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Boy, some Republican senator with ... let's call it an ethically checkered past, sure has some thin skin when that past is recalled by his colleagues. Yes, it's Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who has been holding up a perfectly noncontroversial energy bill in the Senate—something that the Senate could agree on and actually pass—with an unrelated, mean-spirited and completely political amendment that would take Obamacare subsidies away from members of Congress and their staff, an amendment Republican staffers oppose because it would make their health insurance so expensive, they might not be able to keep their jobs.
Democrats, in a completely uncharacteristic hardball response, drafted an amendment to take away health care subsidies for any member who had given "probable cause" they solicited prostitutes. Which made Vitter go absolutely unhinged with a bizarre ethics complaint against Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a Democrat he has worked very productively with in the past.
Vitter has asked for an ethics investigation into Reid and Boxer, who is the chairwoman of the Select Committee on Ethics. He wants a probe into another Democratic proposal to deny Obamacare subsidies to lawmakers that back Vitter’s Obamacare amendment, even if it fails.
“Senator Reid and Boxer have apparently led an effort to employ political scare tactics, personal attacks and threats that would affect each Senator’s personal finances (i.e. bribery),” Vitter wrote in his letter requesting an investigation.
“All he accomplished was another round of stories bringing up his own ethics issues. You have to wonder what he was thinking,” said a Senate Democratic aide. [...]
But it remains unclear why Boxer was named in Vitter’s letter and Vitter aides wouldn’t say, declining to respond to phone calls and emails. Boxer’s staff pleads ignorance, too. Meanwhile, the dust-up has become the talk of the Hill, with aides shaking their heads at how quickly things spiraled out of control between the two lawmakers.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said one House GOP aide.
I don't think anyone has ever accused Vitter of overthinking any issue, but this one is just bizarre, attacking Boxer for no apparent reason on a quest that will only hurt congressional employees—Republican and Democratic. It could be that Vitter is just trying to steal some of the Ted Cruz anti-Obamacare limelight, trying to one up him on crazy, destructive politics. But Vitter just isn't smart enough to realize it's self-destructive politics.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM PDT.