Post Trying to Macaca McDonnell
Republican Bob McDonnell enjoys a rather sizable lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in his race for Virginia’s governorship. But the Washington Post, which went after George Allen with amazing fervor in his 2006 race against longshot Jim Webb, is doing what it can to fix that. First, it ran a series of articles about a master’s thesis McDonnell wrote during the Reagan administration. With that having not done the trick, it’s digging up a new charge:
In January 2003, then-Del. Robert F. McDonnell helped gavel in one of the most extraordinary judicial reappointment hearings in Virginia history: a seven-hour, trial-like affair that led to questions about whether the future Republican gubernatorial candidate thought gays were fit to serve on the bench.
As chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, McDonnell sat at the head of the proceedings, with his Senate counterpart next to him and committee members on both sides. Facing them was Verbena M. Askew of Newport News, the state’s first black female Circuit Court judge, whose reappointment was in jeopardy because of allegations that she had sexually harassed a female colleague.
In comments before the hearing, McDonnell indicated that Askew’s sexual conduct was relevant, telling one newspaper that “certain homosexual conduct” could disqualify a person from being a judge because it violates the state’s crimes against nature law. The words were widely published at the time, and his remarks contributed to a lasting view that sexual orientation was at least one reason for Askew’s ouster.
McDonnell’s role in the hearing has attracted renewed scrutiny after the publication last week of a 1989 graduate school thesis in which the 14-year lawmaker and former attorney general had criticized working mothers and homosexuals and urged the promotion of traditional values through government. In one passage, McDonnell wrote: “Man’s basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter.”
McDonnell was credited by Republicans and Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly at the time for making sure witnesses supporting Askew were present at the hearing.
He also became known for telling the Daily Press of Newport News that certain homosexual activities could disqualify a person from the bench. “It certainly raises some questions about the qualifications to serve as a judge,” he said. “There is certain homosexual conduct that is in violation of the law,” McDonnell added. “I’m not telling you I would disqualify a judge per se if he said he was gay. I’m talking about their actions.”
What’s particularly rich here is that the Post is arguing that it’s own opposition research on a candidate is grounds for doing more of the same because, after all, it “attracted renewed scrutiny”! Imagine that. Indeed, they title the piece “After Thesis Uproar, McDonnell’s Strongly Worded Comments on Gays Resurface.” One has to love the use of the passive voice to obscure the fact that it’s the Post itself creating the uproar and doing the resurfacing.
Like Allen, McDonnell has run numerous races, including statewide races, before. He’s faced the scrutiny of the voters and the slings and arrows of opposition campaigns. These issues have therefore been bandied about over and again.
In what possible sense is a twenty-year-old graduate thesis news? Or even six-year-old public hearings that were widely covered at the time? This is a smear job, not journalism.