Who-Dat Imbroglio Shows Differences Between Conservatives, Left (Updated, 7:50 a.m.)

If this isn’t a “teachable moment,” nothing is.

When the NFL began attempting to enforce trademark restrictions against Louisiana merchants selling t-shirts and other goods bearing the “Who Dat” phrase or fleur-de-lis logos in advance of the Saints’ Super Bowl appearance on Sunday, Republican Senator David Vitter sent a letter to the league telling them he was going to sell his own Who Dat shirts and if they didn’t drop their “obnoxious” efforts to stop people from selling Who-Dat shirts without a license they’d have to sue him, too.

It was a brilliant piece of PR, and Vitter got a great bump out of the Who-Dat fight.

So what was the Democrat approach to the issue?

Take a guess. Just one guess.

If you said “sue somebody,” you nailed it.

Yep. The state Democrats, who followed through on their threat to inflict Buddy Leach on Louisiana as the state party chair on Saturday, also put out a communique calling upon Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal to let state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell institute legal action against the NFL to force the league to drop its stance on the Who Dat question.

From the Baton Rouge Advocate article on the subject…

The Democratic resolution calls upon Jindal to “put aside his close relationship (with Saints owner Tom Benson) and authorize the attorney general of the state of Louisiana to institute suit to protect the rights of the citizens of the state of Louisiana to the terms ‘Who Dat’ … and the fleur-de-lis symbol.”

For his part, Jindal practiced a solid bit of head-nodding (fence-straddling?) through a statement:

Later Saturday, Jindal’s executive counsel, Stephen Waguespack, asked the state Attorney General’s Office to “take whatever steps are necessary to protect the Who Dat Nation …”

“If litigation is necessary, so be it,” the Governor’s Office said in a short statement in response to media inquiries.

UPDATE: As the state’s Democrats plotted lawsuits paid for by public dollars, Vitter was busy engaging the NFL in the court of public relations. Responding to the NFL’s crawfishing letter from Friday, Vitter fired back another missive Monday morning:

February 1, 2010

VIA FACSIMILE, ELECTRONIC MAIL AND OVERNIGHT DELIVERY 

Dear Commissioner Goodell: 

I received the NFL’s response to my letter last Friday and have also read NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy’s public statements in response to my letter. 

Thank you for changing your position and correctly recognizing that the NFL has no trademark or other ownership rights to the term “Who Dat,” notwithstanding the silly “misunderstanding” and other language being used by the NFL to disguise its retreat. 

Much of this defensive language – like the explanation that “it’s when Who Dat is used in conjunction with Saints marks that it’s a problem” – only serves to confirm that the NFL has no claim to the phrase in any way, shape or form.  In those cases, of course, it’s the use of a truly NFL-created and registered mark (trademark) that’s the problem, having nothing at all to do with the coincident use of the term “Who Dat” on the merchandise in question. 

In the overnight delivery of this letter, I fulfill my promise and enclose a gift – the very first of my black and gold t-shirts hot off the press, which read “Who Dat say we can’t print Who Dat! (C) TM 2010 David Vitter (just kidding).”  Wear it proudly and with a smile. Should your lawyers want some to wear, many more are available at www.davidvitter.com for $10 each with any profits going to the Brees Dream Foundation.  

Finally, thank you again for all of the NFL’s enormous support and help following Hurricane Katrina.  In recognition of this, Who Dat Nation invites you to personally lead us in a cheer after the Saints’ defeat of the Colts in the Super Bowl . . . and you know which cheer we’re talking about! 

Sincerely,

David Vitter

Junior Senator of Who Dat Nation

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