I agree with E.J. Dionne that on some level I’m “rooting for [Senator David] Vitter [R-LA] to survive because I so want to return to a time when we — that ‘we’ includes the media — chose to pay little attention to the extracurricular sexual activities of our politicians.” I don’t, however, think we should “grant Vitter our collective absolution and move on.” Among other things, while Vitter seems to have something to apologize about to his wife, there’s really nothing prostitution-related “we” need to collectively forgive Vitter for. I don’t feel wronged by Vitter having purchased the services of one or more prostitutes, so it would be silly to forgive him.
Nor do I feel wronged by Vitter’s hypocrisy since, at the end of the day, as far as sins go hypocrisy is pretty weak tea. What I do feel wronged by is Vitter’s wrongheaded views about public policy whose wrongheadedness is demonstrated by the sympathy decent people have for Vitter’s situation. I mean, who among us thinks that what the world needs is for the state to do a more vigorous job of harassing David Vitter into conforming his sex life to traditional norms? The answer, it turns out, is . . . David Vitter; except that maybe it turns out that Vitter thinks there should be a David Vitter Exception to his general views on the matter. Either way, Vitter is wrong. And if Vitter wants forgiveness he should come by it honestly and bring his views in line with the way he would want, personally, to be treated.