The D.C. Madam's phone records have been released and -- surprise, surprise! -- participants in the prostitution ring include conservative Beltway policymakers.
What is it about religious conservatives that makes them want to bang whores so bad?
Louisiana senator David Vitter is a shining beacon of fundamentalist morality; he encourages military recruitment in high schools and hates same-sex unions enough to co-author a Federal Marriage Amendment prohibiting them (it failed). If you doubt his commitment to traditional marriage, he'll happily trot out the wife and kids. He's in love with love, you dig? Well, that and the whoring.
Vitter is the second politician to confess to the services of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the infamous "D.C. Madam" charged with running a prostitution ring for Beltway elites. (The other is former deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias, the disgraced AIDS czar who used federal funds to promote abstinence over condoms as a means of combating HIV.) "This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible,'' Vitter said in a statement Monday. "Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there—with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.''
Isn't it great how the respect factor kicks in after the affair is revealed and not before it's consummated?
While we're left hanging on what sin was committed (did he steal a hubcap or worship an idol?), the question remains: Why are the politicians who legislate morality inevitably the biggest sleazes? Vitter compared the prospect of a gay couple tying the knot to the level of devastation heaped on the United States by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Tobias denied funding to organizations trying to help prostitutes get their lives together while frequenting an escort service. Jodi Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Health and Gender Equity, put it mildly when she said she found the situation "somewhat ironic."
Vitter and his ilk are just part of a long chain of liars who pimp themselves as moralists for the conservative vote. Does that base feel burned yet by these charlatans and hypocrites? Seems like a man of principle is hard to find these days, and even harder to elect. When people like Vitter aren't taking obscene campaign contributions, committing adultery, drinking to excess, or a host of other failings, they're badgering you on the one or two vices you might have. Doesn't that sting? Can't you find some real, honest-to-God genuine nutball capable of keeping his pants zipped around a call girl?
No one should be surprised by Vitter's revelation; sex scandals on Capitol Hill are about as shocking as the sun rising in the east. And, frankly, it's a little hard to trump the first Bush White House, which was accused of running a child prostitution ring of its own. Maybe he does really hate gays, who knows? More power to him. But when the kink in the armor is revealed, any platform built to enforce morality vaporizes.
It's rumored Vitter's dalliances go back further, to another whore he frequented during his gubernatorial bid in 2002. (Maybe that's the sin he spoke of yesterday!) In any case, his association with Palfrey's business, Pamela Martin & Associates, took place in 2004, giving ultraconservatives a solid three years of hypocritical representation. There's solace in that, even if none can be found in his abysmal voting record. After all, he's:
voted against relief for hurricane-affected regions;
voted no on $100 million earmarked to reduce teen pregnancy through contraception and education;
recommended Constitutional amendments banning flag desecration... twice;
favored amendments banning same-sex marriages... twice; and
stood tall against the crime of letting a gay couple adopt a child.
To Vitter's inevitable replacement, I offer this advice: keep it in your pants. If you want to play God with the people of this nation through draconian policy, dull the pain with something legal, like bumfights or alcohol. We celebrate Ted Kennedy's foppish drunkenness on an almost daily basis, if you'll recall. Just be consistent. No one can take your stance against drugs seriously if you're lit up like the Northern sky, and it's awfully hard to tell a group of homosexuals to accept subhuman status for their sexuality while you're getting "massaged" by some of Central America's finest.
It's called integrity, and if you can't manage to keep your personal and public convictions in tandem, maybe you're in the wrong line of work.
Oh, wait—you're a politician.
Canon Fodder is a bi-weekly analysis of politics and society.