Saturday, March 03, 2012

Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell’s Not-So-Magic Wand

I will confess that part of me revels in seeing Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell - a/k/a Taliban Bob - taking a continued beating because of his coddling of extremists in the Virginia GOP and slavish pandering to the Christofascists at The Family Foundation. Now he's even taking a beating in the venerable UK publication The Economist. Bob, I hope you've given Victoria Cobb and Bob Marshall a resounding "thank you" for what they and their fellow religious extremists have likely done to your political career. Here are some highlights from The Economist's take down of Taliban Bob:

BOB MCDONNELL’S landslide victory in the election for Virginia’s governor in 2009, coming one year after Barack Obama carried the state, lifted the conservative Republican to national fame. In short order, Mr McDonnell set his sights on another job: vice-president.

His ambitions may now be threatened by a seeming inability to control the excesses of his party: in particular, a requirement pushed through the legislature that women seeking abortions must undergo a vaginal ultrasound test.

Pundits and satirists have been eager to link Virginia’s bill to the rows over contraception now convulsing the Republican Party as Mitt Romney dukes it out with Rick Santorum. Republicans in Richmond hastily rewrote their bill, requiring merely an obligatory abdominal ultrasound rather than the use of a vaginal probe.

The fact that Mr McDonnell had not foreseen a public backlash to the vaginal-ultrasound requirement seems, to some, to illustrate his tone-deafness and inattention to detail. Both could have adverse consequences for the governor, who, as a prospective running-mate for Mr Romney, fancies himself as a bridge to conservatives wary of the moderate front-runner.

He originally billed himself as a non-threatening conservative more interested in budget-balancing and job creation than in social or cultural matters. But since taking office two years ago, despite an approval rating that hovers around 60%, he has been knocked off-balance by avoidable controversies.

In April 2010 Mr McDonnell signed a proclamation celebrating Virginia’s Confederate past, but failed to make any mention of slavery.

This latest embarrassment recalls one that threatened Mr McDonnell’s candidacy for governor: his thesis as a law student in 1989 at a university founded by Pat Robertson, the television evangelist. In it, Mr McDonnell argued that feminists are “detrimental” to the family and that public policy should favour married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators”. When it comes to Republican politics in 2012, he was clearly ahead of his time.

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