Is David Vitter ready for another encounter with a sex worker? More to the point, are Louisiana voters up for another 20-plus months of being reminded of Vitter's "very serious sin?" It all depends on whether porn star Stormy Daniels is serious about running against Vitter next year.
"Serious" is certainly the right word for Vitter's moral failure, not to mention his hypocrisy, cowardice and the fact that he invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to keep from testifying in a federal racketeering trial. But "serious" hardly describes Daniels' extended flirtation with a possible run for the U.S. Senate. Titillating, maybe, but not serious.
For those unfamiliar with her, Daniels is the Baton Rouge native who has made quite a name for herself in what is euphemistically called the adult entertainment industry. In network interviews, she comes across as surprisingly articulate, even savvy, at least as far as the smut biz is concerned.
But, really, a Senate candidate?
No, "serious" is definitely not the word to describe her. Louisiana voters love political theater, but even their taste for the absurd has limits. Besides, Daniels has said she's not interested in a pay cut. She apparently makes a pile of dough making dirty movies. Heck, for all we know, Vitter may already be one of her customers, and everything Daniels has said and done thus far in response to the "Draft Stormy" movement appears aimed at selling DVDs, not winning political office.
As Democrats and some Republicans scrounge for truly serious opponents to challenge Vitter in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, the "Draft Stormy" romp has posited the laughable notion of Vitter co-starring in Daniels' first political storyline. I've never seen any of her films, but something tells me this comedy already has more plot than her typical video. The only thing missing is the sex.
And that, as Freud would remind us, is precisely what's driving this story. The mere mention of Daniels as a potential candidate is all about reminding voters of Vitter's "very serious sin" — the one he wishes everyone would just forget.
On one level, Daniels has already served the "Draft Stormy" purpose; everyone has been reminded that Vitter's phone number showed up at least five times in the records of the late, infamous D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. The more important (and still unanswered) question is whether voters will also recall Vitter's hypocrisy, shameless duplicity and cowardly refusal to answer questions about his role in Palfrey's interstate criminal enterprise.
That's where Daniels' candidacy, if she actually runs, could backfire. She would call attention to the fact that Vitter strayed from his wedding vows, but so what? Lots of folks in politics cheat on their spouses. The difference for Vitter is that not all of them regularly pay prostitutes for sex, a criminal act — and even fewer make a public spectacle of their own self-righteousness and others' alleged moral failures while secretly dallying with hookers — and then plead the Fifth to avoid having to testify in a federal racketeering trial.
No, Stormy Daniels may bring comic relief to the 2010 U.S. Senate race, but she could never nail Vitter on his very serious political — and criminal — sins. Those who want to take Vitter down should therefore hope that she enjoys her brief turn in the political spotlight — and then quickly returns to her chosen profession. If Vitter's "very serious sin" is turned into a sideshow, it will only help him laugh off his real sins ... on his way back to Washington.