How about the entire city of New Orleans? Look at the Corps of the matter.
So Senator Dave Vitter screwed one person in New Orleans and won a million headlines. No one noticed when he, his fellow war supporters in Congress, and the White House repeatedly screwed the city’s entire (former) population before and after Hurricane Katrina hit.
In early September 2005, Vitter entered the official White House photo album by pointing out flood damage in Louisiana to President George W. Bush. But as I pointed out at the time, Vitter was gesturing in the direction of Iraq, which was soaking up funds diverted before Katrina:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mighty proud of its $100 million water project in Erbil, in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. But that’s just one of its thousands of reconstruction projects in Iraq.
In contrast, the entire 2005 construction budget for all Corps of Engineers projects in its New Orleans District was $94.3 million.
In June 2005, the Corps budget for New Orleans was slashed by $71.2 million, the heaviest cut the flood-prone city had ever experienced.
Two months later, Katrina hit, and water flooded into New Orleans. The Bush regime, with the support of Vitter, who was on the House Appropriations Committee before he became a senator in 2005 and was more ardent about big missiles than big levees, had been blowing its load of money on flood protection in Iraq. The Corps even established a “Gulf Region,” but it was the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico, and the Bush regime poured billions into building hospitals and health clinics in Iraq while letting New Orleans hospitals die.
What a drag. And that’s what Rudy Giuliani‘s aides are thinking. As Time pointed out July 10, Vitter is the Southern campaign director for Giuliani’s presidential bid. An outspoken social conservative closely tied to the Family Research Council, Bible-thumper James Dobson‘s D.C. arm, Vitter combined with Giuliani to make “strange bedfellows,” as Gambit Weekly‘s Jeremy Alford noted this past April.
Until Vitter was exposed as a brothel client, he had been obsessed — except when it came to New Orleans — with preventing the release of precious bodily fluids.
Pushing hard for abstinence education, Vitter has been quite the missionary. In a letter to the Senate Finance Committee leaders just three weeks ago, Vitter pleaded for the re-authorization of $50 million to spread abstinence education to the nation’s youth. Vitter wrote:
These programs provide teens with a clear message of health and help them develop personal boundaries and refusal and leadership skills in order to negotiate teen pressures.
No doubt a person will pay a higher price for sexual conduct without such negotiations.
Vitter’s letter added:
These funds help communities implement quality abstinence education programs and teach their children important lessons about health and character that will impact them their entire lives.
Or at least the rest of his term as a senator.
He co-wrote the letter with Kentucky senator Jim Bunning, the former Detroit Tigers pitcher. Quite a battery of pitcher and catcher.
Speaking of which, the moralists should say an extra prayer of thanks that Vitter was involved with the D.C. Madam instead of being just another AC/DC mister like so many other rigid right-wingers. Unlike evangelist Ted Haggard, Vitter is being criticized for screwing a woman.
To top it all, Vitter was escorted into Congress by someone else’s peckerdillo, and Hustler‘s Larry Flynt was the key figure in that episode as well as in outing Vitter’s hypocrisy. As Think Progress noted July 10:
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) first got his start in Congress after replacing former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), who “abruptly resigned after disclosures of numerous affairs” in 1998. At the time, Vitter argued that an extramarital affair was grounds for resignation:
“I think Livingston’s stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess,” he said. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 12/20/98]
Vitter wants to clean up such messes? Pass the Kleenex.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 12, 2007