THE FIGHT OVER FAMILY PLANNING…. This is painful on so many levels.

With his 2010 reelection campaign looming, Sen. David Vitter (R-Very Serious Sin) is beating his family values drum.

The Louisiana senator has introduced an amendment to the omnibus spending bill before the Senate to drastically cut funding for family planning programs…. His family-planning amendment is one of dozens of social-related measures Vitter has introduced this Congress as he seeks to shore up his bona fides with conservative voters.

Lest we forget, Vitter hasn’t exactly shown himself to be a paragon of family values, which may be why he’s aggressively traveling his state trying to woo social conservatives in the face of potentially serious primary challenges in a race filled with zany characters.

So, Vitter wants American women and their families to suffer so he can score some cheap points, while praying his constituents overlook his unfortunate hooker habit. The irony of having a philandering politician, who arranged pay-for-sex schemes from the floor of Congress, target family planning funding is apparently lost on Vitter altogether.

Hypocrisy aside, let’s also not overlook the fact that treating family planning programs as some kind of political football is ridiculous. These programs prevent unwanted pregnancies, reduce abortions, and not incidentally, empower women to make prudent choices about their reproductive health. During a recession, with many families losing their healthcare insurance, family planning programs are even more needed, making Vitter’s “pro-family” grandstanding that much more offensive.

And even if Vitter comes up short with this stunt, we can expect to have the same fight again soon. After the family planning provision in the economic stimulus package was dropped last month, the Obama administration, as promised, included the same measures in the FY2010 budget. This means, of course, Vitter and his allies will have yet another chance to whine about a common-sense program that helps women and their families, and saves states money.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.