VITTER’S OFFICE WEIGHS IN ON BARDWELL…. Louisiana’s Keith Bardwell refuses to perform marriage ceremonies for inter-racial couples. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) have called on him to resign. Sen. David Vitter (R) has remained conspicuously silent on the matter.
The good news is, the far-right senator’s office has finally commented. The bad news is, the comment didn’t improve matters. In fact, it’s arguably worse now.
Yesterday, blogger-activist Mike Stark asked Vitter directly for his thoughts on the matter. Stark asked, “Have you commented? What did you have to say about it?” Vitter smiled before disappearing into an elevator.
Greg Sargent spoke to Vitter spokesperson Joel DiGrado, who said:
“First, Sen. Vitter thinks that all judges should follow the law as written and not make it up as they go along. Second, it would be amazing for anyone to do a story based on this fringe, left-wing political hack’s blog — he’s been handcuffed and detained in the past over his guerrilla tactics.”
First, Mike Stark isn’t the problem here. He asked a fair, legitimate question, which Vitter inexplicably ducked.
Second, given David Vitter’s notorious background, his office should probably avoid casual references to handcuffs.
And third, a justice of the peace is flagrantly violating civil rights laws and using blatant racism to justify his decisions. Vitter “thinks that all judges should follow the law as written and not make it up as they go along”? That’s nice, though the second part of that sentence is irrelevant, and the first part of that sentence neglected to express any disagreement with what Bardwell has done. Does Vitter think Bardwell is right or wrong?
This actually has the potential to become a real problem for the senator, and it’s the easiest controversy in the world to avoid. Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican, made it easy for Vitter and gave him plenty of political cover. And yet, Vitter doesn’t want to criticize Bardwell, doesn’t want to call for his resignation, and apparently doesn’t even want to comment on stopping inter-racial marriages.
Vitter has nothing to lose here — the Republican base already knows how far-right he is, and it’s not like anyone’s going to call him a “moderate” for condemning transparent racism.
We’ll see if major news outlets pick up on this, but if they do, it’s a story with potential. It has the benefit of not being complicated: a right-wing senator refuses to denounce a racist justice of the peace in his home state.
Update: MSNBC did a segment on the Vitter story this afternoon. David Schuster noted that MSNBC has contacted Vitter’s office three times for comment, but the senator hasn’t responded.
VIDEO: GOP Sen. Ducks Question On Interracial Couple’s Marriage, [Updated 10.21.09 at 4:45 p.m.]
Earlier this month, Louisiana Justice of Peace Keith Bardwell refused to perform a marriage for an interracial couple, on the grounds that society has a problem “accepting a child from such marriage.” Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) called for Bardwell’s removal immediately following the incident; however, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has been noticeably silent on the matter.
Blogger-activist Mike Stark pressed Vitter on the Judge Bardwell’s widely-condemned actions Tuesday, saying, “I’ve read that you are the only senior official from Louisiana not to have commented on the judge that refused to marry an inter-racial couple.”
The Louisiana Senator dismissively responded, “I don’t think that’s the case,” and walked into an elevator.
Stark says, “Vitter looked at me and smiled, silently… and waited for the elevator doors to close.”