by Todd Beeton, Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 02:51:54 PM EDT
Is anyone else struck by how little resignation talk there's been surrounding David Vitter? On a purely political level, can you imagine if the situation were reversed and it was a sitting Democratic senator who'd been found to have repeatedly sought the services of prostitutes while in public office (albeit prior to his current term as senator?) Can you imagine the outcry from Republicans if the resignation of a Democratic senator meant that with one swift act the Republican governor could add to their slim majority in the senate giving him or her a presumed leg up in the special election that would follow? It's clear -- they'd be all over it. Yet here we are in just that situation and there's silence.
Now, I'm not advocating lowering ourselves to their level but, ummm, is there not an opportunity here? To potentially build on our currently non-existent majority in the senate prior to next year's elections and to begin to rebuild faith in the Democratic Party in Louisiana where, as Chris Cilizza reminds us, the party's fortunes have been in steep decline and consequently there's not exactly a deep bench. Instead, it appears the only ones considering calling for Vitter's resignation are Louisiana Republicans whose one condition is that they want an agreement from Gov. Blanco that she'll replace him with a Republican.
I suspect Democrats feel keeping Vitter in the senate has a bigger upside than likely losing a special election and replacing him with a 'clean' Republican: he's a constant reminder of the hypocrisy and corruption of the Republican Party. And to the extent that he represents the very aspect of the party that led to disillusionment among the party's base and hence the party's defeat last November, he's useful. He's their freakin poster boy. Still, I'm not a big fan of the idea that as long as he sought and has apparently found forgiveness from his wife and god, it's all good. The religious right condemns the left for moral degradation but when it's one of their own, all they require is repentance and forgiveness is granted. Sorry, it shouldn't be that easy. Not to mention the presumed legal ramifications of Vitter's actions, which seem to have been largely ignored. As Chris Kelly writes at the Huffington Post:
But isn't soliciting prostitution also a crime? Vitter's wife should know; she used to be a prosecutor.
Shouldn't someone be looking into the "crime" part, and whether there's something in the Constitution about removing people from office if they commit high crimes and misdemeanors, whether their wife forgives them or not?
Clearly the story isn't over. Next week will prove a new challenge for Vitter as the media covers his return to Washington after a self-imposed exile, so there will be plenty of time for exploitation of Vitter's moral and legal shortcomings by both sides of the aisle. Or maybe Vitter will get his wish and this scandal will go away. If Sen. Jim DeMint is right, there are any number of senators who could have some juicy revelations about their private lives come to light.
"I think all of us have to look at it and say, `We can be next. ... This can be a very lonely and isolating place.' I'm fairly surprised at how little it does happen."Update [2007-7-13 20:1:38 by Todd Beeton]:The Times Picauyne hoists Vitter on his own petard:
The only question left is when: When will Sen. David Vitter leave office? He has no choice but to do so.
This is not my judgment. This is the judgment of Vitter himself.
For, as Vitter wrote with regard to Clinton's immoral behavior, ". . . some meaningful action must be taken against the president. If none is, his leadership will only further drain any sense of values left to our political culture."