Even Conservatives Know ‘Bitter Vitter’



David Vitter’s reputation seems to be catching up with him in ways he may never have expected. No doubt he anticipated the barrage of criticism from left-leaning blogs and news organizations, but now he’s under attack from a bastion of conservatism: The American Spectator, courtesy of New Orleans native (and former Gambit associate editor) Quin Hillyer, a veteran and respected conservative who has written for the Spectator for several years now.


Here’s a LINK to Hillyer’s online observations about “Vitter’s tirade.” In his report, Hillyer recalls his first meeting with Vitter while the Senator was still a law student, which left him with a very positive impression. He then recounts a much different impression Vitter left as a candidate for state representative in 1991 — over a perfectly innocent item that Hillyer penned in Gambit’s “Scuttlebutt” section. In the report, Hillyer recited what various candidates were doing as part of their campaign efforts. He noted that Vitter, who was emerging as the front-runner thanks to his tireless door-to-door campaigning, “blanketed every house in the district with not one but two pieces of glossy campaign literature touting his credentials and platform.”


Follow the link above to read the whole piece, but here’s the part I find most interesting:


“Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a phone call from David where he literally was yelling and occasionally cursing into my ear — so loudly that I literally had to hold the phone away from my head, about six inches from my ear — like he was absolutely unhinged. This went on for something like seven or eight minutes straight. Why was he so upset? Because, he said, my use of the word ‘glossy’ — hey, uh, David, that is a type of paper, dude, as in do you want your photos glossy or matte? — was a deliberate attempt to insinuate that he was ‘slick and insubstantial.’ How DARE I? I was a dirty, rotten, bleeping yellow journalist. Or so he yelled, or words to that effect.


“As I said, he sounded unhinged. It was truly, 100 percent bizarre. And this was from a guy for whom, if I had lived in his legislative district, I probably would have voted (before this incident) because his credentials seemed stronger than the other good and worthy candidates in the race. But he was convinced that I was out to get him. Weird. Very very very very weird, and thoroughly unpleasant.”


Again, Hillyer is a very well respected conservative journalist. He left Gambit to become Bob Livingston’s press secretary, and then returned to journalism as an editorial writer and op-ed columnist for several respected newspapers before landing a gig at the Spectator. You may not agree with his point of view on philosophical questions, but I have known Quin for almost 20 years and I can vouch for his intellectual honesty and journalistic integrity. He would not make up anything that he writes, he would always disclose any potential conflicts, and he would never slant or exaggerate a report.


As for Vitter, ever since he came to prominence in the Louisiana Legislature, I have heard the most God-awful stories about him … from his fellow Republicans. His GOP colleagues despised him even more than his Democratic rivals. Remember when he ran for Congress the first time (in 1999) against Dave Treen? In the primary, he didn’t have the endorsement of a single Republican legislative colleague from the First Congressional District. Not one. And there were plenty of them.


Ask anyone with an “R” after his or her name who served with Vitter in the Legislature, and they will confirm much more. They might not want to criticize Vitter publicly, but if they trust you they’ll tell you that the man’s got ice in his veins and that calculating duplicity, his ruthlessness — and yes, his temper — long ago earned him the nickname “Bitter Vitter.”

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