Tidmore: The Tragic Situation that Surrounds David Vitter
People have asked me repeatedly over the last few days if I was happy that the double life of Senator Vitter's has been exposed. The answer is no. The damage done to Louisiana's reputation nationally cannot be calculated.
My response would probably surprise some as it was my articles in The Louisiana Weekly that first alleged that Vitter had had an extramarital relationship with a known prostitute named Wendy Cortez while a member of the State Legislature.
There is a sense of vindication, of course, but how can I be happy watching Louisiana's fragile reputation dragged through the mud once more? There is little doubt that the damage done from the pattern of lies spun by Senator Vitter has seriously endangered the recovery of Louisiana.
What are members of Congress, whose goodwill and continued financial support we desperately need, to conclude? The state that produced Bill Jefferson has now brought forth David Vitter.
The probable bribes taken by Congressman Jefferson matched with the likely lawbreaking of Vitter's sends the message that we are a state of hypocrites, tolerating any lies.
Senator Vitter framed those who told the tale of his indiscretions as liars who were politically motivated to destroy him. (Louisiana Weekly, 2004) Interestingly, I share David Vitter ideological viewpoints generally. I'm a Republican who argues much the same conservative message as the Senator.
Nor I am a member of a GOP faction bent upon the Senator's destruction. In fact, it is as a Republican that I worry that David Vitter's continued presence in the public spotlight may do irreparably harm not only to his family, but to the entire Louisiana Republican Party.
In 48 hours, the revelations that Senator Vitter has for the better part of decade lied about committing what is in most states, including Louisiana, a criminal act, threatens to harm the candidacies of many Republicans.
These are GOP legislative candidates who looked sure to crest into office on a reform platform in November--as recently as Monday afternoon.
Now the public is poised to paint the entire Louisiana Republican Party with the same brush as Mr. Vitter. The Senator's pattern of lies are building the same cynicism about the GOP as the public now holds towards Governor Blanco and her Democratic Allies.
I wrote the original series of articles on the Vitter/Cortez affair because I believed pursuit of the truth was more important than protecting policy allies. When conflict comes between the two, a journalist, himself a public servant, must be independent and serve the public good.
How to serve the public good is the question that David Vitter, and for that matter Kathleen Blanco, each must ask himself--or herself--over the next few days. Does the Senator's remaining in office harm the people of Louisiana? Will Congress, frustrated with another scandal in the Pelican State turn the faucet of recovery money off, thanks to David Vitter?
If the Senator concludes remaining in office will do just that, then will the Governor honor the people's will and appoint a Republican in Vitter's place?
In the end, I regret that the pain this entire situation must have brought to the Senator's family, and extend my prayers to them in this difficult time.
Christopher Tidmore has taken a leave of absence from his roles as senior reporter for 99.5 FM and The Louisiana Weekly to run for the open District 82 Louisiana House legislative seat vacated by the term limited Steve Scalise.
July 11, 2007 6:43 PM