David Vitter is a cheap political prostitute: Even Louisiana racists smell desperation in his foul new campaign ad

Screenshot 2015-10-27 14.21.39

By Robert Mann

David Duke, Jesse Helms and Lee Atwater would be proud. Those abominable race baiters (Helms and Atwater are dead) were undoubtedly the inspiration for a shocking television spot that Republican U.S Sen. David Vitter began running Tuesday on television stations and cable channels around Louisiana.

In the time it took one 30-second commercial to play, it was back to the (racist) future, Louisiana-style.

Vitter, who barely made it into the Nov. 21 runoff for governor with Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, demonstrated that he will stop at nothing to win the governor’s office – including trying to drag the state back to its racist past.

Political observers in Baton Rouge expected the runoff to get nasty. Vitter was deeply wounded by a poor, 23 percent showing on election night (Oct. 24). He finished 17 points behind Edwards, who surprised almost everyone with a strong 40 percent showing, leading the field of four major candidates. Many observers now give Edwards an even chance, or better, at winning the Governor’s Mansion, something unfathomable just weeks ago.

Few, however, thought Vitter would go full-tilt Willie Horton on just the third day of the runoff election. But he did.
In the spot, paid for by Vitter’s campaign, photos of President Obama and Edwards (who have never met) are cleverly melded together to appear as if they are standing side by side. In a menacing voice, the announcer warns, “Voting for Edwards is like voting to make Obama Louisiana’s next governor. Want proof? Obama dangerously calls for releasing six thousand criminals from jail.
“Edwards joined Obama, promising at South
ern University he’ll release fifty-five hundred in Louisiana alone,” the spot continues. “Fifty-five hundred dangerous thugs, drug dealers, back into our streets.”

As anyone in Louisiana knows, Southern University is the state’s largest historically black university. And, as anyone who has studied racial politics over past decade can attest, “thug” is a loaded word – a racial dog-whistle that means, to many, a “black criminal.”

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11 Responses to David Vitter is a cheap political prostitute: Even Louisiana racists smell desperation in his foul new campaign ad

  1. Tom Aswell says:

    Calling Vitter a prostitute wasn’t a Freudian slip, was it? 🙂



  2. Michael Wade says:

    An ad straight out of the Poppy Bush “Willie Horton” past, only this one has even less substance than the 1988 one did. Intelligent, non-racist Louisianans will see this as a sign that Vitter has absolutely nothing to offer the Bayou State, other than his own sordid past and undistinguished record in the Senate, where he was routinely ignored by his colleagues and compiled a miniscule legislative record in terms of both substance and quantity. Let’s have the West Pointer and integrity!


  3. jechoisir says:

    If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is “racism.” Over the past seven years, I think most Louisianians have come to associate Obama with a program and an attitude they find repugnant—arrogant (I’ve got a pen and a ‘phone), lacking a vision of the positive part of what the U.S. is about, and—yes, racism that has displayed itself from the Henry Louis Gates non-issue through the inappropriate remarks about situations in Florida and Saint Louis, and New York and across the nation. That racism has triggered a response that still shocks me and that deeply troubles some of my black friends. I don’t know if the President is aware of it (he does not seem to be a self-examiner, operates more from a defensive petty view) or not. But the nation is. He cried havoc and let loose the black gangs against police—and that is unquestionable. People I know hate this. We’ve been there, lived through that, hoped never again to see it.

    So before you cry “racist” about the advertisement, try to be a little more broad-minded about what Obama-as-Symbol actually means to most people in this state in 2016. I can understand he might have other symbolic implications for black people, but not for all, by any means. But in general Obama is just a figure who is detested for a wide variety of reasons among voters. Look at his programs that have raised the biggest ruckus, for instance.

    And look at some of the characteristic attitudes that have excited most dislike—arrogance, a refusal to listen to a cross-section of ordinary people, incompetence in foreign affairs, and an emotional chilliness that lets him move seamlessly from the family of an American who was beheaded by ISiS to laughing it up on the gold course—5 minutes’ time, That insincerity and arrogance, that elitism are exactly what many Louisiana voters associate with David Vitter.

    In any case, Vitter’s use of Obama as the Bad Guy is not going to work in this election. We are not sending someone to Washington. We’re sending someone to Baton Rouge. It’s not like Mary Landrieu, who would be going to D.C. and affect important national issues and had a record that set her apart from the general electorate here. We are electing someone who must undertake to reorganize our financial affairs, do something to raise standards of achievement in public schools, and deal with the enmities left over from Governor Jindal’s second term—-to name only a few things.

    I believe it is gross over-reaction and way too strident over-reaction to cry “Racist” and Willie Horton and so forth in consequence of this ad. Willie Horton was a specific, nasty example of bad judgment and a flawed policy. Do you really think Louisianians imagine a man like John Bel Edwards—a West Point graduate, an ex-Ranger, a father—is going to throw open the gates of Angola? We are NOT that stupid.

    And that is the fly in Vitter’s ointment. He is that out-of-touch with the electorate.

    But I think this response to the advertisement appeals to the same emotions that it claims Mr. Vitter appealed. You are better than that. The people of Louisiana are better than that.


  4. Fayette Tompkins says:


    -ft Sent from my iPad Mini



  5. Stephen Winham says:

    The Vitter ads are disgusting and an embarrassment, not just to Louisianians but to all Americans. We have to hope he is largely preaching to the same small choir that voted for him in the primary. I really believe most of the people who voted for Angelle and Dardenne have a lot better sense than to believe Vitter is the answer even if he is a member of their party. It is no small wonder the number of people choosing no party affiliation is growing faster than any other..


  6. John D Fitzmorris, Jr says:

    I hope that racism is on he wane in Louisiana but I’m not so sure. I still hear it, subtly and coded in the salons of those who should know and feel differently. Edwards has to swing had and smart


    • jechoisir says:

      Let’s be honest here: some form of racism exists in white, black, and Latino salons, kitchens, and back porches, both by those who know better and those who don’t. Whites do not have a monopoly on racism, which simply refers to the use of race as the primary concern in responding to people of a given group. In some places in the world it’s based on ethnicity, but it’s the same thing. Does anybody really think Barack Obama would have beaten Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination had he been just another white guy from Chicago who said bland things and smiled? I can’t count the number of people who I know who said they voted for him because he was black—-and as one Californian put it, “a white black.” That was true nation-wide.

      In considering which party is appealing to race most successfully, I suggest you examine election analyses that show block voting patterns. Do predominantly black voting districts consistently elect white representatives? And what about lobbying groups?

      Nor is this peculiar to Louisiana or any other Southern state, where the black and white populations are more nearly equal. It is the source of all the Irish cop jokes, all the jokes about dumb Pollacks, the Norwegian condescension to the Swedes in the Midwest and Plains states.

      Of course, racism is waning in Louisiana. It will continue to wane as the same economic and social issues are shared by people of both races and as blacks and white continue to work with one another in jobs and community activities. The revival of black protests in this past year has been triggered and encouraged by Democrats, not Republicans. And not out of heartfelt altruism, either.

      The appeal to race, subtle and not so subtle, will used in this runoff election by both parties. And I cannot imagine why that would shock anyone.

      The advertisement under discussion appealed especially to those for whom law-and-order is a major issue, and in the wake of Ferguson and all that followed it, that is a particular issue for city dwellers, black and white.

      That it appeared on the very day the state Sheriffs’ organization endorsed Mr. Edwards ought to show how prescient the Vitter campaign is and how well they are reading Louisiana voters. What savvy political manager would suggest such an approach to the candidacy of a West Point graduate who also served in the elite Ranger unit and who is descended from and related to more sheriffs than Mr. Vitter probably knows? It is a sign of panic, if not lunacy.

      In Louisiana, I’m sad to say, an Army Ranger outranks a Rhodes Scholar every day, no matter what the names of the two are. If Mr. Edwards is elected—and I think he will be elected—he will owe that victory in part to Republican voters and even more to a Republican state apparatus that has lost touch with its real base. This will good for Louisiana as a state and good for the Republican hierarchy and the Democratic hierarchy.

      But let’s not forget that racism has dual membership in both parties, that one need not be white to be a racist. Mr. Vitter might not know that. But there is a lot Mr. Vitter doesn’t know.


  7. Butch GAUTREAUX says:

    Last I checked President Obama has only a year left in office and has a full plate. Once John Bel is presiding over State government he will have little time to worry about National government. Attempting to link John Bel to the President is laughable and the people of Louisiana won’t bite.


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