I know many of you read Daily Kos, but for those of you who don’t, there’s a front-page article about the latest tussle between the Democrats and Senator Vitter. Here’s a bit of background, quoted within the diary from www.theadvertiser.com:
Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington filed a sworn complaint with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics Thursday accusing U.S. Sen. David Vitter of using taxpayer-funded town hall meetings to engage in campaign activity.
Whittington’s complaint is based on Vitter’s statements at several taxpayer-funded town hall meetings criticizing U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, a potential re-election opponent. At one town hall meeting, Vitter encouraged the audience to “keep up the pressure on” Melancon.
Basically, as the Daily Kos article explains, politicians are legally supposed to avoid actually campaigning at taxpayer-funded events. My feeling is that “keep up the pressure on Melancon” does not constitute clear enough evidence of actually campaigning (e.g., “vote for me and not that dog who’s running against me”) for the courts to find him guilty of anything. As for the Senate Committee on Ethics, don’t make me laugh! They never even reprimanded Vitter for screwing whores, did they (pardon my language)? As far as I can tell the Ethics Committees in both Houses of Congress are essentially moribund and unlikely to take action against any member of Congress unless they are guilty of rape, murder, or something else that’s really sensational.
Anyway, my overall conclusion, as I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear, is that, especially in the context of Louisiana politics, this complaint doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
The background story, though, might (from the Daily Kos diary):
What is clear, however, is that the Louisiana Democratic Party is serious about 2010, and serious about their presumptive candidate. Which has to be heartening both to Melancon and the Democrats in Washington eager to expand their Senate majority, if at all possible.
The new blank check that Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate gave to the Bush administration this week to continue the occupation of Iraq contains money and write-offs for storm-affected areas of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation would have us believe that this is some great victory for the state.
It is not.
It is blood money.
It is the craven attempt of two of Louisiana’s three congressional Democrats to provide some semblance respectability for their assumption of joint-ownership of the national disaster that is the occupation of Iraq. Democrats who voted for the supplemental appropriation for the war are now co-owners of the policy choices that are wrecking the Army.
Republicans like Senator David Vitter and Congressman/compulsive candidate Bobby Jindal took ownership of this war long-ago. Democrats in Louisiana ought to have expected more out of Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Charlie Melancon on this war; after all, Louisiana has paid a very steep price for this war in terms of lives lost in this war that was based on lies. That does not even bring into account the cost storm-ravaged Louisiana paid in 2005 when so much of our National Guard’s equipment was in Iraq instead of being put to use in rescue and recovery efforts here. It also was revealed this week that the Bush administration had been warned by the CIA about the hazards of invading Iraq.
For the first three years of this war and occupation, the Republican-controlled Congress did nothing to hold the Bush administration accountable for its policies in Iraq. With this vote, many Democrats have demonstrated that they are no more committed to accountability than the Republicans were.
It has become clear that the Bush administration has used the pretext of this war of choice as the basis to subvert constitutional law in this country, to violate civil liberties with impunity, and to abandon the rule of law. Democrats who voted to allow this occupation to continue without restraint have signed on to this process. Like the President, they have now violated the Constitution that their oaths of office committed them to defend and protect.
With this vote to continue funding the occupation of Iraq without any restraints on the administration’s policies, Democrats have spent whatever moral and political capital they had won by posing as strong opponents of the administration’s policies in Iraq. If Democrats cannot stand up to this administration now when nearly 80 percent of the country thinks we’re on the wrong track, when almost 2/3 of the people believe going to war was a mistake, when will they have the courage and conviction to do so?
Democratic voters need to wise up. This vote demonstrates that the presence of a “D” behind a candidate’s name cannot be sufficient justification for support. Senator Landrieu and Congressman Melancon will run in party primaries in 2008. I hope members of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party will have the courage to challenge Landrieu and Melancon in those 2008 primaries in order to force them to account for the votes they just cast in support of this war.
Louisiana Democrats need to ask Landrieu and Melancon how they can justify asking our men and women in the armed forces to continue dying for a mistake.