July 11, 2007

The irresistible Senator Vitter

I confess that part of my fascination with Senator Vitter's story is connected to my own psycho-inculcation with prohibitory religious indoctrination, a condition for which one is likely in lifelong recovery. It can't be all bad; 'tis said by some that the Victorians were the sexiest people of all because virtually anything, the glimpse of a bare ankle, could be orgiastic. Nevertheless, today's follow-on news about the junior senator from Louisiana reports that in 1998, while he was still a state representative, Vitter wrote an op-ed piece in the Times-Picayune in which he proclaimed President Bill Clinton "morally unfit to govern" because of his sexual escapades with Monica Lewinsky.

Probably the very best apothegm of all time, the pithiest, the most telling, the most incisive, came from the droll mind of Oscar Wilde: "Hypocrisy is the tribute which vice pays to virtue." No doubt Senator Vitter honors and reveres virtue in the abstract, and when he has engaged in vice (apparently the D.C. Madam was not his first procurer, according to some reports now coming out of the Big Easy), his public hypocrisy, including most of his work in the United States Senate, indicates that he knew better. The word "vice," however, brings up a delicate problem. Isn't Senator David Vitter now an admitted john? I believe that's a crime, which is an interesting distinction between Bill Clinton and David Vitter, insofar as sexual activity is concerned. Whatever Monica was doing under the desk in the Oval Office (and a lot of it sounds like huge fun for Bill), I don't think it was illegal. They were consenting adults doing legal, if sometimes nasty, things.

Well, some guys have all the luck. Bill Clinton didn't have to pay for it, and Senator Vitter, trying to keep it all quiet and impersonal so as to preserve his sterling image as a church-going family man, in a desperate and sweaty effort to get what he craved without being obvious about it -- well, he did. Does it mean he's morally unfit to govern? Not in my book. It just means he's a sanctimonious asshole.

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