The Political Obituary Of David Vitter

Screenshot from a GumboPac ad.

I don’t usually take politics personally. I did as a young political junkie but it was too painful when my candidate lost. I’ve always made an exception for David Vitter. This FB status I posted yesterday sums it up:

David Vitter has been media shy since 2007. I cannot imagine why. Before that he was a local media whore. He was on the New Orleans stations so often as a State Rep and a Congressman that I called him Live Shot. It was when my hatred for him grew like poison ivy. He was a sanctimonious dweeb who went on and on about “conservative reform” and how he planned to clean up the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He was strident and annoying albeit in dorky way. Very little has changed in that regard. Vitter never owed his political success to his oratorical prowess.

Vitter is the sort of politician who went hunting for witches and burned them whenever possible. It’s the root of his epic dispute with Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and his predecessor and mentor Harry Lee. I’ll let Stephanie Grace clue you in:

Vitter was first elected to the state House in 1991, the same year ethically compromised Edwin Edwards returned to the Governor’s Mansion for a fourth term. The young, ambitious legislator from Metairie wasted no time positioning himself as a prominent adversary to the governor, largely on issues surrounding the state’s fledgling gambling industry and other ethical matters.

Vitter also aimed his ammunition closer to home, including at the parish’s then-sheriff, the late, larger-than-life Harry Lee. Lee was a member of Edwards’ circle, a supporter of gambling and a man who saw no conflict in his job as chief law enforcement officer and, say, his personal friendship with a convicted felon. Lee viewed Vitter as little more than a self-righteous grandstander. He and Vitter clashed repeatedly and wound up in court several times, and it was Vitter who inspired one of Lee’s most memorable quips.

“My job is to catch crooks,” Lee said, and “my hobby is to expose hypocrites.”


It wasn’t just Vitter’s habit of targeting fellow politicians, his push for term limits and sunshine on their cozy Tulane scholarship insider deals, and his habit of filing ethics complaints that made him an outcast, his enemies would say. It also was his personality, his adversarial attitude, his willingness to do anything to grab a headline or simply to win. When Vitter ran for Congress in 1999, most of his colleagues opposed his bid…

That’s Bitter Vitter in a wingnut shell. A hypocrite who specialized in burning bridges all the while lecturing his colleagues about how pure and noble he was. I’ll give him credit for his willingness to take on someone like Harry Lee who was the most popular figure in Jefferson Parish for most of time as Sheriff. It’s fitting that taking on the current Sheriff was part of his undoing. Here’s a 2007 picture of Lee and Normand:

STAFF PHOTO BY RUSTY COSTANZA Sheriff Harry Lee announced today, Thursday, August 16, 2007, that his cancer has returned.He maintained his usual sense of humor and also announced that will run for re-election. Chief Deputy Newell Normand, second in command at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, is on the right.
TP staff photograph by Rusty Costanza.

If there’s an afterlife, I’m sure that Harry danced a Chinese Cowboy jig on Diaper Dave’s grave. I hear that Sheriff Normand had a helluva time at the Edwards victory party. Hope he had one for Harry.

One of the main reasons Vitter got skunked in the runoff is the way he treated his fellow Republicans. He was as arrogant and patronizing to them as he was to everyone else. The attack ads he ran in the primary against fellow GOPers Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne alienated scores of Gret Stet Republicans. It was too much for many of them to swallow. Vitter violated the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. It’s an appropriate image since Vitter dug his own political grave by running the wrong campaign at the wrong time. 

In addition to Vitter’s political death, there’s something else to celebrate. His anti-Syrian refugee scare tactics did not work. Edwards’ lead held up under the assault even though he was not exactly a profile of courage on the issue. The most important thing was to defeat Vitter.

David Vitter is the only politician I’ve ever compared to Richard Nixon as a human being. Nixonian lies and dirty tricks are staples in the political pantry of the current Republican party. It’s Tricky Dick’s party, not Ronnie’s. It’s more personal than that: like Nixon, Vitter is a loner who seems consumed with resentment over his treatment by the media and political establishment. Like Nixon, Vitter’s life seems to be an ongoing pity party. And like Nixon, Vitter is a paranoid motherfucker. They both had a vice that contributed to their undoing, for Tricky it was booze. We know what it was for Diaper Dave:

BOOM ad.
The BOOM ad screenshot via CenLamar

The whole spygate saga opened a window into Bitter Vitter’s style and personality. He is a vengeful and vindictive person, which is why it’s such a relief that he won’t control the State Police. We’ll never know if Vitter would have tried to use the LSP as a political tool but I, for one, am glad that it’s not even a possibility.

While we’re walking the scandal beat, I’d like to give Jason Brad Berry and Lamar White props for their role in Diaper Dave’s downfall. Jason kept pursuing the hooker story and Lamar used it as cudgel against Vitter. Well played, y’all.

I take great personal satisfaction in writing Vitter’s political obituary, but I know that his NOT running for re-election will make it easier for the GOP to hold his seat in 2016. I think it would have gone to a Goper in any event. Once again, the priority was taking out Bitter Vitter. When he lost Jefferson Parish to a Democrat, his political career was over. I must admit that I’ll miss having David Vitter to kick around but I am relieved that he will not be my Governor.

Deep Blog and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about Vitter’s political demise so I’ll give him the last word:

I think his legacy is two-fold: First, he did more than any other individual to make Louisiana a solidly Republican state through party building at the grass roots level, precise messaging, very successful fundraising and unrelenting criticism of the opposing party.

Second, he proved that fear, anger and intimidation are still powerful political weapons, especially in the hands of someone without a conscience, but the oldest rule in politics is still “What goes around comes around,” and if you spend an entire career fucking over people you’re supposed to work WITH, sooner or later you’re going to be hoist on your own pee-tard–probably in a very ugly and public manner

3 thoughts on “The Political Obituary Of David Vitter

  1. You and Deep Blog both make good points. Have enjoyed reading your wrap ups/analysis, made all the better by Diaper Dave’s crash and burn.

    I don’t recall Vitter ever having to play defense prior to this race, but throughout the runoff, he was having to explain, thus proving the saying ‘if you’re explaining you’re losing.’ And whether it was the public revulsion pushing the media to focus on Vitter, or the media finally deciding to do so on their own…it’d be difficult for almost anyone to weather that kind of scrutiny, much less someone with his…baggage? Dirty laundry?

    Well, whatever the case, it made my otherwise really awful last few weeks a little less awful.

    1. Vitter sealed his fate when he went after Dardenne and Angelle. It was like taking a shit in the living room.

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