Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Woes For David Vitter


Vitter's pair of Wendies-- the deranged-looking one is the official wife

If I had to bet which Republican incumbent senator is mostly likely to be (officially) working on K Street next year instead of Capitol Hill, I'd still bet on Richard Burr, the hapless, confused and unloved North Carolina extremist. That said, David Vitter's race to re-election got considerably more difficult last week. Friday was the filing deadline for Louisiana's bizarre primary system-- and it could have hardly have turned out worse for Vitter. I'll get into that in a second; first a little background.

What's keeps Vitter from being just another garden-variety hypocritical corporate shill disguised as a conservative in one of the most conservative states in America (Louisiana managed to give only 40% of its vote to Obama in 2008, less than Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi or Tennessee) is that he has a long, sordid history as a sex addict. He's been caught again and again with prostitutes, including one incident where his personal peccadillos-- a penchant for wearing diapers, soiling himself and being spanked-- was exposed and for which he went on TV and begged forgiveness, after his wife, Wendy (same name as one of his most notorious prostitutes) threatened to do a Lorena Bobbit on him.

For a while it looked like porn star Stormy Daniels would challenge him in the Republican primary, but her trial balloon never took off, and until last week it looked like Vitter would have no serious obstacle to re-election, his Democratic opponent being just a mangy old Blue Dog who no self-respecting Democrat could must much enthusiasm for. (Charlie Melancon has one of the worst voting records of any Democrat in Congress, consistently siding with big corporate interests against working families, just like David Vitter always does. I mean, what kind of a debate would they have? Arguing about who's more opposed to healthcare reform, who's more opposed to Choice, who's more anti-gay, whose record is more destructive to the environment, who's a worse shill for Big Oil? (To be fair, Vitter is actually worse than Melancon on everything, Melancon being just Republican-lite while Vitter is a party-line hack. Nonetheless, the Democrats would have been better off finding someone whose case for election is a little stronger than "I'm not as bad as Vitter.")

So, until last week, his pockets bulging with corporate cash, it didn't look like Vitter would have much of a problem. He's still screeching for more drilling and still trying to protect BP after what it has done to the families along the Gulf Coast. He voted against extending unemployment benefits even to workers who have been put out of work because of BP; Republicans call these people lazy drug addicts.

And then a ton of bricks got dropped on Vitter's head. On Friday, just minutes before filing closed, he suffered two devastating blows: One of America's, let alone Louisiana's, most far right legislators, Rep. Ernest Wooton, switched his party affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated and jumped into the race as an independent; and at the last second a respected and very well-known Supreme Court judge, Chet Traylor, another far right extremist, got into the Republican primary. Hard-core Republicans-- especially the churchy folks in the northern part of the state who are still unhappy about Vitter's randy nature-- now have someone else to vote for, one in August and one in November.
Chet Traylor, from Monroe, was the last candidate to register for a congressional election, and his entrance can change the tenor of the race. Traylor retired last year from the state's high court after more than 12 years as a justice, and he carries name recognition and political ties in northeast and north-central Louisiana.

Traylor said he was encouraged to run by Republicans who are dissatisfied with Vitter, who was named as a client in a 2007 prostitution scandal.

"So many people want a different choice than what we've got right now," Traylor said.

Sixteen challengers qualified in the Senate race, hoping to keep Vitter from a second term, mainly lesser-known candidates and many without party affiliation.

Even if he can't beat Vitter in the Aug. 28 GOP primary, Traylor can force Vitter to dip into his multimillion-dollar campaign fund well before the Nov. 2 general election. That would drain cash from Vitter's campaign and take away dollars the incumbent senator had hoped to spend fighting his main Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon.

So who are these two, you're wondering. Are they better than Vitter? Alas, as hard as it may be to imagine, they're probably worse! Wooton, a former sheriff, has made a name for himself in the state legislature as a sociopath and dangerous gun nut. Last year he introduced a bill to allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, a bill that even Louisiana couldn't countenance. Despite Wooton "softening" the bill to prohibit guns at sporting events, it was defeated 86-18. This year he was one of the primary supporters of a bill to allow concealed guns in churches. It passed in the state House and failed in the Senate. Wooton was widely quoted in Louisiana media as having said: "I want to see in the Bible where it says you can't bring a gun to church." Alas no one asked him for a photo of a caveman cowboy dismounting from his dinosaur to go worship Jesus, matchlock musket in hand.

Some people would claim Traylor is not as nuts as either Wooton or Vitter. But not all people. Traylor may be a respected judge in northern Louisiana, but in most of America he'd be looked at as a hopelessly reactionary crackpot, who wrote the 5-2 decision of the court in 2000 that upheld the state's sodomy law, reversing a ruling by the state's court of appeals.
• Traylor's opinion says that "any claim that private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable [sic]," citing Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), which rejected a federal privacy challenge to Georgia's sodomy law. Traylor also contended that if particular conduct was truly consensual, it would be "impractical to enforce the statute against the participants," since they would have both participated in illegal acts and "there would be no victim to file charges and institute a prosecution."

• Louisiana’s sodomy law, also known as the “crime against nature” law, has been a part of the state’s jurisprudence for 195 years. The court ruled that the privacy clause in the state constitution does not protect what it called "immoral acts." “Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society,” Justice Chet Traylor wrote for the majority.

I guess with a circus like this, even a revolting Blue Dog like Melancon can look like the least of all evils.

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At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Really a shame that Stormy Daniels couldn't find a way to run, I don't believe she ever declared a party affiliation.


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