For your holiday entertainment, dear reader. Enjoy!
In a phone chat my sister Martha in Slidell, La., mentioned the increase in New Orleans crime. I told her I am listening to the guy who wrote the book (or books) on crime in New Orleans and in south Louisiana’s Cajun Country.
I’m on book seven of James Lee Burke’s series about New Iberia Parish, La., sheriff’s department detective, Dave Robicheaux – a fictional force fighting low lifes, street scum and mobsters in south Louisiana.
Martha and I made an easy transition from crime to Louisiana politicians. “What about David Vitter and all the prostitutes?” Martha asked.
“Welcome to Louisiana,” I said.
Not one hour after our conversation I ran across this jewel from Det. Robicheaux in Burke’s “A Stained White Radiance:”
“What always struck my eye first as I rolled over the apex of the bridge into Baton Rouge was the spire of the capitol building lifting itself out of the flat maze of trees and green parks in the old downtown area.
“All the state’s political actors since Reconstruction had passed through here - populists in suspenders and clip-on bowties, demagogues, alcoholic buffoons, virulent racists, a hillbilly singer who would be elected governor twice, another governor who broke out of a mental asylum in order to kill his wife, a recent governor who pardoned a convict in Angola who repaid the favor by murdering the governor’s brother, and the most famous and enigmatic player of them all, the Kingfish, who might have given FDR a run for his money had he not died, along with his supposed assassin, in a spray of 81 machine gun bullets in a hallway of the old capitol building.”
That recap of Lousiana political players was written in 1992.
Just a few years before, in 1985, the state’s governor, Edwin Edwards, was indicted on federal racketeering charges and a year later was acquitted of all charges. The next year Edwards lost his bid for re-election and Pope John Paul II visited the Crescent City, followed in '88 by Republicans in convention.
This gets better.
In 1989, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke won election to the Louisiana legislature.
At about this time, the state approved a lottery and casino gambling.
And in 1991, Edwards won a fourth term as governor in a landslide victory over former Grand Wizard Duke.
Edward's campaign slogan? "Vote for the crook, at least he’s honest!”
In 1993, Louisiana's violent crime rate was the highest in the nation.
See “A Selective Chronolgoy of Louisiana History."
All this is to say, among Louisiana political players Senator Vitter is small potatoes and par for the course.
As I wrote this, I was reminded of a brief post I read back in July on the ThinkProgress blog (LINK), a post written by Ben Bergmann about Vitter.
You’re going to love this:
“Earlier this week, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) told the Columbus Dispatch that the GOP was ‘being taken over by southerners’ and that the party has ‘too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns.’ Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) responded today by slamming his colleague for being a ‘moderate, really wishy-washy’ Republican. Vitter decried the influence of ‘moderates’ in his party, saying that the GOP has not stuck to ‘core conservative values:’
“ ‘I’m on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values,’ said Mr. Vitter, Louisiana Republican and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. ‘There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that’s why we performed so badly in the national elections.’ ”
I recommend Burke’s Robicheaux series. As I said of the movie “Fargo,” “Violence, raw sex, profanity, and suddenly you realize you’re being totally entertained.”
If there’s anything worse than violence, raw sex and profanity, it’s hypocrisy. Right, Sen. Vitter?
Have a great holiday, guys. I’ll see you Tuesday.