitter and get an enormous favor.
Right now, David Vitter needs all the help he can get, particularly with women. And even if Ms. Cazalot benefitted from her adopted family name, it’s still a good story. Right? Her life was saved because Sen. Vitter intervened on her behalf.
There’s just one other problem. David Vitter ran the same exact commercial in 2010.
Ms. Cazalot, by the way, recently donated to the Vitter campaign; she gave $10 and her address, a new $250,000 home outside of Baton Rouge.
This really isn’t about Ms. Cazalot or the Cazalot family or even health insurance reform. This particular commercial is stale; it’s old; it’s recycled, and it’s probably not even true.
But it’s still the only story David Vitter wants to tell. He’s running away from his past while campaigning with five-year-old commercials.
The problem is: He can’t find another woman in Louisiana to vouch for him.