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NOW Urges Senate to Expel David Vitter | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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NOW Urges Senate to Expel David Vitter

Technically, U.S. Senator David Vitter is identified as "R-Louisiana."

In reality, the senator is better characterized as "R-Knows No Shame."

Not only does Vitter continue to sit in the Senate after admitting to dalliances with prostitutes, he does so as a moralizing right winger who frets about indecency.

So hypocritical is Vitter's continued service in the Senate that one of Washington's noisier moralizers, Focus on the Family Council president Tony Perkins (a former Louisiana legislator) considered mounting a Republican primary challenge to the indecent incumbent.

Perkins eventually fell in line with Vitter's reelection campaign.

But after the Focus on the Family Council head objected to a Republican National Committee operative raising money at a Los Angeles strip club with a bondage theme,  the Louisiana Democratic Party asked: “If Tony Perkins thinks his followers shouldn’t give money to the RNC because they held a fundraiser at a sleazy, but legal, strip club, then it’s hard to imagine that he would condone contributing to the campaign of a Senator who has admitted breaking the law, adultery and engaging the services of prostitutes.”

Then, this summer, came the news that Vitter kept on staff for two years an aide who had pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges stemming from a knife-wielding altercation with an ex-girlfriend and who was wanted on an open warrant in Baton Rouge stemming from an unresolved misdemeanor DWI charge.

The Senate remains something of a gentlemen's club, so Vitter has essentially gotten a pass—of the sort that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, though far less of a hypocrite than Vitter, was not afforded.

But the National Organization for Women is calling for the Senate to censure and expel Vitter.

At the NOW convention in Boston, the delegates also:

* "urged Congress and the IRS to rein in the aggressive and unconstitutional lobbying of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops"

* "committed to an aggressive campaign to restore coverage of abortion care in the new health reform law by repealing the Hyde Amendment"

* "called for an immediate suspension of dismissals under the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy."

The call with regard to Vitter is likely to gain the most notice, even if the Senate does not act against the Louisianan, who faces reelection this year.

Of course, NOW's critics will dismiss the call for action against Vitter as an "extreme" demand from the feminist camp.

In fact,  Jeff Crouere, a prominent conservative commentator in Louisiana, called for Vitter to resign, as did the conservative Ouachita Citizen newspaper and the popular New Orleans weekly Gambit. 

Vitter's conservative colleague, Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, did not go quite that far, but he told Bloomberg Television back in 2007 that Vitter should be censured by the Senate. As Brownback said:  "I think you could see something like that taking place. If you look at the actual crime itself and the discussion across the country– and as a Republican– this is bad."

The Senate never acted.

NOW argues that it should.

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