Monday, September 03, 2007

The Craig/Vitter Double Standard

Leahy pointed it out on one of the morning programs this morning. The scripted republican response was predictable: "Craig pleaded guilty. Vitter did not. No crime so Vitter gets to stay." (And they say we Louisianans are shifty.)

Steven Benen has a good comment on the "no crime" defense.
his may not be wisest strategy. For one thing, confronted with evidence that made use of a prostitution service, Vitter conceded immediately that he’d “sinned.” I’m not an expert in the subject, but as I understand it, paying for sex is a crime, and Vitter publicly conceded that he’d violated this law. He would have been subject to criminal charges, but the statute of limitations ran out. For the GOP, that makes the “pretty big distinction” fairly small — Craig pleaded guilty to a recent crime, Vitter acknowledged guilt of a less recent crime.

Moreover, the whole argument seems premised on strained legalisms. Remember when the president urged Republicans to hold themselves to the highest moral standard? “We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right,” Bush said in 2001. “There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.”

So much for that idea.

Benen has a great memory for fine, aged hypocrisy, a rare talent in a time when there seems to be so much cheap nouveau hypocrisy.

Hey, even conservative Hilary-haters are disgusted with the sleaze on their side of the aisle.

And Ramesh Ponnuru at the "Corner" has an interesting take. "I don't think they're as worried that Vitter will be frequenting prostitutes." I wouldn't be so sure. And even if he does, he's still got Larry Flynt dangling the penis of Damocles over his head.

But the real reason for the double standard. If Craig quits a Republican governor names his replacement. If Vitter quits, Blanco names . . . who?

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