T-P’s Gill Skewers State Dems On Vitter, Letten, O’Keefe

Echoing a number of statements we’ve made here at the Hayride, estimable New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist James Gill let loose today with a brutal – and highly entertaining – smackdown of the Louisiana Democrat Party and some of the loopy notions it has been peddling of late.


First order of business for former congressman and state legislator Claude “Buddy” Leach should be to bring in the men in white coats.

No, Leach has not landed with some group that plans to wait on a hilltop for the end of the world next Saturday, say. But it is almost that bad. He has just been elected chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Democrats, in their desperate quest to oust U.S. Sen. David Vitter, have grown delusional. Thus, Vitter is variously cast as a criminal mastermind operating in the shadows, and the timid victim of blackmail.

Gill launches into a description of the second theory, one which has lingered in the breeze like burnt trash for the last 4-5 years. It goes like this – when U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten took down the Canal Street Madam a few years ago, he got the goods on Vitter as a customer. And in return for Vitter getting let off the hook, Letten found himself a political benefactor who would keep him in his current position come hell, high water or a Democrat president (please, no cracks about how there isn’t much difference between the three).

The theory is a slur against virtually everyone involved, obviously, and it argues for the existence of Vitter Derangement Syndrome – a phenomenon we’ve equated to Republican mania surrounding Edwin Edwards and Democrat unhingery about George W. Bush. That Letten and Vitter should both be Republicans is likely reason enough for Letten to have donated $300 to Vitter’s campaign, and that Letten does a singularly good job busting up corrupt politicians – most of them Democrats – and ingratiating himself to the populace is plenty enough reason why Vitter should treat him as a prize.

Gill puts it quite succintly:

When Vitter wants a Republican U.S. attorney to remain in place, no tortured explanation is required.

Which brings us to the other major issue involving Vitter, Letten and feverish Democrat apparatchiks – namely, James O’Keefe. Gill isn’t impressed with the goofy accusations made by the state’s Dems that Vitter somehow was involved with O’Keefe’s caper in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office. When we addressed that one on The Hayride, we said:

The answer, in all likelihood, is psychological. Establishment Louisiana Democrats and other lefties hate Vitter with a fervor and fanaticism not dissimilar to that which Republicans in the state hated former governor Edwin Edwards. The state’s Democrats first hated Vitter because he’s an unapologetic, activist conservative, and when he admitted involvement in untoward behavior surrounding a scandal involving a D.C. prostitution ring in 2007 it was merely fuel for the fire. Three years later, when it seems patently obvious that Vitter will get re-elected by a state electorate (he leads Charlie Melancon by anywhere between 18 and 20 points in recent polling) willing to forgive his sins precisely because of the unabashed conservatism Democrats hated him for in the first place, it’s enough to have them completely unhinged.

Of course, for Vitter to have been involved in the O’Keefe play it would certainly have had to involve a lot more than just an attempt to embarrass Landrieu for not answering her constituents’ phone calls; O’Keefe, of ACORN exposure fame, wouldn’t have needed Vitter to put him up to such a stunt and even his most ardent left-wing detractors have to admit Vitter is a lot smarter than to jeopardize a 20-point lead over Charlie Melancon’s moribund campaign on a salvo against Landrieu when he’s not running against her. Since O’Keefe has publicly stated what his intentions were, Vitter’s involvement seems impossibly implausible.

And furthermore, O’Keefe’s caper wasn’t exactly without unwanted consequences on the conservative side. The fact that he gave a seminar on “citizen journalism” the Thursday before his exploits at Landrieu’s offices to invitees of the free-market think tank The Pelican Institute in New Orleans has brought the wrath of lefty media shops down on that organization, and you can only imagine the effect a well-intentioned policy shop with no interest in or taste for the kind of controversy the Landrieu situation has caused the folks there.

One can hardly blame the state’s Democrats for pining for a game-changing scandal that will reverse their dreadful fortunes and offset their lack of political talent, so the current wild conspiracy theories and goofy statements they’re slinging aren’t much of a surprise. Those aren’t much of a substitute for ideas, however, and the problem the Dems have is they’re running a bit short of those these days.



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