The Rage and the Derp

Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Sen. David Vitter, R-La., speaks to reporters after his debate against Democratic candidate John Bel Edwards, in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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An amazing little story developing down in Louisiana, one that could tell us a lot about the political salience of the current Syrian refugee hysteria. With his history finally catching up with him, Sen. David Vitter looked like he was heading to near certain defeat in the Louisiana gubernatorial election. His prostitute history got kicked back into the center of the campaign, he got caught having a private eye spy on a prominent Republican sheriff, the polls began to collapse and prominent state Republicans began to abandon him in favor of his Democratic opponent.

The polls still show Vitter clearly behind. But he’s latched on to Syrian refugee hysteria as his campaign closing Hail Marry pass. Where it gets really weird and sinister is that this has involved not just scaremongering about refugees in the abstract but Vitter personally sounding the alarm about a specific Syrian refugee who’d been settled in the state and had suddenly gone missing. It turned out that the whole story was bogus: The man in question had been relocated to the Washington DC area through officials channels with all relevant officials notified. But that wasn’t before a whole round of Vitter-campaign backed incitement had gotten underway and led to threats against the local branch of Catholic Charities, which overseas refugee resettlement in the area and is actually connected to Vitter’s wife. It’s quite a story to put it mildly and it shows how quickly political nonsense can escalate into a weird politicking-cum-vigilante incitement that can get someone killed. The election is tomorrow and Catherine Thompson has the story.

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