Stay Classy, Senator Vitter

Senator David Vitter (R-LA), he of DC Madam fame, is currently up for re-election and has endorsed the validity of the birther lawsuits (as OTB’s Doug Mataconis noted the other day).  Now he is making personal jokes about MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

In radio interview made the following comment in regards to Maddow’s high school yearbook photo:

MALE HOST: I wonder if Senator Vitter is ever going to post, like, maybe the video of the first time he was on the floor of the Senate. If I have to show the way I looked the first time I was on TV, you should do that too.

VITTER: We should go further back than that, how about high school yearbook?

MALE HOST: Oh yeah.

VITTER: De La Salle marching band.

MALE HOST: That’d be cool. Well you know, with Rachel Maddow they had that picture of her…

FEMALE HOST: Looking like a woman.

MALE HOST: Yeah it was really bizarre.

VITTER: [LAUGHS]: Must have been a long time ago.


Source:  WaPo’s Greg Sargent (emphasis his).  Audio here.

In the grand scheme of things, not that big of a deal and it is fair to note that the original dig came from the talk show host, not the Senator.  Still, this is a clear attack based solely on Maddow’s sexuality, which strikes me as inappropriate and low rent.

And yes, calling Rush Limbaugh fat falls into the same general category, especially if the insult is coming from a US Senator.  Vitter’s jibe strikes me as somewhat worse, as it is trying to score points based on social prejudices against homosexuals.

It also seem classless in general to point back to a person’s teenage years, when we are all trying to figure ourselves out, as a basis for poking fun—especially in the case of sexuality questions, which can be quite painful at that stage of life.

Please note:  I am a Maddow fan, nor do I watch her show.  I have seen her a handful of times as a panelists on Sunday talk shows and the like so I am familiar with her work in general.  The above simply struck me as inappropriate and when put alongside other things that Vitter has said and done, simply increases my opinion that he isn’t exactly a high character fellow.

His willingness to semi-endorse birthism and to go along with jokes about people’s appearance and sexuality also says a lot about he thinks some of his constituents want to hear/believe.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Herb says:

    What Vitter meant was that Maddow looks like a lesbian.

    But that makes his “joke” twice as dumb because, by definition, lesbians are women.

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    C’mon, he’s a rather nasty little sleaze. They don’t seem to worry about that too much down in LA so maybe he’s not going to be affected by it. We’ll see.

  3. Michael says:

    Yeah right…conservative LA is going to elect a Democrat because Vitter made a crack about a idiot leftwing commentator..Joe what alternate reality do you live in?

  4. @Michael: who said that?

  5. grampagravy says:

    Apparently, Vitter was talking to Michael. Do stay classy guys.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    Maybe the douchebag is just upset that Maddow would never put a diaper on him, the way some of the prostitutes he spent time with allegedly did…

  7. grampagravy says:

    Watch for more of these low-brow conservatives trying to bait Rachel Maddow into giving them air time. My guess is she’s too smart to be dragged into pointless dialogs with cretins looking to get their name on the air one more time. Note also that none of the bozos will show up to be interviewed by her. There’s nothing these guys hate more than fully developed, well researched rebuttals of their ridiculous positions.

  8. Liandro says:

    At least he has a primary challenger.

  9. john personna says:

    I don’t watch Maddow, other than catch bits channel hopping. She seems honest and intelligent. She does sometimes look like she’s shopped in the men’s store. I’m not sure some minor humor about that should really be surprising.

    Someone like SNL would definitely run with it in a Maddow skit.

  10. James Joyner says:

    Steven, you’re just proving that you’re a pointy headed intellectual elitist. In Real America, lesbian haircuts are very funny.