Our two terrible Senators.
From a partisan standpoint, of course, this represents a net loss for the Republicans in the Senate, as Louisiana's Democratic Governor will assuredly appoint a Democrat to replace the Republican Vitter. But Louisiana is trending Republican, so the seat will be made good in time; and more important, it's the right thing to do. One of the many baleful effects of the Clinton years was the promulgation of the idea that character, and especially sexual propriety, is irrelevant to one's public life. This is utterly false, and it is profoundly disappointing to see Republicans, caught in scandals of their own making, resorting to this left-wing trope.
This does not mean that we ought to be dour, relentless, unforgiving, or prudish in our assessment of public figures. People err, people sin, and yes, people break the law. (I'll admit to all three, although not all at once!) This is merely to be human: even if my mistakes differ in kind, I cannot claim to be a better man than our two terrible Senators. But when we sin, we are called upon to repent, to confess, to make amends, and to accept consequences. We are furthermore liable for the offices and the stations we seek. There is no evidence that Craig or Vitter have done any of these things, and certainly not by the lights of a United States Senator. It is, admittedly, a lot to ask of a man to do them in public -- but we know that Craig, at least, sought to use his office to avoid the law, having shown his Senatorial business card to the arresting officer, so our sympathy should be limited on that count.
In the end, these are men to whom we entrust a Constitutional office, and those offices should be filled by men of character. If Craig and Vitter were truthful, forthright, and penitent, it would be one thing. But they are not. And thus, they should go