July 12, 2007

The Vitter Tears of James Taranto.

There are a couple updates on my post from Tuesday about Senator Vitter and prostitution. I respond to James Taranto's misreading of my post and then come back a second time when he accepts the correct reading but still tries to wriggle out of the steel trap of my moral logic. By the way, did you know an anagram for his name is Ramjet Sonata?


Unknown said...

The same James Taranto whose Wall Street Journal Editorial Page wrote that all gay people are child molestors.

Do we really care what he thinks?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

And there was another one today. Rep Bob Allen, who solicited a blowjob from a cop in public bathroom

Gotta love the hypocrisy.

Randy said...

Has Taranto acknowledged that his is not Vitters's first offense? Or does he think this was just a "one-off" kind of thing. Just wondering, because James might need a newsflash that, like DUI's, the number of times someone is caught-out is usually nowhere near the number of times someone has engaged in the activity.

I'm sure that Senator Vitters was careful to not repeat his performance within the borders of the state of Louisiana, however. I've been told that, while a first offense there is a misdemeanor, Senator Vitters faces felony charges if ever caught in the act again within his home state.

As I subscribe to Taranto's email newsletter, I'll have to go back and see if he mentions anything about Vitters's long history of telling people how to live their lives according to what Vitters believes is best. On second thought, we'd better drop the pretense of "believes" and insert "publicly pretends to believe."

I haven't had time the last few days to read the daily emails. I doubt he said anything. Taranto doesn't seem like the kind of guy that gets mired in details, relevant or not.

Randy said...

I see Allen's actually fighting it,too. He'll probably claim he was not wearing his glasses and was only trying to shake a constituent's hand.

Revenant said...

Has Taranto acknowledged that his is not Vitters's first offense?

The question of whether or not this is Vitters's first offense is completely irrelevant to Taranto's point. His example best describes what he's getting at here:

Larry Flynt does a better job in living up to his own moral standards than David Vitter does in living up to his. But that is because Flynt has no standards, not because he is some sort of exemplar.

It doesn't matter if Vitter slept with one hooker or with a thousand of them. Taranto's point is that Vitter advocates doing the right thing, even if he himself doesn't do the right thing -- and that to insist that Vitter legalize prostitution is to place a greater value on consistency than you do on morality. It is, in other words, better to advocate the right thing and do the wrong thing than it is to advocate the wrong thing and do the wrong thing; if Vitters supported legalizing prostitution that would *worsen* his moral position, not improve it, no matter how many times he cheated on his wife with hookers.

Ann is right that Taranto's missed her point, but both Ann and Taranto have made good points here -- if, like most people (but not me) you believe prostitution should be illegal because prostitution is morally wrong, then Ann is right in thinking Vitters should be prosecuted and Taranto is right in thinking that legalizing prostitution would be an even worse thing for Vitters to do.

Eli Blake said...

Doesn't anybody ever run background checks anymore?

Vitter of course was the southern regional director for the Giuliani campaign. And last month, Thomas Ravenel, Rudy's South Carolina campaign manager was busted for selling cocaine.

Then today we have a news story out that McCain's Florida campaign manager, State rep. Bob Allen, denies soliciting an undercover police officer for sex last night.

No surprise Allen is denying it though-- the McCain campaign doesn't have enough money to make bail.

Eli Blake said...

I wonder if Bill Clinton will now apply to be Hillary's campaign manager? If this is the new standard we are using, he's clearly very qualified.

Harkonnendog said...

Hypocrisy is overrated. Much better to be for honesty and lie than to be for dishonesty.

chickelit said...

These days, hypocrisy is damage virtue pays to vice.

Harkonnendog said...

I call Shenanigans on downtownlad... The WSJEP never wrote that, I bet.

Randy said...

Revenant, that's all undoubtedly true. And it is also true that, as a subscriber, I've been reading Taranto since he first appeared on-line, although (as I said) I haven't read his remarks about this incident or Ann's comments. While I usually enjoy Taranto's unique take on things, there are times when I find him excessively partisan. I thought it was obvious that I was intentionally going slightly off-topic in order to twit Taranto a bit. It wasn't my intention to address the question at hand. So few people do, I figured, "What the hell..."

In the end, however, I will disagree with you. As others have previously pointed out elsewhere on Althouse, Vitters has not just built a career advocating doing the right thing and personally doing the wrong thing, he's reveled in publicly damning (for his personal gain) those he personally finds unworthy. If we were talking about someone who was a bit less of a publicity-hound and publicly abusive over such matters, I'd be happy to cut him some slack. But he wasn't so I won't.

I'm sorry you misundertood my post to be addressing Ann's post specifically.

Anonymous said...

My two favorite opinionators in a battle royal cage match over something sex-related?

Can't both sides win?

Invisible Man said...

I think that downtownlad was referring to the editorial referenced in this post

So I call shenanigins on your shenanigins.

PeterP said...

...the steel trap of my moral logic

...I love filthy talk;-)

Revenant said...


I think you're still missing Taranto's point.

Taranto is NOT saying that Vitters did nothing wrong. He's not even saying that Vitters is a good person. What he is saying is that Vitters *advocates* doing (what Taranto considers to be) the right thing, and that this is superior to either remaining silent on the subject or advocating doing the "wrong" thing (e.g. supporting the legalization of prostitution).

Taranto acknowledges that Vitters doesn't actually *do* the right thing, but that's not relevant.

Vitters has not just built a career advocating doing the right thing and personally doing the wrong thing, he's reveled in publicly damning (for his personal gain) those he personally finds unworthy.

Your position appears to be that a person who advocates immoral behavior while behaving immorally is inferior to a person who behaves immorally and *doesn't* advocate moral behavior. I can't say that I agree.

I think you're confusing the messenger with the message. If prostitution is wrong, speaking *against* prostitution is a good act -- the number of hookers the speaker has personally slept with has no relevance. Nor could you fairly say that Vitters doesn't believe in the morality he claims to believe in. Bill Clinton claims to believe that cheating on his wife is wrong, but that didn't stop him doing it countless times. People often violate their own moral codes.

Revenant said...

I think that downtownlad was referring to the editorial referenced in this post. So I call shenanigins on your shenanigins.

But that article doesn't say "all gay people are child molestors". It doesn't say anything of the kind.

The reason Foley's homosexuality was relevant is that the young people he was "too friendly" with were *male*. If he'd been heterosexual nobody would have had reason to be suspicious of "too friendly" behavior with teenaged boys. Girls, yes; boys, no.

What the WSJ was getting at (and the reason it referenced political correctness) is that, today, the idea that a gay man might be attracted to what is basically "male jailbait". Point out that male homosexuals tend to be sexually attracted to boys in their late teens and the hypersensitive hysterics crawl out of the woodwork to denounce you as a homophobe. Despite the fact that hetero men are ALSO attracted to teenagers (half the hetero porn out there shoehorns a "teen" or "barely legal" into the title out there somewhere) we are told that observing that homosexuals feel the same urges as heterosexuals is somehow "resurrecting old stereotypes" about gay child molestation. The fact that DTL and other leftie morons clamored to label Foley's behavior as "child molestation" and "pedophilia" -- a nonsensical abuse of the English language -- didn't help matters, of course.

The position Republican leaders found themselves in was one in which they had no good options. Slap down a gay Congressman who hadn't actually done anything illegal (yet) and get bashed as homophobic troglodytes, or ignore the Congressman's behavior and risk having it blow up in their faces.

Boaz said...

Althouse is putting words in Vitter's mouth. He didn't say the matter was exclusively private. He just admitted he did wrong and apologized. If he said he should not suffer any consequence because soliciting prostitution is a private matter, or because he supports banning prostitution, or because he is a legislator, nobody would agree, that would be nuts. He didn't say any of those things though.

If a legislator breaks a law he supports, he isn't obligated to change the law.

Randy said...

Revenant, I really do understand Taranto's point. And as I said, there are many people who I'd happily cut some slack to because they don't live and breathe pretending to be morally superior beings.

At the same time, I understand the kind of person Senator Vitters is. He doesn't confine himself to saying prostitution is immoral. He has a laundry list of people and activities that he finds despicable, reprehensible, immoral, and he avails himself of almost every opportunity, particularly at election time, to let everyone know just how immoral, despicable and reprehensible those other folks, the enemies, are.

While I have never cheated on anyone or consorted with a prostitute, I don't run around making a public spectacle of myself damning those who do. I don't praise them to high heaven, either. I do believe that, if Vitters genuinely believed in the morality of his oft-repeated public statements he would not surreptitiously engage in the activity.

No, I don't find him inferior because he engages in immoral behavior while advocating moral behavior. I do find his definitions of morality twisted. I certainly do not find him superior to someone who engages in immoral behavior but says nothing in favor of moral behavior. There is absolutely no honor to be found in either. Tweedledee meet Tweedledum in my opinion.

Revenant, as Beth has pointed out elsewhere, Senator Vitters believes that I have no right to life, liberty, or employment, much less the pursuit of happiness.

Palladian said...

"Althouse is putting words in Vitter's mouth."

As long as that's all she's putting in his mouth!

Interestingly, Rep. Allen's Florida House webpage lists his recreational interest as water sports.

Randy said...

Not going to touch that one with a 10' pole. No. Won't go there. Did NOT see that.

Palladian! Please!

Maxine Weiss said...

Althouse is comparing the "drug pusher" (Prostitute) to the "drug user" (Client).

According to Althouse logic, drug pushing ought to be treated the exact same as drug using.

The drug dealers are always dealt with more harshly than the drug users.

The one person has an addiction, the other is furnishing an illegal act.

marklewin said...


Tangential to the subject at hand..Let's say Vitter was to take your advice and attempt to legalize prostitution. Do you believe this legislative advocacy could cause more damage to his marital relationship or further 'injury' to his wife?

Maxine Weiss said...

Punishing a weakness (Vitter)


Punishing an illegality (Palfrey)

Beth said...

Tangentially -- there's some good local blogging going on about Vitter at righthandthief.blogspot.com

If you're interested...

Randy said...

Continuing the tangential theme, please pardon my reference to the Senator from Louisiana as "Vitters." His name, of course, is "Vitter."

Hector Owen said...

About the shenanigans: Harkonnendog is right, the WSJ never wrote that. Here is the actual WSJ editorial, about the Democrats' reaction to the Foley scandal. It was John Whiteside, in the blogpost referenced by Invisible Man, who said, "It's hard to believe that the editors of the Wall Street Journal can't distinguish between relationships between consenting adults and relationships where there's an abuse of power. And the Boy Scout comment is a gratuitous little 'and they're all child molesters, you know!' slam. Of course, given that the majority of sexual predators are heterosexual men, we can use their logic to conclude that parents had best keep their daughters away from the Wall Street Journal's offices." Downtownlad is quoting John Whiteside, who is being snarky about the WSJ. Downtownlad is not quoting the WSJ.

Just for clarity.

Hector Owen said...

Of course, I am guessing that Invisible Man guessed right about which WSJ editorial downtownlad meant to reference.

Harkonnendog said...

Lol at Invisible for defending downtown by committing the same shenanigan. :)

Joe said...

I read Taranto every day and his rebuttal to Anne may be the dumbest thing I've ever read. It's especially ironic that he delights in skewering liberal moonbats who say stuff half as stupid.

The worrisome part is the fear that there are people who honestly agree with what Taranto wrote and quoted.

(I suspect that Taranto is doesn't really care about the issue one way or the other and is simply being a contrarian. I wouldn't be at all surprised if, in the near future, he writes "Ha, fooled you all." I hope he writes that since it would be rather disappointing to find out Taranto is a blithering idiot.)

Peter Hoh said...

Rev, in a war of ideas, hypocritical behavior is very damaging to the cause.

Beth said...

There's the hypocrisy of Vitter claiming this is a private matter, while the madame faces her consequences through the justice system. But let's not forget that Vitter was calling for Clinton to resign or be removed from office because of his sexual escapades. In 1998, he wrote an guest editorial for the Times-Picayune, disagreeing with the idea that impeachment is to remove an official no longer able to govern, not one guilty of moral transgressions. Vitter argued that the intent of the founders was that we should remove someone found morally unfit to govern.

In 1998, Vitter was having an affair with "exotic masseusse" Wendy Cortez. That's not the same prostitute with whom he is rumored to have fathered a daughter, now living in Alexandria, La., and not receiving child support from the senator.

Really, why feel sorry for this guy?

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy said...

Really, why feel sorry for this guy?

Because he is a Republican, and the prostitutes were women, it would appear [See Edwards, Edwin: Live Boy or Dead Girl].

Revenant said...

Rev, in a war of ideas, hypocritical behavior is very damaging to the cause.

In a war of personalities, hypocrisy is damaging. Politically, hypocrisy is damaging. In a war of ideas it is irrelevant.

Thomas Jefferson was a slaveowner. Few, if any, of the founding fathers treated women as equals (not even John Adams. None of this detracts from the worth of their ideas. People who sneer at American ideals of freedom by saying "yeah, but the Founders owned slaves" aren't worthy of serious consideration. They're not engaging in a debate about the worth of the ideas; they're just engaging in ad hominem attacks.


We'll just have to agree to disagree about the relative worth of moral advocacy. Of course, since (unlike Taranto) I don't think there's anything immoral about prostitution or most of the other things Vitter rails against this is largely a moot point. :)

Revenant said...

Really, why feel sorry for this guy?

Has anyone actually expressed sympathy for him, here or anywhere?

Randy said...

Revenant: LOL! to your first comment. As for the second, off the top of my head, only one comment here and another on the earlier thread came close to feeling sorry for him, and thats an impression I had after reading them, not the actual words. (Which undoubtedly means those who wrote them intended the opposite, of course.)

marklewin said...

Revenant said...

Has anyone actually expressed sympathy for him, here or anywhere?

Ann wrote on Tuesday in her blog post, among other things that she felt sorry for Vitter:

"I didn't say Vitter "is getting off easy." In fact, I feel sorry for him. I am simply objecting to his announcement that it's a private matter in the realm of family and religion."

dbp said...

When Vitter said, "it's a private matter in the realm of family and religion." he wasn't attempting to claim immunity from prosecution: He was explaining to the media his reasons for not answering any of their questions.

I would presume that if he has commited a crime and if there is sufficient evidence of this, then he will be charged. Just like the madam has been.


TMink said...

IR wrote: "And as I said, there are many people who I'd happily cut some slack to because they don't live and breathe pretending to be morally superior beings."

Amen. Call it true Ronin. I know and understand that people are bent and twisted. But it really irks me when bent and twisted people make a living pretending to be something else and ranting against the behavior they engage in.