Roosevelt, Vitter, & Bartlet July 19, 2007March 8, 2017 PAYING FOR THE WAR I was reading the 1941 budget the other day (more particularly, FDR’s transmittal message, submitted January 3, 1940) – talk about being behind in your reading! – and came across this paragraph, headed National Defense Taxes: I am convinced that specific tax legislation should be enacted to finance the emergency national defense expenditures. Although these expenditures appear unavoidable, they will not increase the permanent wealth-producing capacity of our citizens. I believe it is the general sense of the country that this type of emergency expenditure be met by a special tax or taxes. Moreover, this course will make for greater assurance that such expenditures will cease when the emergency has passed. He continues: . . . I hope that the Congress will follow the accepted principle of good taxation of taxing according to ability to pay and will avoid taxes which decrease consumer buying power. (On the very same page, he speaks of the $50 million the government spends annually on dredging. You see? Dredging is fundamental to a free and prosperous society! Don’t sell your GLDD – but I am easily distracted and digress.) He concludes with the thought that the national debt he had racked up over the prior eight years was not a cause for alarm, because it had been used to build the nation’s infrastructure and its productive capacity (along with its morale). He did not go on to say – but one can hardly read this today without thinking – that, obviously, you would never suffer an increase in the national debt for the purpose of lowering taxes for the rich or starting a war of choice. On the final page of his message, he hand signs it . . . followed by 1,079 pages of ledgers and small type. I don’t know how many such copies he signed, but I could not resist buying this one.* HYPOCRISY Bill Press on Senator Vitter. Here: Republican Family Values by Bill Press Republicans routinely paint themselves as the party of “family values,” without spelling out exactly what values they’re talking about. Well, now we know. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, one of the leading “family values” Republicans and Rudy Giuliani’s Southern regional campaign chairman, is caught keeping company with prostitutes – and fellow Republicans rush to his defense. Vitter’s is the first politician’s name to appear in the not-so-little black book of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “D.C. Madam.” Charged with running a high-priced prostitution ring in Washington, Palfrey at first offered to sell her phone records to the media but later, unfortunately for Vitter, published her entire list of clients – all 15,000 names and 46 pounds of it – on her Web site. As we soon learned, this wasn’t Vitter’s first walk on the wild side. Jeanette Maier, known as New Orleans’ “Canal Street Madam,” revealed that Vitter had been one of her regular customers too, beginning in the mid-1990s, paying $300 an hour for services received. And that’s not all. Details also resurfaced, as first reported by The Louisiana Weekly, of Vitter’s twice-weekly visits to a prostitute in the French Quarter in the late 1990s. Running successfully for Congress in 1999, and again for Senate in 2004, Vitter got away with dismissing allegations of sexual misconduct as nothing but dirty politics. When his name showed up on Palfrey’s client list, however, Vitter had to fess up – and did, sort of. In a written statement, he admitted having committed “a very serious sin,” but he also insisted that was the end of the story. “Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling,” he boldly asserted. “Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there – with God and them.” Wait a minute. That’s not what Vitter said about Bill Clinton in the fall of 1998. When Clinton made the identical argument about consulting God and wife, after details of his affair with Monica Lewinsky became public, Vitter – then still a state legislator – condemned Clinton as “morally unfit to govern.” If no action were taken against Clinton, Vitter wrote in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “his leadership will only further drain any sense of values left to our political culture.” By his own standards, then, Vitter should be tossed out of office. Indeed, his offense is worse than Clinton’s, because Vitter also broke the law. Last time I checked, prostitution is not only considered immoral, it’s illegal. Yes, believe it or not, prostitution’s a crime even in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. As it turns out, Vitter’s not the only one who has a double standard when it comes to sexual hijinks. So does his wife. “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News Service in 2000, speaking of the Clinton scandal. “If (my husband) does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.” Ouch! If you think David Vitter’s wife is more forgiving of her husband than of Bill Clinton, hear what his fellow Republican senators had to say. Utah’s Orrin Hatch, who helped lead the charge against Bill Clinton, said of Vitter: “I’ve never judged a human being on those type of issues.” (Does he think our memory’s so short?) North Carolina’s Richard Burr saw no problem: “David has already resolved this with his family and taken responsibility for it.” And South Carolina’s Jim DeMint seemed to suggest he could be next: “We all think that we’re not vulnerable to something like that happening, but the fact is this can be a very lonely and isolating place.” So why does all this matter? It shouldn’t matter, frankly. Who cares what two consenting adults do behind closed doors, even for a fee? And it wouldn’t matter at all if Vitter weren’t such a hypocrite. But here’s a man who posed as “Mr. Family Values” in public, condemning his political opponents as immoral, while leading his own immoral and illegal life in private. He’s a hypocrite, and so are all those self-righteous Republicans who make excuses for him. At least a prostitute is honest about who she is. JED BARTLET ON THE BIBLE And while we’re bashing the right-wing moralizers, this West Wing clip never gets old. * More than a Swatch, less than a Rolex. Listen; I never said I was without vices.