A ‘different’ Bob McDonnell

I wouldn’t say I’m bothered by what Bob McDonnell wrote two decades ago in his now-infamous master’s degree thesis.
OK, I am bothered by it, personally.
“While the proliferation in the day care industry was created in part by the financial hardships of women fostered by no-fault divorce, it was also stimulated by the private choices of individuals to increase their family income, or for some women, to break their perceived stereotypical role bonds and seek workplace equality and individual self-actualization. Must government subsidize the choices of a generation with an increased appetite for the materialistic components of the American Dream?” is the one that stands out the most to me, when I think back to where I was when he wrote those words in 1989.

I was 17, living in a trailer park, raised by a single mother who asked for a no-fault divorce from my father years earlier not because she was trying to break any “stereotypical role bonds” or “seek(ing) workplace equality and individual self-actualization,” but because he’d abandoned her and my sister and I, and no-fault divorce was the cheapest and quickest way for us to move on.

I wish it had been becaue my mom had had “an increased appetite for the materialistic components of the American Dream,” and that help with day care had been more of an option for us. Maybe then I could have played football and basketball in high school like I’d wanted to do, instead of having to give up afterschool activities to be home to watch my little sister.

But it’s all OK, because McDonnell, now that he’s running for governor, says his opinions on these matters is now “different,” that he was blinded by the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, that he doesn’t have a negative opinion of women in the workplace, pointing to his wife’s career and his daughters’ own educational achievements.

I wonder what he has to say about another line from the thesis, which you can read for yourself here. “The vast majority of American children have been educated in the public school system, in which textbooks and courses of instruction are increasingly oriented to humanist values and a secular philosophy.” Wonder what he meant by that? Yeah, I know, this is the part to the school-choice debate that makes me uneasy, to say the least.

“Every level of government should statutorily and procedurally prefer married couples over cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators. The cost of sin should fall on the sinner, not the taxpayer.” “Cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators”? Seriously?

“The real enemies of the traditional family – materialism, irresponsibility, feminism, lust, and ultimately selfishness – are largely outside the sphere of federal government impact.”

That one is pretty clear. “Feminism” is there in the sequence between “irresponsibility,” “lust” and “selfishness.”

Writing about the seminal Supreme Court decision in the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, McDonnell observed that the Court “postulated a new view of marriage by asserting tat the ‘preservation of marital privacy’ precludes state interference with the right to use contraceptives, even though the state had long been empowered to regulate the legal and sexual relationships of marriage. In Eistenstadt v. Baird, the activist Court illogically extended the Griswold notion of ‘marital privacy’ to unmarried persons, at a time when every state in the union made sexual intercourse between unmarried persons a crime.”

“The civil government was ordained to secure the inalienable rights of individuals created in the image and likeness of God, and to facilitate a society in which other institutions are free to perform their covenantal duties to God and others. The state alone, with the exception of parental discipline of children, bears the authority to punish wrongdoers, for the civil ruler is a minister of God to execute judgment and encourage good. Government authority is constrained by both this limited delegation of power from God, and by the covenant which the people have established with their leaders, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the constitutions of the United States and the several states, and statutes passed pursuant thereto,” McDonnell wrote.

We’re supposed to move on from this now because McDonnell thinks “different.” In what way? Apparently according to what he said in a conference call with reporters to address the issue today, he’s no longer where he was on no-fault divorce, which no doubt will endear him to the ultraconservatives in the Valley Family Forum and the Family Foundation of Virginia, who had to have blanched when they heard him say that. And he’s OK with women in the workplace now, too, though gays are still on the hit list.

The thing that bothers me the most is that last line that I cited above where he went all crazy religious on government being ordained to perform “covenantal duties” to God. I have a friend who refers to McDonnell only as “Taliban Bob,” and this is an indication of why. There’s not much difference between the political ideology of your average fundamentalist Islamic cleric and McDonnell on what role government is supposed to play.

But he’s “different” now. Uh huh. He was young when he wrote this 20 years ago. I mean, really, he was only 34. So what if he used his position in the Virginia House of Delegates to try to implement the extremist social legislation what he spelled out in his thesis? That was before his campaign produced its first 2009 campaign TV commercial selling him as a moderate centrist.

The Bob McDonnell in the TV commercials is a nice guy with a strong wife and daughters who hasn’t a bad thing to say about anybody.

That’s the Bob McDonnell running for governor.

The Bob McDonnell who will be governor is a “different” guy, too.

You’ll just have to take his word for it on that, of course.


– Column by Chris Graham

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