Saturday, July 18, 2009
Bob McDonnell has some questions to answer (but first the media has to ask) - UPDATED
Bob McDonnell does not want to talk about his views on social issues, specifically abortion and gay marriage, because those views reveal him as an extremist who would use the power of the government to deny basic civil rights to American citizens.
The election in November ought to tell us whether this is what Virginians want from their Governor, but that will happen only if McDonnell is forced to discuss his views in detail.
The mainstream media, which still for the most part controls communication between candidates and political office, ought to aggressively force him to do so. Indeed, the media has an obligation to so.
So far, the media in the Commonwealth has given him a free ride on these matters.
Mr. McDonnell, of course, publicly expresses positions on these issues, but he is quite vague. Whether his statements are vague because of a sophisticated “dog-whistle” strategy, as Lowell puts it, or merely to avoid uncomfortable questions, I can say for sure, although I suspect the former.
According to Mr. McDonnell’s website, “Bob McDonnell is pro-life,” and discusses his solid pro-life voting record as a member of the GA. As every knows, however, that appellation means different things to different people. The site does not explain that Mr. McDonnell opposes a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape and incest, even in cases involving the health of the mother – the most extreme position. Why? Well, perhaps the fact that public support nationwide for that position hovers around 15-17%, according to recent polling.
I don’t agree with, Mr. McDonnell’s extremist opinion, but can understand how if one believes life begins at conception, that it is a logical position to take.
What I don’t understand, however, is if Mr. McDonnell sincerely believes this, why he is unwilling to, first, state his position clearly and, second, let the voters of Virginia understand how his beliefs will inform his actions as Governor.
As governor, and in furtherance of his beliefs, will Mr. McDonnell take steps to reduce the right of Virginia women to have access to medical care pursuant to a choice guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States? Will women face greater restrictions and more hurdles before they are able to exercise their rights? If so, specifically what can the women of Virginia expect from a McDonnell administration in this regard.
As for gay rights, Mr. McDonnell’s website sates, “Bob McDonnell believes marriage is the union between one man and one woman.” Fair enough.
But several years ago, Mr. McDonnell sought to block the reappointment of a Newport News Circuit Judge named Verbina Askew because she was allegedly gay. McDonnell, of course, is not an idiot. He went to great pains to assert that the judge’s sexual orientation did not matter to him; rather, the fact that she may have violated Virginia anti-sodomy statute in force at the time, which prohibited oral and anal sex, was a factor to consider in her reappointment.
Said McDonnell at the time, “It [possible sodomy] certainly raises some questions about the qualifications to serve as a judge."
McDonnell also said, "There is certain homosexual conduct that is in violation of the law," McDonnell said. "I’m not telling you I would disqualify a judge per se if he said he was gay. I’m talking about their actions."
(Incidentally, this was the context for the infamous incident in which Mr. McDonnell was asked whether he had ever violated the statute, and he hilariously responded, “Not that I can recall.”)
Look, the issue here is not hypocrisy.
Rather, the issue is that Bob McDonnell, and there is no nice way to say this, is a bigot.
Is any reasonable person taken in by Mr. McDonnell asserting the issue is not whether someone is gay, but rather whether someone engaged in sexual acts that are common in the gay community (and among heterosexuals, for that matter) that just happen to be against the law?
More to the point, where does Mr. McDonnell stand today on these issues? Would he still deny a homosexual a seat on the Bench because of his or her sexual orientation, regardless of the crazy excuse he uses to justify his action, like alleged violation of an anti-sodomy statute.
Would Mr. McDonnell deny a gay Virginian a job in his administration, or a job for the Commonwealth, for which they were otherwise qualified?
And as legally weak as it is, will Mr. McDonnell leave Governors Warner and Kaine’s executive order including sexual orientation in non-discriminatory hiring?
These are important issues that will directly affect the lives of hundreds of thousand of our fellow citizens, and indirectly affect the lives of millions of others. And the fact is that even if we are not personally affected, we all have an interest in ensuring that our Commonwealth is discrimination free and affords all people maximum individual freedom to follow their personal beliefs on issues of controlling their religious practices, and controlling their own bodies.
I have sent emails to Tucker Martin, Mr. McDonnell’s Communications Director, seeking an interview with Mr. McDonnell on these issues, and alternatively, posing these questions to McDonnell. I’m sure Mr. Martin got a chuckle out of it – that’s okay.
Bob McDonnell can duck me and other lefty blogs all day long without consequence, but he can’t duck the Washington Post, the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Roanoke Times, Channel 12 in Richmond and other major media outlets.
Eventually, Tucker, they'll be coming round to ask.
UPDATE: Michael-in-Norfolk comments below: In terms of the Executive orders of Governors Warner and Kaine, McDonnell is on record saying they are invalid. Moreover in a recent case involving a gay man fired by the Virginia Museum of Natural Histroy, McDonnell's AG office successfully sought to have the Executive Orders ruled a nullity - that case is now on appeal.
x-posted to Blue Virginia