Maya del Mar's Daykeeper Journal: Astrology, Consciousness and Transformation

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GOP Summer Sex Follies: Vitter and Craig

by Alex Miller-Mignone

The summer months are often bleak and arid in Washington, with Congress out of session for portions of July and most of August. But the summer of 2007 hotted up in more ways than one, with two Republican sex scandals engendered by members of the “family values” Senate set.

On July 9 the story broke that Senator David Vitter’s (R-LA) phone number was included on the infamous “DC Madam” Deborah Jeanne Palfrey’s call list. According to phone records, Vitter called her escort service, Pamela Martin & Associates, five times from 1999 to 2001, while Vitter was still in the House of Representatives.

This was not the first time Vitter’s name was associated with prostitution. In 2002 his nascent gubernatorial campaign in Louisiana was squashed when allegations emerged that he had been involved with a New Orleans hooker, Wendy Cortez (oddly, Vitter’s wife is also named Wendy, which certainly reduces the chances of embarrassing mistakes during pillow talk). Vitter withdrew from the race, citing marital difficulties but denying the accusations. These same allegations were repeated in 2004 when Vitter ran to fill retiring Senator John Breaux’s seat, but the Louisiana legislator toughed it out this time, terming the charges “absolutely and completely untrue,” and “just crass Louisiana politics.” He went on to win election with 51% of the vote, becoming the first Republican ever to be elected to the Senate from Louisiana.

Ironically, Vitter’s national government career began when he won a special election in 1999 to replace disgraced Representative Bob Livingston, who had resigned after an adultery scandal. Some Louisiana wags have now dubbed this First District seat “the Something on the Side” seat. Vitter is a staunch family values supporter, an opponent of abortion rights and same sex marriage, and an advocate of abstinence education. He has stated that “teaching teenagers that saving sex until marriage and remaining faithful afterwards is the best choice for health and happiness.”

With the evidence of the phone records to confront him, Vitter did not deny his involvement with the DC escort service, but continued to refute the allegations of earlier episodes with Wendy Cortez in New Orleans. On July 10, the day after Hustler magazine broke the story of his phone calls, Vitter issued a statement: “This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there—with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.”

After a few days of headlines and controversy, the story largely died down. The statute of limitations had run on these infractions dating from the late 90's, and as the conduct had occurred while Vitter was still in the House, the Senate Ethics Committee chose not to pursue the matter. Local Louisiana Republicans, though distressed and offended by Vitter’s behavior, were in a forgiving mood, largely motivated by the fact that if he resigned, his replacement would be chosen by Louisiana’s Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco, thus further eroding the GOP’s position in the Senate. When Vitter returned to the Senate floor, he was given a loud standing ovation by his Republican colleagues.

But another shoe remained to be dropped. Vitter’s repeated denials over the years had angered Wendy Cortez, the New Orleans prostitute with whom he was alleged to have had an affair, and she approached Hustler publisher Larry Flynt with her story. After passing a polygraph, on September 11, Cortez and Flynt appeared at a press conference to reiterate her involvement with Vitter. Cortez affirmed that over a four-month period in 1999, she and Vitter had regular sexual assignations, two or three times weekly, at $300 per session.

Vitter’s was not the only performance in the Republican sexcapades. That same summer a second GOP Senator quite literally put a foot wrong, and the reaction was very different.

On 27 August 2007, Roll Call, a Washington DC paper specializing in congressional news, broke the story that Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) had been arrested for lewd conduct in a Minneapolis, Minnesota airport men’s room on June 11, and had plea-bargained to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct on August 8. As details emerged of his attempts to solicit sex from a plainclothes policeman in the adjoining bathroom stall, Craig’s embarrassment became acute, and Senate colleagues stampeded for the exits.

The Idaho Senator, another staunch family values proponent with a long record of opposition to gay rights, such as upholding the ban on gays in the military, excluding homosexuals from hate crimes legislation, and supporting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, had been suspected of gay activity for 25 years, since the congressional page sex scandal of 1982. At that time, the 37-year-old Craig was still single, and when journalists investigated his involvement in the cocaine and sex outrage with underage male pages, Craig denied it, inveighing, “Persons who are unmarried as I am, by choice or by circumstance, have always been the subject of innuendos, gossip and false accusations. I think this is despicable.” The following year, Craig married Suzanne Thompson, and adopted her three children from a previous marriage; the couple have no children of their own.

While still in the House, Craig was one of several Republican Ethics Committee members who pushed for sterner measures against Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1989 for his connection with a gay prostitution ring. In 1999, as a Senator, Craig came out strongly against Clinton’s extramarital affair, leeringly characterizing him in a Meet The Press interview that January as “a nasty, bad, naughty boy.”

On June 11, 2007, during a layover at the Minneapolis Airport, Craig was arrested after surreptitiously signaling for sex to an officer who was staked out in the men’s room, notorious for its public sex. The officer’s report, released to the media, details how Craig first repeatedly peered through a crack in the officer’s stall door, then entered the adjoining stall. The Senator tapped his foot several times in a known gesture of sexual solicitation, then edged his right foot beneath the partition to nudge the officer’s left foot, afterward passing his left hand, palm side up, several times below the partition on the officer’s side.

When shown the officer’s badge and signaled to leave the restroom, Craig at first refused, then complied. Before his arrest interview, he presented his Senate ID with the comment, “What do you think of that?” Craig’s defense of his actions was to assert, in re the foot touching, that he has a “wide stance” when using the toilet, and his suggestion that he had lowered his hand merely to pick up a piece of paper was belied by the use of the left hand on his extreme right side, which would have been a very awkward movement given his seated position, and its palm up orientation. That it was his left hand is confirmed by the officer’s testimony that when Craig passed it under the stall divider, he could see the Senator’s wedding ring.

After waiting nearly two months, Craig pled guilty to the reduced charge of disorderly conduct on August 1, his plea being entered by mail and registered in Minneapolis on August 8. The day after the story broke on August 27, the Idaho Statesman, a Boise newspaper, published an expose of the Senator’s sexual history which they had been compiling for months, including allegations by three men that Craig had solicited or performed sexual acts with them. One dated from 1967, offered by a straight pledge at Craig’s University of Idaho fraternity, stating that Craig had lured him to his bedroom and propositioned him; a second allegation stems from a November 1994 incident at an R.E.I. store in Boise, wherein a gay man stated that Craig cruised him for half an hour, following him around the store; the third occurrence relates to another incident of public sex at a men’s room in Washington’s Union Station in 2004, where a second gay man alleges he and Craig performed oral sex on each other.

That same day Craig held a press conference in Boise, where he opened with the rather ill-considered sentiment, “Thank you all for coming out today.” He further stated that, “I am not gay. I never have been gay.... In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty.... I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously. I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away.... Please let me apologize to my family, friends and staff and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I did nothing wrong, and I regret the decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought on my wife, on my family, friends, staff and fellow Idahoans.”

Senate colleagues, with visions before their eyes of Florida Representative Mark Foley’s disgrace and resignation just 11 months before in a scandal involving sexually explicit emails to underage male pages, began backing away immediately. On the 30th the Statesman called for Craig’s resignation, followed by fellow GOP Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Senate Republican leaders stripped Craig of his committee assignments, and the Ethics Committee mooted an investigation.

On1 September Craig gave another press conference, announcing his “intent” to resign his Senate seat effective 30 September. In a bizarre twist, several days later an audio tape was released which made it clear that Craig’s words were carefully chosen to allow for an eventual reversal of that apparently final decision. Craig misdialed when phoning his lawyer, and left a message on a stranger’s cell phone (later released to the media), stating his true intention to attempt to have his guilty plea revoked and to fight for his seat. Craig’s staff confirmed this, and on September 10 papers were filed with a Minneapolis court to reverse the plea. A hearing was set for 26 September.

Both Vitter and Craig have prominent positions in the campaigns of current GOP presidential contenders, Vitter as Regional Southern Chair for Rudy Giuliani, and Craig as Senate Liaison for Mitt Romney. Giuliani has thus far stood by Vitter, though the Louisiana Senator has been largely sidelined by the campaign; Romney ejected Craig almost immediately, stating “He’s disappointed the American people.”

David VitterBorn 3 May 1961, David Vitter has a chart well calculated to provoke controversy. The Sun at 13 Taurus is within the event horizon, or orb of influence, of the Black Hole at 16 Taurus, and is exactly squared the volatile Maser at 13 Leo, as well as being opposed one Pulsar at 15 Scorpio and squared a second at 15 Aquarius. The Black Hole can indicate a second life, a secret, unknown existence which is at extreme variance with the public face the native presents. There is also a tendency for Dame Fortune to turn on a dime, for life to change in the twinkling of an eye. The Maser indicates a potential for controversy or disruption and lends an element of shock, while the dual Pulsar contact virtually ensures the media’s involvement and interest. Mercury and asteroid Phaeton are closely conjoined the Sun from 14 Taurus, subjecting them to the same galactic influences. Mercury with a Black Hole can suggest dissembling and avoidance of the truth. Phaeton here indicates a certain degree of rashness, of biting off more than one can chew, a precipitate rush into situations one is not prepared for.

This combination is tightly squared by asteroid Damocles, exactly conjunct the Pulsar at 15 Aquarius. A sense of impending doom pervades the situation, which is rife with the constant tension of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Sexual astrological indicators are also telling. Venus at 12 Aries had just made its direct station the day before Vitter’s birth, so it is a prominent and potent presence in the chart. It conjoins the manifestation-evoking Quasar at 10 Aries, which is exactly conjunct minor planet Eris and asteroid Chaos. Quasar contacts promote visibility and notoriety, and while this is often a positive outcome, it can have its drawbacks as well, as seen in Vitter’s case—it is romantic entanglements that have vaulted him into the national spotlight.

Eris is a fractious, irritable, petulant energy (see September 2007 for more on Eris). Its alliance with Venus and the effect on Vitter’s relationships here may be noted in the tenor of Wendy Vitter’s earlier 1999 remarks concerning potential marital infidelity. At the time that Vitter replaced Livingston, who had resigned his House seat after the disclosure of his adultery, Wendy was asked if she could forgive similar conduct by her husband, the way Livingston’s wife had forgiven him. Her response was to state that she was “a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary [Clinton (then embroiled in the Lewinsky scandal)]. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.” Chaos of course needs no explanation - its effects on Venus show quite clearly in Vitter’s life.

Mars, too, is well placed for drama. At 28 Cancer it is exactly conjoined a Black Hole, and also conjunct the USA Mercury at 24 Cancer, guaranteeing national headlines for any revealed sexual irregularities. Black Hole Mars can be obsessive about sex, and fetishist. (Although Wendy Cortez has described Vitter as “normal” sexually, it may be difficult to determine what constitutes normalcy for a woman of her experience.) There are very strong appetites and uncontrollable attractions for practices others might consider unorthodox or out of the mainstream. Mars also opposes natal Saturn at 29 Capricorn, itself conjunct another Media-attracting Pulsar; sexual blocks and frustrations may be indicated, as well as the implication of sex-as-business and the unfortunate combination of sexual matters with career.

There is also an interesting T-Square involving Jupiter at 6 Aquarius, squared to both Neptune at 9 Scorpio conjoined asteroid Eros at 7 and a Black Hole at 6, and asteroid Askalaphus at 5 Taurus, conjunct the Quasar at 4. Jupiter/Neptune indicates some deception or dissociation in political matters, specifically involving philosophy, a fundamental split between the fantasy of what is promulgated and the reality of what is lived. Black Hole Neptune has a very developed fantasy life, which tied with Eros highly romanticizes erotic content, and can also indicate an addictive nature as regards physical passion.

Askalaphus is named for the Underworld denizen who exposed Persephone’s consumption of a few pomegranate seeds while in Hades’ enforced custody, thus requiring her to spend six months of every year with him. Her mother Demeter was so incensed at his disclosure that she turned him into a screech owl. There is certainly a tale-bearing aspect to Vitter’s circumstances, from the original media reports which have dogged him for almost a decade, to the DC Madam’s call list, and lately, Wendy Cortez’ own eyewitness testimony. The successive build-up of the circumstances from disputed allegation to uncontested fact may be due to the Quasar contact, which promotes visibility and shines a spotlight on whatever it contacts; it is impossible to hide or disguise for long anything a Quasar touches.

Asteroids Aphrodite and Icarus conjoin at 18 and 16 Pisces, conjunct Uranus’ most recent retrograde station at 18 Pisces in June. Vitter is a sexual risk-taker, rash and impetuous, and the Uranus station just two weeks before the story broke was the signal for public revelations of his indiscretions. Lastly, asteroid Karma at 3 Pisces exactly conjoins the South Node, an apt image of one’s past catching up with them; this degree was highlighted by the August 28 Lunar Eclipse at 4 Pisces.

When the story broke nationally on July 9, 2007, transit Mars at 10 Taurus was coming to conjoin the Sun/Mercury/Phaeton combination at 13 and 14 Taurus, and transit Uranus was still at its station degree of 18 Pisces, highlighting Aphrodite/Icarus. When Wendy Cortez came forward on 11 September, the transit Sun at 18 Virgo had moved to oppose Aphrodite/Icarus, with retrograde Uranus now exactly conjoined Icarus at 16 Pisces. Transit Venus, fresh from her direct station at 16 Leo, was conjunct the 13 Leo Maser, inconjunct transit Uranus, and squaring natal Sun/Mercury/Phaeton, while Saturn at 1 Virgo was bearing down upon Karma/South Node at 3. So far Vitter has not responded directly to Cortez’ accusations, stating only that these matters have already been addressed.

Larry CraigCraig’s chart is similarly evocative of his troubles. He was born 20 July 1945. In his chart, the Sun at 27 Cancer conjoins the Black Hole at 28 Cancer, squares two others, at 28 Libra and 26 Aries, and opposes two Pulsars, at 26 and 28 Capricorn. As with Vitter, Black Hole Sun can denote separate lives, one open and above-board, the other hidden and beneath the surface. Craig’s ability to successfully compartmentalize and keep these disparate realities separate is seriously impinged by the all-seeing eye of the media, as represented by the opposed Pulsars. It may have taken 25 years for supposition and innuendo to be confirmed, but in the final analysis, Craig was unable to maintain both his worlds intact.

Venus at 13 Gemini conjoins Uranus at 15; outer planet contacts with Venus or Mars often denote same sex attraction, and Venus blended with Uranus can suggest a desire for the sort of romantic detachment to be found in anonymous encounters with strangers. Venus/Uranus natives also tend to form what others consider mesalliances—choosing partners who are seen as inappropriate or unsuitable, even forbidden or taboo.

Venus/Uranus is tightly trine to a clustering of asteroids which straddle a Black Hole at 13 Libra and a Quasar at 14 Libra. These comprise Ganymede, named for Zeus’ cup bearer and boy toy lover, at 12 Libra; Eros, the god of erotic passion, also at 12 Libra; and Dionysos, divine patron of homosexual love in ancient Greece, at 16 Libra. Dionysos, in particular, is a wild and frenzied energy, unwilling to conform to societal norms, and all too ready to break the rules and take a risk, exulting in passion run amok. Filling in a Grand Trine is asteroid Icarus at 14 Aquarius retrograde, suggestive of an impulsive, impetuous, reactive nature, pursuing a course of action without thinking through its ramifications, oblivious to the consequences. Venus/Uranus is also opposed the asteroid Askalaphus at 14 Sagittarius retrograde, transforming the Grand Trine into a Kite and repeating the prominent theme of tale-bearing seen in Vitter’s chart.

Adding fuel to that fire is Mars, which at 28 Taurus is conjoined a Maser at 26, opposed a Quasar at 27 Scorpio and squared a Black Hole at 27 Aquarius. Mars/Maser is volatile and uncontrolled; its needs are visceral and not susceptible to rational interference. Masers also attract controversy and have an inescapable, obsessive quality—this deep space anomaly randomly and violently spews vast jets of matter from its core; when in active mode it is irrepressible and anarchic. The square to a Black Hole is again suggestive of hidden matters involving sexuality, or a parallel reality running unseen side by side the official one. The Quasar opposition illumines the situation, making permanent obfuscation impossible, and guaranteeing a high-profile denouement once the deception is exposed.

As with Venus, Mars is also tied to a number of asteroids which speak to the specifics of Craig’s situation. Karma at 22 Taurus and Nemesis at 25 Taurus conjoin Mars, adding a flavor of inevitable comeuppance and receiving one’s just desserts. Also conjunct are Sappho at 0 Gemini, which often appears linked with Venus or Mars in charts of homosexuals; and Phaeton at 5 Gemini, further suggestive of rash or ill-considered action which brings cataclysm upon the native.

Asteroids Aphrodite and Damocles conjoin at 10 and 8 Pisces retrograde respectively, opposed the Black Hole at 9 Virgo. This conveys a sense of an impending doom hanging over the native due to a romantic dalliance, all the moreso as Aphrodite/Damocles lies in square to Venus/Uranus.

When Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis Airport on June 11, transit Jupiter retrograde was precisely conjunct Askalaphus at 14 Sagittarius, igniting the Venus/Uranus Kite and exposing his hidden life once and for all. The transit Sun at 20 Gemini had passed over Venus/Uranus during the preceding week, and transit Uranus, then at 18 Pisces, had been squaring the pair late that winter and early spring, preparing the ground for a shocking revelation. Transit Mars and Saturn were joined at 20 Leo, opposing transit Neptune at 20 Aquarius, this polarity focused on Craig’s natal Mercury at 24 Leo. Neptune’s ability to obfuscate and delay gave the Senator a couple months’ lead time on the release of the news (Mercury), but ultimately, the disclosure of his sexual improprieties (Mars) may end his career (Saturn).

Craig mailed in his guilty plea on 1 August, with the transit Sun focused on his 9 Leo natal Pluto, indicating the scandal, and with Mars at 26 Taurus conjunct Nemesis and about to return to its natal degree of 28 Taurus, reinforcing the sense, supported by the testimony of men he approached for sex from college to the present, that this is a lifelong sexual attraction for men, not a one-time misunderstanding. When the story broke on 27 August, newsy Mercury at 14 Virgo was tightly squared natal Venus/Uranus and forming a T-Square with natal Askalaphus. Mars at 12 Gemini was moving to conjoin Venus/Uranus, which it finally did by the end of the week when Craig announced his tentative resignation on 1 September. By then, too, the transit Sun at 8 Virgo was poised to burn away the slender thread of Damocles’ sword, which it opposed exactly.

Vitter and Craig are each, of course, entitled to a private life, and to whatever decisions they make concerning it. Both are in some sense a hostage to the moral rectitude of fundamentalist Christian interests, which have made common cause with the GOP, a union which has brought the Republican Party electoral success. In the ordinary course of events, their private indiscretions would not merit public examination, but when politicians tout “family values” to receive votes while simultaneously engaging in some of the behaviors they condemn, their actions become relevant and public scrutiny is appropriate. In such circumstances their hypocrisy is evident, and “values voters” would do well to consider the effects on our country’s political discourse wrought by their carping insistence on strict adherence to their own arbitrary standards.

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at