Posted by: edshannon | July 23, 2007

Vitter’s Sin

An ethics complaint was filed on Thursday saying that Senator David Vitter should be disciplined for “improper conduct.” Vitter returned to work last week after his public confession of infidelity after his name was made public with the connection of the D.C. Madam.

Critics are calling for his resignation, citing hypocrisy according  to what he said about Bill Clinton and Bob Livingston’s moral failures. Far be it from me to defend anyone’s immorality. Maybe he should resign, but I thought that his statement was among the best that I have heard.

“Several years ago,” Vitter said, “I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there —with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.”

Is there a difference between Vitter and Clinton? No doubt both are private, moral failures, but here are a couple of differences to think about:

1. Bill Clinton still has never repented publically or acknowledged that he disappointed the American public. 2. Probably most significant, yet overlooked, is Clinton’s abuse of power.

Vitter paid for “escort services.” Escorts are people who purposefully make their living (illegally) in adultery. Normally their “clients” have no power over them or influence their futures.

Clinton, on-the-other hand, took advantage of his position. We’ll never know if Monica was starry-eyed, “wow the most powerful man on earth likes me,” or if she thought “he’s the most powerful man in the world I’d better give in to his advances.” One thing is for sure, if a military General or Commanding Officer took advantage of someone who in a subordinate position, they would be summarily fired, questions asked later.

Here’s what Vitter did right; apparently, he confessed to his priest, and wife years before the sin was made public. That’s different than getting caught (weep, weep) and saying, “I have sinned.”

I understand that some think that Vitter’s infidelity is equal to hypocrisy. They may think that his sin makes him somehow less Christian. To be sure, the Christian faith teaches strongly against infidelity; but it also teaches that when one sins, the sinner should seek to set things right, confess and seek forgiveness. And yes, God gives Christians the mercy to start over again–a little smarter this time.

I’d like all my politicians to epitomize purity and virtue; yet, I can’t stop thinking, I’d vote for a guy like Vitter. He’s not perfect, none of us are, but he seems willing to right his wrongs and that’s got to account for something.



  1. A clarification:

    “One thing is for sure, if a military General or Commanding Officer took advantage of someone who in a subordinate position, they would be summarily fired, questions asked later.”

    Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) a superior who engages in a sexual relationship with a subordinant is his or her direct chain of command will face criminal charges and could be incarcerated. Punishments include: Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.

    Also review the following site for a summary on USMJ Laws covering adultery:

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