In a statement Monday, Sen. David Vitter said that he would return to Washington to continue work on issues of import to Louisianans. The statement came in the midst of some speculation that the freshman Senator would step down. Democrats had hoped that Gov. Kathleen Blacno would replace him with one of their own, thus allowing an incumbent Democrat to run in a special election next year.
Vitter’s decision is important for several reasons. First, it keeps his own seat off the table until 2010. Vitter was the first Republican elected to the Senate since Reconstruction, and Democrats were anxious to regain their lock by forcing him out amid this scandal. This decision keeps that from even being possible before 2010 and gives him three years to recover. Early prediction: David Vitter will be reelected.
On a national level, Democrats had hoped that Gov. Kathleen Blanco would replace Vitter with one of their own, thus allowing one of their own to seek election in his own right next year. Democrats are anxious to expand their thin majority, and one seat might not make a huge difference in next year’s elections, but it could be critical in 2010. Not only will Vitter keep his seat for now, but Democrats will have an uphill battle to unseat him in three years time.
As for policy matters, Vitter is one of the strongest conservatives in the Senate. He has been a leader on social issues and could well continue to be. In his statement today, he pointed out the difference between having standards and living up to them, and said that his behavior has nothing to do with those standards themselves. Similarly, any conservatives who engage in attacks against individuals rather than discussing the behavior in which those individuals engage should take note and return to the discussion of the behavior, not the person. If Christian conservatives wish to be taken seriously, forgiving Vitter is a must, and that will demonstrate a good part of what Christianity is all about.
Finally, and most importantly, this comes as a major defeat to Larry Flynt, whose goal in life is destroying those of others. Flynt’s behavior is appauling. He gains nothing by destroying these lives, and Vitter should be commended for telling him to take his campaign of personal destruction and shove it. These campaigns must end, and Vitter’s willingness to stand up to Flynt is a good start.