This has not been a good week for Republicans if they have wanted to press their family values theme.

Advice: Put it on ice for a while.

First, New Orlean’s GOPer Senator David Vitter gets linked to the so-called D.C. Madam.

And now (THIS JUST IN) Florida State Rep. Robert “Bob” Allen is enmeshed in a sex scandal for soliciting a male police officer.

We will absolutely resist making the cheap joke that — if these allegations are true — perhaps Vitter did to an escort what he has now done to his constituents and to the Presidential campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Vitter was a leading figure who often talked about the importance of embracing morality and family values. It turns out he was apparently embracing more than that:

“I’m a conservative who opposes radically redefining marriage, the most important social institution in human history,” Mr. Vitter, a 46-year-old Republican, wrote in a letter last year to The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans daily.

That self-created image, a political winner here since 1991, when Mr. Vitter joined the Louisiana House, took a tumble Monday with the disclosure that his phone number was among those on a list of client numbers kept by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, who is accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington.

Mr. Vitter admitted Monday night to a “very serious sin in my past,” and talk radio and coffee shops here buzzed all day Tuesday with the front-page news, even as the senator remained out of sight. But the fallout was far bigger than local: his admission is also a blow to the presidential campaign of Rudolph W. Giuliani, for whom he is Southern campaign chairman.

Mr. Vitter, an uncompromising foe of abortion, same-sex marriage and the immigration compromise that died in the Senate in June, was supposed to be Mr. Giuliani’s ambassador to a region with large numbers of social conservatives suspicious of the candidate’s moderate views. His viability in that role is now in doubt with his acknowledgment that his number was already in the phone records of Pamela Martin & Associates before he ran for the Senate in 2004.

The woman at the head of the company, Ms. Palfrey, contends that it was a legitimate escort service before being shut down last year. Federal prosecutors say it was a prostitution ring, and a State Department official, Randall L. Tobias, resigned in April with the disclosure that he had been a client.

Meanwhile, perhaps Allen’s constituents will feel that the accusation against him means he did his job representing them in a way similar to the specific act that he’s accused of having offered to do:

Titusville police say they have arrested Florida State Rep. Robert “Bob” Allen, of Merrit Island, on second degree misdemeanor charges for solicitation for prostitution.

Allen, 48, was arrested Wednesday afternoon at Veteran’s Memorial Park on East Broad St. in Titusville. The park was under surveillance by a detail of undercover police officers.

Officers say they noticed Allen acting suspicious as he went in and out of the men’s restroom 3 times. Minutes later, he solicited an undercover male officer inside the restroom, offering to perform oral sex for $20. Officers realized he was a public figure after the arrest.

Vitter was working on Giuliani’s campaign. Allen was working for Arizona Senator John McCain’s.

Do these scandals matter?

In terms of immediate political viability, politicos have survived sex scandals before (for instance, Democrats Barney Frank and, in somewhat downsized form, Bill Clinton). So perhaps Vitter and Allen can put these events behind them, move on and retain their positions.

But taken together these are rabbit punches to the Republican Party’s carefully cultivated image of a party more moral than the Democrats.

It could further raise the eyebrows of social conservatives. And it creates the image of a party in disarray that has some folks who loudly talk one game of morality but quietly play another.

Republicans in recent years, far more than the Democrats, have presented themselves as representing a more socially “moral” and politically-principled kind of philosophy and governance — one that was supposed to be values-based. But it’s turning out that rhetoric is not matching reality.

If the Democrats don’t seem to be able to get their act together, the Republicans on several fronts are coming across as having an act. Literally.

For instance, President George Bush, in 2000 talked about “compassionate conservatism,” the importance of avoiding nation building, smaller government, and being a “uniter not a divider.” Things have not quite worked out that way. Except for his promise of more conservative Supreme Court judges, Bush’s 2000 pronouncements didn’t outline the kind of administration that was to come — one that pressed for huge expansion of the federal government, seemingly brushed aside dealing with Congress and recognizing its legitimacy, and determined to not just nation-build, but region-build the whole Middle East.

The news reports about the sex scandals are cumulative: bad news out of Iraq, defiance of Congress, reports of more “inaccurate” testimony from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and now sex scandals. None of this is good news for Republicans up for re-election in 2008 — a year that now seems it’ll be marked by voters seeking a relief from Bush and Republican administration fatigue.

PS: Democrats shouldn’t be smiling. Some Democratic names could soon emerge, too, because Vitter’s alleged escapades came to light due to porn king and freedom of speech and freedom of the press activist Larry Flynt…who is looking at more names:

Larry Flynt, the porn-industry magnate who first linked Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) to the escort service of the “D.C. Madam,” said Wednesday that his investigators are tracking more than 20 leads on alleged congressional sex scandals.

…The 20-plus new leads, Flynt said, come from the newspaper ad and not Palfrey. The Hustler publisher, arrested and jailed multiple times during his decades-long career, vowed to provide clear proof and only out lawmakers whom he perceives to be hypocrites.

“You guys always know, [from] the past, I deliver,” Flynt said. “And if I fail to, the mainstream media will crush me like a bug.”

The Hill’s report omits something Flynt (who is a Democrat) said to a reporter for KFI radio in L.A.: he is NOT just looking at Republicans. Some Democrats are on the list as well.

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • kritter

    The truth is the Republicans have long presented a fake moral front to please the religious right that has taken hold of their party. The Democrats do not have such constraints, and so at least are not guilty attempting to sanctify marriage or promote abstinence only programs while destroying the institution in private. That doesn’t excuse adultery or the risk of spreading social diseases that comes from visiting prostitutes, but the hypocrisy level IS lower.

    We need a government that will worry about the real problems that are facing middle-class America- and not concentrate on the war on Christianity, the inevitability of premarital sex among young people or the death blow that homosexual unions will deal to the institution of marriage.

  • AustinRoth

    I have a slightly different take. Republican voters hold their leaders to higher moral standards than Democratic voters.

    That leads to both the need to be a hypocrite if you want to run as a Republican, but have peccadilloes (as most of us do), and the subsequent rejection by the voters and the party when caught violating those mores.

    Democrats are unburdened as a whole by such limits. Heck, they can get caught with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in a freezer or steering government contracts to their friends a relatives without fear of losing their office or committee appointments, it seems.

  • kritter

    ‘I have a slightly different take. Republican voters hold their leaders to higher moral standards than Democratic voters.’

    If that’s true, why was Tom Delay reelected so many times? Why did Bob Ney serve in Congress even AFTER his guilty plea? Why were conservatives pushing for a full pardon for Scooter Libby after his felony convictions? Whatta joke!

  • AustinRoth

    Tom Delay was never re-elected after his indictments, and in fact resigned the Majority Leader position when indicted, and then didn’t run for re-election.

    Bob Ney resigned 2 1/2 weeks after the guilty plea. Hardly ‘serving’, but true he didn’t resign as quickly as he should have.

    Scooter was never elected to any office, and that just occurred, so any fallout is not yet known.

    So, now provide the list of Democrats that fell on their swords when confronted with proof of their malfeasances.

  • Jim B

    Pelosi asked Jefferson to step down, he declined and tried to offer some terms, she then declined those. Then when he wouldn’t step down they removed him from his committee – ways and means.

    Thought it was roughly mid June when the Dem caucus removed him from the ways/means committee. I think it had to go to a house vote as well, and it was 99-48 or something like that to remove him.

    Now on the part about voters holding their representatives to a higher moral standard, I think that depends on where you are. Seems to me most of the time when sexual misconduct is found, the perp tends to fade away and not run again.
    I think we could go all day discussing which side is more corrupt/immoral, but after a while it would really just be a draw. Both sides cover for themselves (foley anyone? condit anyone?), and that won’t change until we have wholesale changes at the top.

  • kimrit

    AR- Since Republicans hold their politicians to a much higher standard (which I still find debatable) are you calling for Sen Vitter to offer up his resignation? He’s probably in rehab, by now, claiming his past problems were caused by alcholism!

  • AustinRoth

    Jim B – and what are Jefferson and Murtha doing these days, hmmm?

    kimrit – Yes.

  • kritter

    AR- Now if I were a Republican I wouldn’t have commented on this thread. Because then I’d have to hear about investigations of Dennis Hastert, Ted Stevens, Rick Renzi, Jerry Lewis and John Doolittle. All are still in office. Now several of these officials are mixed up in Abramoff and Cunningham, but there has been some delay due to turnover of prosecutors under the Bush administration’s DOJ.

  • Sam

    The big names of the GOP(and the chistian right as well to some extent) has a long track record of not just talking about morality but wanting to legislate it as well. Meanwhile many of their most vocal folks on the topic obviously don’t live up to the same standards in their private lives. I’m thinking Newt, Rush, Foley, Haggert, Allen, Vitter, these are people that make their moral values a cornerstone of their politics, as a club to beat over the head of those who disagree with them on any issue.

    To me the type of moral virtues espoused by these men isn’t even relevant to their effectiveness as leaders. I’d much rather they espouse important civic virtues like honesty, integrity, wisdom, and a sense that its possible to blend both freedom and laws for the common good. But you never hear such men talk of those things because they are too busy pushing peoples buttons to manipulate them with issues far less important than whats really going on behind closed doors.

  • kritter

    I agree, Sam. The GOP knows it can’t offer middle-American white voters anything economically, so they pander to their socially conservative values on abortion, flag-burning, gay marriage and putting God back into the public square. Yet many of them, like Vitter, can talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk, since they’re in reality no more moral than the rest of us sinners.

  • Jim B

    AR – I assume you are referring to the abscam thing w/ Murtha.
    So, I shall see your Murtha and raise you a McCain (S&L).
    I’m not that great at poker, and my political history is pretty weak as I’ve only really been following politics for a few years.

  • Bones_708

    OK everyone knows we are talking about a small time state politician right?

  • AustinRoth

    No, I for Murtha I was referring to the new evidence of him steering contracts to cronies and families in the past 2 -3 years.

    Ancient history is just that.