Louisiana Senator David Vitter is facing criticism over his apparent unwillingness to speak out against a justice of the peace who refused a marriage license to an interracial couple.
After several days of political pressure on the Republican senator to condemn the actions of Keith Bardwell, a Hammond, Louisiana, justice of the peace, Vitter's spokespeople released a statement on Wednesday that declared the senator "thinks that all judges should follow the law as written and not make it up as they go along," according to Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent.
For many observers, the vagueness of the statement -- neither Bardwell nor the issue of interracial marriage was mentioned -- has raised as many questions as it has answered.
Both Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and US Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have condemned Bardwell's actions and words. Jindal has called for the justice's dismissal, while Landrieu, a conservative Democrat, condemned Bardwell's decision as "an example of the ugly bigotry that divided our country for too long."
On Tuesday, blogger Mike Stark at The Crooked Dope posted a short video of Vitter silently stepping into an elevator and smiling as he was questioned about his views on Bardwell. The video, which can be viewed below, made Vitter the subject of intense scrutiny with respect to his views on race.
Political observers are wondering whether Vitter sees some political benefit to staying quiet on the Bardwell controversy.
"Apparently some of us are awfully worried about losing the votes of southern racists," quipped John Aravosis at AmericaBlog.
"David Vitter's failure to condemn Keith Bardwell says all you need to know about David Vitter," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement. "To compensate for his own experience, Vitter has moved fast and furiously to the fringe of his party and is now squarely outside of the Louisiana mainstream."
The DSCC statement appears to refer to the sex scandal in which Vitter has been embroiled for the past two years. In 2007, Vitter was outed as a client of the "DC Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who was convicted in 2008 on charges relating to her prostitution business.
Keith Bardwell became the subject of intense controversy last week when news reports revealed he had refused to grant an interracial couple a wedding license because he believed that it would harm the bi-racial offspring of such marriages.
Bardwell has since said he is not a racist, and will not resign.
The following video was posted to YouTube by blogger Mike Stark on Tuesday, October 21, 2009.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/fbbgJwtFxWE&hl=en&fs=1 expand=1]