THE BLOG
09/17/2013 11:57 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2013

David Vitter Has Already Paid for His Crimes -- Literally

It's been more than six years since Senator David Vitter (R-LA) admitted that he had engaged, regularly, in the crime of soliciting prostitutes.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter said in 2007.

Though he received no jail time and was ostensibly forgiven by his wife and then the voters of Louisiana, he hasn't -- as far as we know -- committed the "sin" since.

Prostitution -- unlike Vitter's legislative record -- is often called a "victimless crime," because we like to imagine the horrors and abuses sex workers endure don't really matter because these workers aren't typically rich white senators. But it's an actual crime that often funds other crimes, and it's helpful for society that this wayward husband has, seemingly, been successfully averted from it.

So good for David Vitter. He's proof that mistakes made in our youth -- he was only in his mid-40s! -- shouldn't have to haunt us for the rest of our adult lives.

Regrettably, however, I have to call out Senate Democrats for what is clearly a bit of a low blow.

And by a "low blow," I don't mean something the old Vitter might dress in a diaper and pay extra for.

Politico's Manu Raju and John Bresnahan explain:

Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has infuriated Democrats this week by commandeering the Senate floor, demanding a vote on his amendment repealing federal contributions to help pay for lawmakers' health care coverage.

But Democratic senators are preparing a legislative response targeting a sordid Vitter episode. If Vitter continues to insist on a vote on his proposal, Democrats could counter with one of their own: Lawmakers will be denied those government contributions if there is "probable cause" they solicited prostitutes.

LOL. Okay, I shouldn't LOL at that.

It's cheap. It's nasty. It's a tactic so virulent that it's something I'd expect from a really vile lout -- like, say, David Vitter.

In May, the senator proposed banning certain convicts from receiving SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, for life. Because there's nothing that makes America safer than a bunch of starved ex-criminals roaming the streets.

But that doesn't excuse Democrats from anonymously seeking vengeance against Vitter just because he's trying to use legislative sabotage to try to stop tens of millions of Americans from getting health care, or at least slow the process.

There's a real risk in this sort of taunting because we can see from the senator's reaction that he's not a well man.

After the story came out, Vitter decided that one day of horrible headlines wasn't enough -- he wants to make this story go on and on.

The senator has called for an ethics investigation of fellow senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and their staffs, characterizing the effort to shame him out of his Obamacare sabotage as "attempted bribery."

Now I'm worried.

Vitter is frankly behaving like a man who is on the edge and enraged at the thought of being reminded that he has solicited prostitutes. Again, I don't think we need to speculate on the senator's private life to assume that certain personal issues that may have driven this man to crime are at risk of being agitated again.

Our goal should be to help Vitter remain in society's good graces and remind him that his urges -- whether they be to role-play repressed sexual fantasies or to specifically punish the lawmakers who support fixing a broken health care system by gutting their insurance coverage -- don't always need to be acted upon.

Democrats who seek to use Vitter's personal failings are falling into the conservative trap of imprisoning the most vulnerable people in society and then continuing to punish these former convicts for the duration of their lives by depriving them of opportunities to rejoin society -- or even participate in democracy -- by taking away their right to vote.

Vitter is especially guilty of this in his effort to take food stamps from ex-criminals.

And you don't have to be a psychotherapist to suggest that his need to punish others suggests that he has not forgiven himself for what he's done to his own and his family's lives, even though he basically got away with it.

This kind of internal conflict can lead to bad habits that should not be encouraged, no matter how delightful it would be to see a man who has voted to ban same-sex marriage and the right of gay couples to adopt be again publicly humiliated for his lack of family values.

I'm worried about David Vitter, no matter how much he doesn't worry about me. So, Senate Democrats, give him a break. Don't let this thing linger on and on, reminding everyone that Vitter is a hypocrite and how the powerful in society flourish regardless of their "sins," while the powerless suffer for them.

Senator Vitter has already paid for his crimes -- literally.

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