Friday, 11 April 2014 19:07

The Congressman McAllister fall and the rise of Vitter: Webcast Part I

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mcallister-vitterThe Congressman Vance McAllister elective-office career, albeit short so far, has turned into a national morality-play.

 The Republican rookie politician, shocked the congressional district, the state and the nation but obtaining the support of the Robertston clan of Duck Dynasty and then upsetting the ruling class of the GOP, who favored another candidate, one who many voters believed was being unfairly hand-picked and annointed by party bosses.

McAllister, claimed to be a man of religion and family and ran commercials emphasizing such values. , However, shortly after being sworn into office, he displayed just the opposite by being caught somehow on video, kissing and in passionate embrace a staffer, a former campaign contributor and the wife of a close friend. 

Alas, the incident became just the opportunity for the ruling class to seize upon, for McAllister was not really quacking like the GOP dynasty.  Behold, he actually favored an important plank in the Obamacare program resoundly rejected and being used by republicans nationwide, including here in the bayou.  No less than Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been hatching his run for the White House by rejecting anything and everything Obama has ever favored which included the extending medicaid as part of the Obamacare plan in providing healthcare to the poor and needy. 

As a backdrop, throughout the nation, many republicans and conservatives cried "Off with McAllister's elective-office head", "the man is not one of us", "he is a RINO", a republican-in-name-only.

Which meant, not only was he a religious hypocrite, but worse, he was a party pariah, untrusted, unworthy and totally disposable.

Thus, the GOP Chairman Roger Villere and Jindal took to the media by openly condemning McAllister, urging him to hit the road, whether high or low (didn't matter), and resign.

Chairman Villere, speaking for the party said in part, on Thursday in a released statement, "

"The Republican Party of Louisiana calls on Vance McAllister to resign his seat in Congress. Mr. 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. He has embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress. A video showing him engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of Congress, on public time, in a public office, with one of his employees, was the focus of the national press for days. I call on Mr. McAllister to put the interests of his nation, state and party above his own and step aside"

Which might be an absolutely laudible approach in maintaining party purity--if it wasn't so downright laughable.

Many, began to openly wonder, how in the world, with a straight-face, can the Republican Chairman and the party possibly use the sword of family values and morality against this public official when they turned their backs on judging another one in its flock.  Many of the same members of the same party (including Villere) allowed Senator David Vitter, to rebuild his US Senate career and launch a gubernatorial one, although his sin-of-passion has been almost universally been considered-- a sin-of-crime involving high-class ladies of the night. 

The answer is a simple one. David Vitter, also a holier-than-thouer was not a RINO true-blue but a red-in-his-veins anti-Obamaite and a U.S. Senator who was desperately needed to destroy the devil at every post.  He was one of them.  Also, had the GOP requested his resigntion, the enemy and the incompetents, Democrat Kathleen Blanco of Katrina disfame, would appoint a democratic replacement.

Therefore, Vitter's sin could be and was indeed acceptable.  He could be politically forgiven.

With this backdrop, on Thursday, Bayoubuzz held a Google Hangout webcast with Jim Brown, Lawrence Chehardy and with the reporter at the very pulse of this greek-drama, Greg Hilburn of the Monroe News Star.

At issue, was not only the question on everybody's tongues, why McAllister and not Vitter, but moreso, why and how did this new face in the congressional and republican fold become so self-destructive?  

Also, what were the facts on the ground reported by the Monroe Star and Hilburn which has put the media and the political world into another spin-the-sin frenzy?

Beyond the questions of whether the party preferred power over principle in the Vitter-McAllister dichotemy, there were and are so many unanswered questions regarding who took the videos, what were the motivations, what are the responses of the families and constituents.

Below is part one of a multi-part series, segmented from a roughly one-hour webcast interview and discussion with Hilburn, Brown, Chehardy and this writer.  Each segment includes the video and the transcript.

Sabludowsky: This is a Google Hangout Webcast, and I think we have a great program today. This is the first time we're doing this with the Morning News Star. We have Jim Brown and Lawrence Chehardy with us. We are talking about some incredible news that's breaking out here in Louisiana. Along with us is also Greg Hilburn. Why don't you tell us what's going on, Greg, and then we're going to chime in with some questions. Tell us what's going on in the "kissing congressman McAllister drama," as I like to call it. 


Hilburn: The events of the day clearly started this morning when the Republican Party of Louisiana Chairman Roger Villere issued a statement, reported in the News Star this morning, calling for congressman McAllister's resignation. Later in the day, Gov. Bobby Jindal's office also issues a statement, calling McAllister's actions an embarrassment and asking him to resign immediately.The events have been unfolding since Monday. The congressman has said that he doesn't plan to resign. I last spoke with him yesterday. He reiterated that he doesn't plan to resign. Of course, it's clear that the pressure is being put on him even heavier now. That's where we are at this point. Today, I received a response from the congressman by text, but he has kind of gone dark today, at least for me. That's where we are right now. 

Brown: So let me get this straight, Greg. We have a very colorful group of politicians who have been accused of all types of philandering, such as dealing with prostitutes. We also have the reputation of Edwin Edwards, and now there’s this congressman getting caught in the kiss. All of a sudden, all the people who were against him when he first ran for office are calling for him to resign. The Republican Party establishment was all for his opponent, State Sen. Neil Riser from Northeast Louisiana. Bobby Jindal's entire campaign operation was against McAllister. Now these people are just appalled and they're all calling for McAllister's resignation. I don't mean to defend the congressman or condone anything he did, but anyone who says there's not a lot of politics in play here, is not being realistic. I'm an outsider, just like the other two fellows here, and I'd like for you to comment on this. You have all these people in play, and there's a lot of agenda beyond what the congressman did or did not do. Do you agree with that? 

Hilburn: It's not really in my place to agree, disagree, or comment on that. I can tell you what events I see and have reported on. There are conspiracy theories out there, as there were when congressman Alexander abruptly resigned in August and the election race began. I leave it up to others to speculate. But there are certainly a lot of storylines. For example, accusations have been made that McAllister's Monroe district manager leaked the video. 

Sabludowsky: Follow up on that, please. Do you have information in terms of who leaked it? Are there any facts, admissions, anything like that? 

Hilburn: The office manager, Leah Gordon, has not returned my calls. The congressman's chief of staff, as well as the building owner - the congressman leases office space from Bill Land, an architect - said that the only people with access to that security camera were the two of them, as well as Land's employee. They said it was only three people with access to that security camera. Bill Land and his employee have gone on record with me and said they would be glad to do a polygraph test to clear their names. 

Sabludowsky: Are there any other possible people out there? Whoever did this was shooting the screen of the security camera with their own camera, right? 

Hilburn: That's my understanding. Bill Land told me that the Ms. Gordon had frequently been asking for access to the locked room in which the security system is. He said that she told him that they had a problem with theft. The congressman's chief of staff never mentioned a theft problem. So that's what I know from the landlord. 

Sabludowsky: Right here on the screen, we have three attorneys: Jim Brown, Lawrence, and myself. I'm bewildered. Lawrence? 

Chehardy: I think Jim hit the nail right on the head. All the hue and cry about the congressman about resigning is coming from all the people who didn't support him during the last election. He was not the sanctioned candidate by the Republican Party. He's not the person that they wanted; Sen. Riser was the one. Now, these people are calling for the congressman to step aside. It does take away, in my opinion, some of the sincerity of the party and the politicians saying that they want him to do the right thing. I find it very ironic that Democrats who lost in the primary are calling for him to resign. But after all, it's expected, since they lost to him in the election. Whether or not the congressman decides to resign is certainly his decision; it should be a decision that he and his family make. He should try to see what the people in the district want. Whether they want to see him step aside or not should be their decision, and not that of a bunch of politicians. 

Brown: The fifth congressional district is the redneck Bible belt. No offense; I'm from the area myself. I ran for that district in 1978 and lost by a handful of votes to the incumbent Jerry Huckabee. I've been all over that district. It's very conservative. The biggest issue I had during my eight years as Senator was when LaSalle parish, a part of the fifth district, was planning a high school dance. I put it on  the ballot for the parish to vote for it. By five to one, they said "no dance." That shows you how conservative it is. Now, they have the attention of not only the state but also the entire nation. It's been on NBC and CBS, so it has caught a lot of attention. 

Sabludowsky: From no dancing to plenty of kissing. Let me ask you this, Lawrence, because Jim brought it up. Let's put some names together in terms of Jefferson Parish, where we both live. One of the players out here is, of course, Roger Villere, chairperson of the Louisiana Republican Party. He's a good friend of us and someone I respect a lot. Obviously, he's feeling a lot of pressure. Another person from Jefferson parish, with whom I do not agree that much, is David Vitter. I know that there are a lot of people who are wondering why in the world the Republicans are blasting this guy for kissing when Vitter admitted a horrible sin. The allegation was, of course, prostitution. The Democrats has come out with an email saying that they're really happy that they have gone ahead and requested Vitter's resignation. But of course, they're kidding. I'm wondering, isn't this the ultimate hypocrisy? 

Chehardy: It's also the ultimate in politics. It's all politics. What you usually see though, when a member of the opposite party does something that is egregious, the opposing party will call for a resignation or a big investigation. You're correct, Steve; what Vitter confessed to was certainly more egregious than what congressman McAllister is seen doing on tape. So there is a double standard to a certain extent. How you answer that is best addressed to the those people who were more silent in the past but are very vocal today. 

Brown: It is a little different. First of all, Vitter's admittance was for something that happened four or five years earlier. There was that time span. It was still a huge problem for him. Other politicians tried to make something out of it, but it didn't work out. The time frame plays in Vitter's favor. The second thing is, when you're caught on video like that people might think that it was just a peck on the cheek or a little kiss on the lips. But if you look at the video, it goes on and on and on. The video is just so overwhelming, and I think the emotions play out a lot more in this case than in the Vitter case.

Sabludowsky: Well, the issue is morality; that's my understanding of the way in which Roger Villere couched his letter asking for McAllister's resignation. It was the outrage of the act. You cannot, in my view, be so outraged by somebody's act, whether it happened two, four, or ten years ago.

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