Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 21, 2009

WHAT'S VITTER WAITING FOR?.... The controversy surrounding Louisiana's Keith Bardwell generated national attention, and with good reason. A justice of the peace, Bardwell refuses to perform marriage ceremonies for inter-racial couples. "I'm not a racist," he argued as a defense. "I just don't believe in mixing the races that way."

As soon as the story went national, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) condemned Bardwell's practices and called on him to resign. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) did the same thing. It was a no-brainer.

But then there's that other statewide Louisianan, whose silence has been conspicuous. As of Monday, Sen. David Vitter, a far-right Republican, had issued no public statements about the Bardwell matter, and taken no steps to criticize his racism.

Yesterday, Vitter passed up another chance to at least say something about the issue.

Although both Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) have publicly condemned Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell for refusing to issue marriage licenses to interracial couples, Sen. David Vitter (R) has stayed noticeably silent. (ThinkProgress contacted his office, but we did not receive a response.)

Blogger-activist Mike Stark caught up with Vitter and asked him about his position. "Have you commented? What did you have to say about it?" asked Stark. Vitter simply smiled, stepped into the elevator, and allowed the doors to close.

These aren't trick questions. Vitter might have been able to say, initially, that he hadn't heard about the Bardwell matter, but that's no longer an option. The senator is no doubt aware of the story, and probably has an opinion about it. If not, he should.

There's a justice of the peace in David Vitter's home state that won't marry inter-racial couples. His colleagues think he should resign. What impression should we get from Vitter's refusal to say anything at all?

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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I guess Vitter knows his constituents and doesn't care about trivial niceties like constitutionality.

Posted by: freelunch on October 21, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Just because a Republican senator refuses to condemn the outright racist actions of Bardwell does not mean he's condoning racism. Vitter may well be pre-occupied with thoughts of delicious diaper sex, and thus really is unprepared to comment.

Posted by: Domage on October 21, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

he wants to allow the Dem to get back into the race that polls show him comfortably leading.

thanks

eric

Posted by: eric on October 21, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

he's got the dumb racist vote in louisiana despite getting caught going to hookers (this no doubt raised his status in the eyes of some of them) -- why tempt losing this base base by even mouthing platitudes about human rights in louisiana?

he's a smart politician and a vile human being -- classic senatorial material.

Posted by: neill on October 21, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

What impression should we get from Vitter's refusal to say anything at all?

What do you think? Not only is he a racist, apparently that doesn't matter in his congressional district. Where's Al Sharpton when you really need him?

Posted by: stevio on October 21, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

He doesn't want to alienate his base...

...that being, bigots and hypocrites.

Posted by: JJC on October 21, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"What impression should we get from Vitter's refusal to say anything at all?"

We get the impression that he's a bigger jerk than
we thought he was!

Posted by: mrspeel on October 21, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

What impression should we get from Vitter's refusal to say anything at all?

That U.S. Senators have nothing to do with Justices of the Peace, and that expecting elected officials to comment on controversies outside their concern would lead to a never-ending game of "gotcha!"

Posted by: Grumpy on October 21, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I would advise his opponent to hammer Vitter on this issue, except I'm not sure it would do any good.

I'm sorry, but with the possible exception of New Orleans, Louisiana is a messed up state.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 21, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

This article is grossly unfair. The esteemed senator is only reflecting the values of his constituents who know that biracial marriages are a sign of the devil and against the laws of god.

Forgiveness is divine and righteous. We can forgive his past indiscretions with professional women because we know that he was tricked into those by the Jesus hating democrats.

Posted by: A Vitter Supporter on October 21, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Realistically he probably goes up in the LA polls by saying nothing at all.

Posted by: Comment Czar on October 21, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Don’t expect any statement from Vitter.
About 1998, Republican Governor Mike Foster faced a similar situation. During his election the year before, he had purchased mailing lists from David Duke for a lot of money. There was a big uproar but he never apologized and easily got reelected 3 years later. Interracial marriage is pretty rare Louisiana and Vitter knows there are many who despise it.

Posted by: BigRed on October 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

With apologies to Randy Newman: Louisiana -- it's always 1927.

Posted by: shortstop on October 21, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

He was simply in a hurry to get is diapers changed...

Posted by: stormskies on October 21, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

The impression I get is the one we all probably have, and that is that Vitter is a racist and an asshole.

Posted by: Alex Kirby on October 21, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't his silence a statement of approval? There is no middle ground here. By saying nothing he says everything. His refusal to condemn an obvious racist can only mean he has no problem with his actions.

Justice of the Prejudice should already have been removed from office. Who the hell does he think he is to insult biracial children as something less than other children? If he was born in LA chances are he is a biracial child himself if we dug deep enough into his family history.

Posted by: bjobotts on October 21, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Diaper Dave can't risk alienating his base by showing basic human decency. He has to pander to his racist comrades if he wants to keep his office.

Posted by: Patrick on October 21, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to dash your lofty sentiment, but Louisiana is not the brightest star in our flag. But at least they do music and food justice.

Posted by: Chopin on October 21, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think the Senator has spoken from behind his white sheet.

Posted by: Paul in KY on October 21, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

The impression is simply that Vitter doesn't want to say anything that'll cost him votes against the porn star and others in the primary. He could run on a pro-slavery, pro-antebellum platform and win the primary because that's what those racist f-tards want to hear. Now, if he ran on Landriu's more modest platform, he would be toast against Perkins or Stormy. In the general, it's gonna be a different story because he'll carry those nutbars but the state isn't 100% nutbars. Even Louisianians are tired of nutbars and 2 or 3 visits from Obama in 2010 could change a lot of minds. Melancon, while not a perfect Dem, would be a change of pace from Diaper boy.

Posted by: agentX on October 21, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Vitter hasn't said anything condemning Bardwell is that he *agrees* with him. Then again, there's something refreshing about a racist who comes right out and admits it, rather than one who claims to not be a racist, all the while making stereotypically racist statements.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 21, 2009 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"The senator is no doubt aware of the story, and probably has an opinion about it. If not, he should."

Why will he go to jail if he doesn't? That's totlitarian isn't it? To suggest a man must have an opinion on everything, even a U.S. Senator.

Of course it should be pointed out the judge didn't prevent the marriage license from being issued, he could not. He simply recused himself due HIS OWN OPINION. Does he have a right to this and do not the voters of his parish have the right to offer their judgement of his actions? Why must he resign for his opinion?

It's a free country isn't it?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on October 21, 2009 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

So by your logic, if a Muslim cab driver refuses to transport a blind person with a seeing eye dog for religious reasons, hey, it's a free country, isn't it.

Or a Jewish or Muslim waiter refuses to serve you a BLT, free country, right? Or a vegetarian cashier won't sell you that beef jerky. You'll just have to wait for Bob to get back from his break to get your food.

Yes, it's a free country -- until it interferes with your ability to do your job.

Posted by: lou on October 21, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that almost every posting I see here and elsewhere supporting Republicans or Southerners (a distinction without a difference, I know) is filled with misspellings, grammatical errors and poor punctuation?

On that note (Sean Scallon) every representative of the state, including a Justice of the Peace, is expected to exercise his duties based on legal precedents, not personal opinion. If his opinions and the law don't agree, then it is his honorable duty to resign his post. You don’t get to pick and choose which precedents you like.

Posted by: Mandy Cat on October 21, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Following on Mandy, Mr. Justice Jerk probably took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the U.S., which says something about "equal protection under the law".

Posted by: converse on October 21, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

"So by your logic, if a Muslim cab driver refuses to transport a blind person with a seeing eye dog for religious reasons, hey, it's a free country, isn't it. Or a Jewish or Muslim waiter refuses to serve you a BLT, free country, right? Or a vegetarian cashier won't sell you that beef jerky. You'll just have to wait for Bob to get back from his break to get your food."

You have touched on something that happens many times in our society, more than you might think. There are Muslim store clerks who refuse to sell to shoppers in grocery stores. There are Christian pharmacists who refuse to sell contraceptives. There are Muslim cab drivers who refuse to transport dogs.

Since this wonderful, integrated, multi-cultural society created by mass immigration is what all of you on the Left desire for the U.S., then you can deal with all of it contradictions. If you believe in freedom, then you have to accept the fact that some person's freedom of action (say by religion or speech) may very well discriminate against others for valid, Constitutionally protected reasons.

As for you Mandy Cat, since I'm not a Southerner and I come from a "blue" state whatever that means, can I be exempted from your bigoted rant against your fellow American?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on October 22, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK
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