I originally intended to talk about the Tea Parties destroying conservatism, which I think is self-evident but needs to be brought up a considerable amount more.
But Senator David Vitter from Lousiana is really something independent of his despicable “Birther” comments. The comments in question:
Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana says he supports conservative organizations challenging President Barack Obama’s citizenship in court.
Vitter, who is running for re-election, made the comments at a town hall-style event in Metairie, La., on Sunday when a constituent asked what he would do about what the questioner said was Obama’s “refusal to produce a valid birth certificate.”
Such claims about Obama’s birth certificate have been discredited. But with the crowd applauding the question, Vitter responded that although he doesn’t personally have legal standing to bring litigation, he supports “conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court,” according to a video of the event.
“I think that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it,” Vitter said, although he later cautioned that the matter could distract from policy issues.
Of course, my first temptation was to point out things like “the crowd applauding” and focus on the mob hysteria that must have been at this event. The worst example I remember seeing was Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) being pretty much shouted down for saying the President was a citizen, with the crowd ending their tirade with the Pledge of Allegiance. I wanted to ask the question of whether we need leaders who can stand up to crowds, and how we could possibly produce such people.
But Sen. David Vitter wouldn’t be someone who stood up to crowds no matter what. He’s fairly corrupt to begin with:
Despite Vitter’s prostitution scandal in 2007, the freshman senator has seemed set for reelection…. In the past few weeks, however, Vitter has battled a media hailstorm about a staffer arrested two years ago for holding his girlfriend at knife point. Vitter had claimed that the staffer, Brent Furer, had been disciplined, but the issue resurfaced when rumors circulated that Furer has been assigned to women’s issues within Vitter’s office. Vitter fired Furer and denied that the aide had worked on women’s issues, though he did admit that Furer’s portfolio included abortion.
It could be the case that the Birther remarks were made because Vitter might not survive the primary. A well-connected Republican that doesn’t have a prostitution scandal swirling around him or staffers that hold people at knifepoint has entered the race.
Still, I do want to take one more shot at the Tea Parties, which are not being attacked nearly enough by the Right: here’s a case where the incumbent clearly had no business serving in Congress in the first place. Yes, he’s reliably conservative in voting and brings in money to the state, but it isn’t possible to get anyone else who can do that? If there was ever a need for a reform movement directed at replacing incumbents with responsible people – well, this should have been near top priority. Instead there’s a general “unease” with Washington used to justify all sorts of crackpot theories, and note that Vitter isn’t done yet. What if he wins the primary because of low turnout and a small but motivated group of conspiracy theorists he’s pandered to show up? I’ll focus on the damage being done to conservatism and education later. But I do know something has to be said about the very practical problems we face, and our inability to identify those issues in the first place.