When the “family values”-loving Mark Sanford (R-SC) won back his former seat in the House of Representatives after lying to his constituents, betraying his wife and then trespassing on that now-ex-wife’s home, many observers reminded us that evangelical Christians love a redemption narrative.
A core part of the fiery breed of God-fearingness shared by many on the far right is a belief in a “repentance for sin, being able to start anew, start afresh,” said Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University.
And as we debate whether now-New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner — who never actually left his wife — will be forgiven by Big Apple voters the way Mark Sanford was forgiven by South Carolina’s 1st district, we often forget to include in the discussion American’s foremost forgiven sinner — a man who cast aside all aspersions of scandal and continues to serve in the Senate as if he had never besmirched his own name: David Vitter (R-LA).
In 2007, Vitter — a leading advocate of banning same-sex marriage and opening public meetings with prayers — admitted that he was a client of D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfre. But he denied — nay, rebutted! — allegations that he’d also visited prostitutes in New Orleans. Then he said he was going to continue doing his important work in the Senate, despite the fact that much of America now knew that this law-breaking, cheating husband probably had a diaper fetish.
Vitter was easily re-elected in 2010 after running a campaign typified by what may be the most blatantly racist ad ever run by a member of the U.S. Congress:
(Who would dare welcome and feed the brown-skinned poor? You could get crucified for that.)
Since his re-election, the senator has mostly kept his head down except to verbally defecate on immigration reform, continue his generally corrupt ways and to take on the big banks — an issue so desperately in need of Republican support that even I was even willing to drop the diaper jokes.
But this week, Vitter revealed his real fetish with an amendment to this year’s farm bill that would ban certain convicts from SNAP, aka food-stamp benefits, for life. As David Dayen points out, “Cannily, the crime of soliciting prostitutes is exempted from this ban.”
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