Vitter goes all in

Denies New Orleans brothel allegations, refuses to take questions.

I expected David Vitter’s press conference today to be mostly grovelling, with some attacks on the press thrown in. No such. Apparently Vitter denied all the New Orleans allegations &#8212 he’d already admitted the DC allegations &#8212 but refused to take any questions. Mrs. Vitter decided to do a Hillary Clinton rather than a Lorena Bobbit after all. (Thanks to all of you who sent steak knives.)

This seems puzzling. Assume for the moment the accusations are true, which seems likely given that both the madam and the sex worker have gone public with their allegations. (The fact that the madam seems to be something of a fan of Vitter increases both the general weirdness and her credibility.) What does Vitter gain by admitting one “sin” but denying the others?

The only theory that comes to mind is the Vitter already went on record in 2004 denying the charges, and figures he can get away with buying disgustingly kinky commercial sex but not with having lied to the press and the voters. But if he gets nailed now on the Canal Street charges, I’d guess that he’d be more or less finished. In the age of DNA testing, he’s at huge risk if the story about his having a natural child by one of the Canal Street madam’s employees turns out to be true.

For now, his refusal to answer any questions doesn’t look to me like a good sign about his veracity. Perhaps he’s just stalling for time, planning to resign next year when a Republican governor would probably be able to appoint his replacement.

Update Oyster at the Louisiana politics blog Your Right Hand Thief thinks that Vitter has gone all-in on a busted flush, and that someone is certain to call:

This statement virtually guarantees that Vitter will be forced to resign sometime this year, probably in weeks, as more disclosures occur and corroborative evidence is unveiled. He can’t lie his way out of this. What Vitter’s seemingly implying &#8212that his sinful “actions” occurred only in D.C.&#8212 is so utterly ridiculous based on what I know that I can’t believe he’s trying to get away with it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: