The Regent administration
Remember Monica? The 1999 graduate of Regent University who was a top aide to Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez? Sure, you do.
She’s the lawyer from the class at the former Christian Broadcasting Network University School of Law that had 60 percent of its grads fail the bar the first time they took it who rose within a couple of years of her graduation to serving as the hatchet for Gonzalez, and later overseeing the controversial firing of several U.S. attorneys for political reasons at the apparent direction of Karl Rove in 2006.
Now that we’re all reacquainted, here’s why Monica Goodling is pertinent to the 2009 Virginia governor’s race. She was one of more than 150 Regent U. alums hired into the Bush administration, many for clearly political, and not qualifications, reasons. Case in point: One grad noted in a school newsletter in 2004 that his job offer in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was his only post-graduation job offer. Goodling herself was a political hire, having come into the administration after serving as an opposition researcher in the 2000 George W. Bush presidential campaign.
If Regent had even a halfway decent law school, that would be one thing. Founded in 1986, it didn’t earn accreditation from the American Bar Association until 1996, and according to the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings out a couple of weeks ago, it is still listed as a “fourth-tier” school, basically the lowest designation for law schools included in the rankings.
It would seem, then, that the most important qualification that a Regent grad could bring into government service is the social-conservative ideology enhanced by the indoctrination at the school founded by the ultraconservative televangelist Pat Robertson.
Which brings us to McDonnell, a Regent Law grad whose controversial 1989 Regent master’s degree thesis laid out a detailed blueprint for how religious conservatives could have their narrow anti-women, anti-public schools, anti-anything-that-isn’t-mom, dad and two kids worldview codified into law and public policy.
McDonnell was near-masterful in recasting himself as a moderate, centrist, Mark Warner-type Virginia pol this spring and summer, mainly through a series of well-produced TV ads that made him into The Family Guy Governor and The Jobs Governor. A 34-year-old McDonnell in 1989 had said this kind of makeover would be necessary, since it was “clear” that the American voting public, he wrote, “is not willing to accept a true pro-family ideologue.”
How about 150 pro-family ideologues? Or more? That’s the reality of a McDonnell administration in Richmond, unfortunately. And more unfortunately, should he be elected, the Regent ideologues would have infinitely more power in a McDonnell administration in Richmond than they would have on Capitol Hill, not just in terms of numbers, but in the power that the executive branch has in Virginia, where the General Assembly is part-time, and the governor is in charge to a great degree unchecked for 10 months out of the year.
We’re talking Cabinet posts being filled by ideologues who think women need to be barefoot and pregnant, the Department of Education being headed up by people who think our public schools don’t do enough conservative proselytizing, state agencies led by those who equate gays and lesbians to fornicators
It’s not hard to figure why the McDonnell camp is running like a scalded dog from this story. Yeah, it’s damage control from the campaign-ops perspective, but there’s a lot more to it than just getting elected. It could take decades to undo what a McDonnell administration in four years could do to public education, civil liberties and basic human rights.
And don’t think that Bob McDonnell and Pat Robertson haven’t thought that through.
- Column by Chris Graham