Perhaps it is time to say something about U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA). It seems that not only was he a client of the so-called D.C. Madam but that he frequented a brothel in Louisiana. We are not certain of the latter because Senator Vitter has been unavailable since he admitted that he had committed a grave sin.
Senator Vitter is a brilliant fellow. In 2004, a good year for conservatives at the ballot box, Vitter won the Senate seat which had been held for three terms by Senator John B. Breaux (D-LA). Ironically, Vitter was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives when longtime Congressman Robert L. (Bob) Livingston (R-LA) resigned instead of becoming Speaker of the House. Livingston had challenged former Speaker Newt Gingrich and claimed he had enough votes to win the position. When it was disclosed that Livingston had cheated on his wife of many years, he resigned. It seems that Vitter's unfaithfulness occurred before he became a senator.
Former Secretary of State Edwin W. Edwards currently is serving time in federal prison after having bragged that he was a crook. As I write this Commentary, Representative William J. Jefferson (D-LA) is facing multiple charges of corruption. He claims that he can answer all charges, including those concerning the $90,000 found in his freezer by federal agents. Jefferson is innocent until proven guilty. He was able to win re-election by a comfortable margin after the charges were made against him. There is no indication that Jefferson's problems are in any way related to Vitter's. I merely cite him to illustrate that Louisiana seems to elect public officials who have problems.
Back to Senator Vitter. HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry Flynt has claimed responsibility for Vitter's confession. Flynt enjoys pointing out the immorality of Republicans and has been doing so for years. A dear friend of mine told me that she can tolerate Vitter, as he is a weak man and who among us has not done something we regret. But this friend went on to say that she doesn't want to live in a world where Larry Flynt is judge and jury, considering what he has done with his life.
That is exactly how I feel about the situation. Vitter has a weakness. We are all sinners. Scripture says, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Vitter claims that he has received God's forgiveness. We have a merciful God.
Vitter stated that has received his wife's forgiveness. I hope this statement is true because in an interview some years ago she declared herself closer to Lorena Bobbit than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Hillary, of course, has stayed with her husband even though he has had many affairs. Ms. Bobbit cut off her husband's private parts while he was asleep because she could no longer tolerate his affairs.
What should become of Vitter? That is up to the voters of Louisiana and not us. If he has their support to stay in office, he has another three years until re-election.
He should be looked upon as a public official. It seems to me that we don't want to keep in high office those who have become a public spectacle. Yes, he is entitled to forgiveness. But no, he is not entitled to one of the most important posts in government. That is why I admire what Livingston did. He could have been the Speaker. If he had asked for forgiveness, he could have been the number one official in the House. But he preferred his honor to political power. He gave up one of the most powerful posts, the third in line for the Presidency, because of his immorality.
If there are other public officials on the D.C. Madam's list, let them be treated the same way. If I lived in Louisiana I could certainly tell my grandchildren that Vitter did something wrong but God has forgiven him. Afterwards, I would hope to say that he was ashamed of his actions and left office. That is what is missing from public life these days - shame. Years ago if something similar had been disclosed, one would step out of the limelight. Now, no matter what is done, politicians want to tough it out.
Vitter's future is unclear. Surely he is a man of conscience and probably regrets his actions. Let us pray for the man. If he chooses to stay in office, all that can be said is that he has lots of company. If Vitter decides to follow Livingston's example, so much the better. Livingston has paid for his shame. Whatever Vitter decides he at least can know that God loves him. With that in mind, this very bright, well-educated Senator has much more to contribute. I just hope it is not as a United States Senator.