Hush, Hush, Sweet GOP

Republican members of Congress might want to think before they speak

One way for Republicans to be taken seriously again? Just shut up!

Sen. David Vitter? Please shut up!

Talk about teeing oneself up for a "Saturday Night Live" "Really?" segment. Can there be a more ridiculous person to demand Sen. Roland Burris' resignation than Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana? I mean, really. Yes, that's right: David ("One hooker in the district and another in Washington, D.C.") Vitter announced on Tuesday that the Blagojevich-tainted Burris was no longer credible and needed to resign his office. Give the man credit for chutzpah. But, let's step back a little bit.

If there's one state that is always in the running with Illinois for a history of institutionalized corruption, it would have to be Louisiana. Give credit to Gov. Bobby Jindal: He might not give a great speech, but at least he's trying to clean up the Pelican State's ethical mess. So, right there, you've got a problem of a representative of one state with ethical issues presuming to lecture a member from a state with equally poor reputation.

But, again, this is David Vitter. He managed to escape legal jeopardy even though he was mentioned in late D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey's telephone book and named as a client by New Orleans hooker Wendy Cortez (who revealed his alleged diaper fetish). Vitter, however, may seal his own fate: He's being challenged from all sides: Both Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and porn star Stormy Daniels have hinted that they plan on going after Vitter's, uh, seat.  

Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning? Yes, he should hush it too.

The Hall of Fame pitcher barely won re-election in 2004 because of health and perceived age-related issues. Well, he's going to be in a similar situation if he has another public appearance like last week's Lincoln Day dinner. Yes, the senator is conservative. Especially when it comes to judicial appointments. Yes, he's concerned over who President Obama might appoint to the Supreme Court. But did he have to appear so eager to discuss Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her "bad" pancreatic cancer -- "the kind you don't recover from"? Bunning later apologized, but the damage was done. Openly discussing the health of Supreme Court justices is bad form under any circumstances. But speculating over how long one of them might be alive?

And then there's Rep. Pete Sessions? Dummy up, pal.

Earlier this month, the Texas Republican declared that the House minority party would borrow tactics from an unlikely source:

"Insurgency we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban ... And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."

Okay, so he's not supposed to be taken literally. But, really, how do you compare political combat with the enemy your own military is fighting in a foreign country -- and favorably compare your own side to the enemy? It's not just unwise; it's stupid.

Once upon a time, a member of Congress in the minority got a free pass. The media barely paid attention to what the minority said -- especially the backbenchers. Those members could be bomb-throwers (figuratively speaking, Mr. Sessions, figuratively speaking) and not worry that their words would be picked up.

That's not the case anymore. With 24/7 cable stations and an Internet beast that demands to be fed, members have to be careful. Their words have meaning and the entire world has ears.

So, just remember what your mom told you when you were growing up: If you don't have anything good to say, keep your mouth shut.

Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.

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