Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Righty Blog Roundup: Surprise -- "L'Affair Thesis" is Liberal Media's Fault

As Day 3 of L’Affair Thesis came to a close, Bob McDonnell’s supporters regressed to the default position Conservatives regress to when they get exposed as BCEs (Batshit Crazy Extremists).

It is all the media’s fault for letting people know about them.

But even as they trot out the tired and true staple, the several Conservative blogs I looked at seem to know this is not really the problem, and in their hearts do not really seem to believe in the arguments they are putting forth.

Over at Too Conservative, for example, VA Blogger in a post entitled “Too Unbelievable To Be True,” can only complain that the Washington Post did not equally criticize Gov. Kaine for being partisan when he took his job at the DNC. The cases are not equivalent, however -- the WaPo did not criticize McDonnell for being partisan; it criticized him for being divisive and out of touch -- and VA Blogger’s actual argument fails to live up to the hype of the headline.

Similarly, at Bearing Drift, JR Hoeft claims the WaPo is acting hypocritically, but he notably fails to cite a single instance of hypocrisy on the part of the paper. Reading Mr. Hoeft’s post, it is clear that the real source of his annoyance is that the WaPo is reporting the story, and not simply parroting McDonnell’s spin on it. Mr. Hoeft seems equally annoyed with the RTD’s Jeff Schapiro for the same thing. In the Conservative view of the world, of course, reporting facts instead of right-wing spin is evidence of bias.

In any event, I don’t think blaming the media will work here. For one thing, it is a tactic that rarely works over time – hence the aphorism about not picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. “Working the refs” like this does sometimes result in reporters and editors bending over backwards in the short-term to criticize the other guy to show they are being equally tough on all candidates, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some “negative” reporting on Creigh from the WaPo in the next couple of weeks, to the extent that there is any fodder to work with.

More importantly, the argument of media bias in this case is pretty weak. Where, exactly, is the bias? Can McDonnell’s defenders seriously believe that his thesis is not newsworthy? Virtually every media outlet in the country disagrees. Can they seriously believe he put all questions to rest with a single conference call? Do they seriously think the voters of Virginia would rather hear about McDonnell’s plans to name Bill Bolling Chief Job Creation Officer than watch him twist himself into a pretzel trying to explain his 18th Century vision for 21st Century Virginia?

The critical issue for Virginia, and one that as far as I can see Mr. McDonnell has not addressed at all, is whether he still believes that government should be an instrument of imposing an extreme Christian Fundamentalist moral code on all the citizens of Virginia against their will. In that sense, I guess, I agree with my Conservative friends that the issue is not so much how Bob McDonnell felt about working women twenty years ago; rather, the issue is how would he, were he to be elected to lead the Commonwealth, treat decent, law-abiding Virginians today who choose a different lifestyle than what he thinks is morally appropriate.

The people of Virginia have a right to know whether their Governor thinks they ought to be punished by their own government -- not for breaking the law, but rather for not adhering to the same moral and religious code under which their Governor chooses to live, because in the final analysis that is what McDonnell’s thesis is all about.

As a 34-year old graduate student, McDonnell clearly believed the government ought to force Fundamentalist morality on all people, whether they want it or not. As a member of the General Assembly, he repeatedly sought to do so legislatively to the greatest degree possible, even to the point of limiting access to contraceptives. He admits that on the issue of reproductive choice, he would force his beliefs on all of us if he could, i.e., if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Finally, he has a long history of – and I apologize if any find this offensive, but there is no nice way to say it – hostility and discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians.

So far, McDonnell’s response to questions about his view of government’s role in imposing his religious morality on all citizens has been to change the subject to economic issues, claiming that is what people care about. The fact is, people care about both issues.

McDonnell’s supporters can rant against the Washington Post and Jeff Schapiro all they want, but this problem will not go away until McDonnell addresses the more important issue of what he will do as Governor with respect to social issues in an honest, specific and convincing manner – which he has not yet done -- and let the chips fall where they may.

His supporters would better serve their candidate by urging him to pursue this course, instead of propagating the same old victimization canard that the media is at fault for this mess.


  1. It was okay for Barack Obama to deflect attention from his college writings and associations. It's probably more appropriate to point out the media hypocrisy in the speed with which they got their hit pieces out on Bob McDonnell as opposed to the vigilant wall they put up when asked to show the video of the dinner with Obama and William Ayers.

    Since the media lies so much to us, I don't take much credence in the Bob McDonnell thesis story. If you want to worry about wolves in sheep clothing, look about 100 miles north of Richmond. There you will find a glaring example.

    Add me to your list of BCE's. Here's my take on McDonnell:

  2. Here's the correct link to my commentary:

  3. Patrick - Thanks for the comment. There is no hypocrisy here -- sometimes the media finds relavance in old writings, sometimes it doesn't. I think it depends on many factors, the least of which is whether the subject is a Democrat or a Republican.

    Writings 20 years old were poured over in the oppo research on Sotomeyor. I seriously doubt if there was somehting 20 years ago in those writings that Republicans would have let it go. Indeed, a poorly phrased line in a speech explaining how one's upbringing served to inform one's worldview -- an obvious point if there ever was one -- served as justification for virtually every Republican Senator to vote against an obviously qualified SCOTUS nominee.

    That's the problem with these ridiculous arguments. There is plenty of hypocrisy, doubly stadarnizing and inconsistency to go around, it all depends on where you look and the perspective you bring to it.

    So, your argument is no argument at all. The voters will decide whether this stuff is important to them, but the media will continue to cover it as long as they think it remains an interesting story. There is nothing more, and nothing less, to it than that.

  4. I'd hate to correct you on your own site, but the Washington Post *specifically* said that "the Bob McDonnell" who wrote that thesis would be partisan, which they called a "departure" from the governing legacy of past executives.

    I wasn't criticizing the Post for not taking a line against Kaine as DNC Chairman; I understand that the Post was thrilled to have Kaine as their leader. I was critizing the Post for calling McDonnell potentially too "partisan" to be Governor while turning the blindest eye imaginable to the fact that our current Governor is the highest-ranking partisan official in the entire country.

  5. VA Blogger - No worries. I don't mind the correction at all. It is true the WaPo uses the word "partisan," but that is clearly not the thrust of their point. There is really nothing unusually partisan about the Thesis, IMHO, even thoughMcDonnell does see the GOP as the vehicle for achieving his dream of a theocracy. But the actual principles he espouses (not all of which are offensive, BTW) are not, in my view, necessarily associated with one party or the other as a philosophical matter.

  6. It may not be the "thrust" of their point, yet it remains part of their point. I would hope they chose their words carefully and purposefully. And it seems odd to me that, of all the words they could have chosen, they settled upon "partisan", despite Chairman Kaine's current position.