Sabludowsky: Bernie, let me ask you this. Obviously, there is a tremendous controversy right now surrounding the man supported by Duck Dynasty; representative Vance McAllister. I'm look at some news right now. Before we get into the news story, what is going on here? Is it crazy, or is it just Louisiana politics?
Pinsonat: It's not Louisiana politics; it happens frequently in Congress and occasionally in the Senate. Congressmen sex scandals, most often involving men, are not unusual. There is a lot of coverage and fascination. People ask how this guy can be so politically stupid. What made it worse was the fact that his campaign was based on his belief in God and practice of religion. He was going to be a totally different congressman going to Washington. It was outsider campaign that railed against what was going on in Washington. He said that his faith was going to make him a great congressman. It turns out not to be true.
Sabludowsky: That's business as usual. He was caught with his pants down. Why don't you fill us in on the story?
Pinsonat: A few days before Christmas, McAllister is hugging, embracing, and kissing one of his employees, which was caught on a security camera tape. It emerged and ended up in the Ouachita Citizen newspaper up around Monroe. All hell broke loose as the story became national news in a matter of hours. There are huge implications for the Republican Party. A US Senator election is coming up. The Republicans have struggled with how to deal with this. The state party is calling for his resignation, and so does Gov. Jindal. Everybody is amazed by how he could be so stupid to be caught in this embarrassing episode, especially since he ran on Christian values. He had the Duck Dynasty family behind him. It went from bad to worse. Right now, he's in the bunker mode. He's not responding to media requests because he doesn't want to answer questions. Everybody is after him, trying to get him out of office so they can minimize the damage at a time when the Republicans are trying to unseat Mary Landrieu. Having him around is like having a bad step-uncle who's causing all sorts of problems.
Sabludowsky: Sure. Let me give you the news. According to The Hill, McAllister owns an event production company that's affiliated with the former staffer whom he kissed on the video. McAllister's Promotions list Mrs. Peacock, the married former staffer he kissed, on the contact page. Let's take a quick call from the Flaming Liberal.
Flaming Liberal: My comment will fit in like a Michael Jackson glove with the conversation regarding McAllister. I have a column online on righthandthief.blogspot.com. It's my May 21, 2010 column in which I present overwhelming evidence that David Vitter at his 2007 press conference. It's replete with Youtube videos, articles, documents, and columns. I'll get back to that in a second, but I'd like to bring this to your attention: on July 25, 2002, on this program, Ringside Politics, I challenged David Vitter to sign an affidavit he's never known, met, or been in the company of Wendy Cortez and he's never had sex outside of his marriage. His response was, and I quote, "those rumors are absolutely true." If you're in doubt, go to my column. There's a Youtube video that will let you hear that very phone conversation. The conversation was played in 2007 on MSNBC TV for Larry Flynt of Hustler Magazine and Wendy Cortez, David Vitter's French Quarter prostitute. After I challenged Vitter to sign this affidavit, he later on went on to call Vincent Bruno, the man who originally made the allegation that Vitter had a moral failing on a statewide talk show, Louisiana Live, a thug and a liar. If you go my column, there is a letter of apology to Vincent Bruno, delivered by a courier, signed by Sen. Vitter. In the letter, he apologizes to Bruno after Bruno threatened to sue Vitter if he would not apologize. Given the bad feelings between Bruno and Vitter, I don't think for a second that Vitter would have apologized to Bruno, had he not feared being under oath in a court of law. Vitter, on his press conference - there's a Youtube link to this, as well - said nothing happened in New Orleans. Why did he apologize to Vincent Bruno, then? I'd like to bring up another point. I have a dear friend with whom I worked at a steamship company for years who died an agonizing, painful death from AIDS. Wendy Cortez admitted that she was a drug user when she was working as a prostitute. Vitter slept with a drug using prostitute with the mother of his children at risk of dying from an agonizing, fatal disease. Vitter is a monster, and that's why Louisiana is just about last in everything. I have more respect for dog stuff that I've stepped in than an individual who is a liar, a whoremonger, and has no feelings for the mother of his children and his family and the people he represents. He violated the oath of his office and being an officer of the court, the man overwhelmingly committed numerous felonies. If Jindal and Villere, they want McAllister to resign, isn’t it gold-plated olympic chutzpah not to call for Vitter to resign?
Sabludowsky: I'm familiar with all these claims and allegations. To me, the broader issue concerning the McAllister case right now is, are we dealing with political hypocrisy here? Jindal and Villere, on behalf of the Louisiana Republican Party, are going after congressman McAllister, urging that he resigns. They were not there, say, in 2007. They have had plenty of time to do the same regarding Vitter. They still have an opportunity now.
Pinsonat: I'm not going to say that it's not hypocritical, but there is a major difference. McAllister is on video. Vitter had a couple of years left. He wasn't affecting anyone's election within four-five months. In Villere's defense: you can say that he's a hypocrite, but you can also say that if I were running the party, I would want the guy out of there. He's a distraction. When you're running political campaigns, you try to remove anything that can distract the candidates' ability to win. That's what they're trying to do. All of the things related to Vitter was aired on radio, and Vitter still won. The people of Louisiana chose to reelected him and not pay attention to that. Whatever it was, it ended up not being a major factor in his reelection. He was easily reelected. Sure, there's some hypocrisy in the McAllister case. The caller from Atlanta is condemning Louisiana, but I could say the same things about Massachusetts. Please don't tell me that we're unique in Louisiana. It's everywhere; it's our human failings. We have politicians to look up to, but they are now different than everyone else. They make bad, stupid, or even criminal mistakes. These mistakes can hurt a lot of people, including their families. I'm not taking up for Vitter, but if you look at polls, he's the most popular statewide elected official in the state. I'm not saying it's right, but these are the numbers and facts.
Sabludowsky: There's no question that those are the facts. However, let me throw this out there. When Villere asked for McAllister's resignation, his statement was: "McAllister's extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation." So far, we're talking about a breach of trust requiring resignation. Villere went on to say: "He has embarrassed our party, the state, and the institution of Congress." I understand that, but it has nothing to do with the upcoming election. He didn't mention the upcoming election. He said: "The video showing him engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of Congress in a public office and with one of his employees was the focus of the national press for days. I call on McAllister to put the interests of his nation, state, and party first and step aside. On behalf of the GOP, Villere is talking about morality and ethics. That's the reasons he is giving. He's not talking about the fact that McAllister has a different opinion than Gov. Jindal on Medicaid expansion. Why didn't Villere do that? Why didn't he say, "we don't like this guy; we disagree with him; he's going the wrong way politically; and now that he has messed up, he needs to go." That would have been the honest thing for him to do. Instead, he talks about morality. If you're talking about morality, you ought to be consistent with regard to David Vitter, too.
Pinsonat: Everybody is pointing to the fact that McAllister took a different position on Medicaid expansion. First of all, the party chairman has access to the polls that show that McAllister's position on Medicaid did not hurt his election. Anybody in politics recognizes that he did that and that it paid off for him. Heads of parties, whether it's the Republicans or the Democrats, recognize the strengths and weaknesses of these people. If you have a congressman who was elected, you know that he's there. I don't think McAllister went to Washington and became a flaming liberal and voted with President Obama. I don't buy the Medicaid argument. Villere certainly knows that McAllister's position on Medicaid was sufficiently popular among his voters. It didn't hurt him; it probably helped him. This is about an election that is very big for Louisiana and the Republicans. Are we going to keep a Democratic Senator, or are we going to go all red and elect a Republican? Villere's primary purpose now is to beat Mary Landrieu. There is hypocrisy all over the place in this, but it's part of the political process. That's the system we have. You can criticize it, and you're probably right, but they're doing what they think will help them win the election, and they've been very successful for the last six years.
Sabludowsky: We have a caller, James in Metairie.
James: Louisiana's performance indicators of education, healthcare, and incarceration are among the lowest in the country. Things are not going to change here until these aging babyboomers, especially the white, conservative males, go to their graves. They will be replaced by better, higher quality, and better educated people. A recent article talked about New Orleans being one of the brainiest cities in the country. Now, I checked Bayoubuzz, and I didn't see what I was looking for concerning McAllister and Villere. I'm looking at a webpage from Christopher Tidmore. This was April 12. According to Tidmore, Villere - and I'm reading right from Tidmore's page - attempted to call McAllister at his home, at his office, and on his cell phone, repeatedly asking him to call back regarding an urgent matter. Soon thereafter, McAllister's chief of staff Adam Terry called back, asking what Villere wanted. According to Tidmore's sources, Villere replied that the matter was between himself and the congressman. Terry continued to ask him why, and Villere finally said that he was going to ask McAllister to resign. Then, reportedly, Terry hung up and called back Villere. He began to threaten Villere that he and McAllister would expose the affair of other elected Republican officials in the state. Steve, have you heard about this?
Sabludowsky: No, I have not. Did he have anybody in mind?
James: I don't know. I'm sure there are too many to count. Anyway, it's on Tidmore's website. I'd like to get your reaction to this incident.
Sabludowsky: I haven't read the article, so it's difficult to me to respond. I will say this: on Bayoubuzz last week, Jim Brown, Lawrence Chehardy and I had a discussion with the reporter who has been breaking all these articles up in Monroe. You can listen and watch the video interview and discussion we had on Bayoubuzz.com. The reporter, Greg Hilburn, goes into a tremendous amount of details on what happened and the facts that he has been able to uncover. In order to respond to your question, I would have to read Tidmore's article.
(Image: Bernie Pinsonat)