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The devil we don’t know

It wasn’t that long ago that Bob McDonnell was bragging about the grad-school thesis that he wrote 20 years ago at the age of 34 as being a blueprint for GOP action on welfare policy.

Now he’s wishing he hadn’t brought up the thesis, since discovered in the Regent University library and shared with the world in all its glory as a blueprint for something else entirely.

“The nation must rely on pro-family Republicans to reverse the trends of recent decades,” McDonnell wrote in the 1989 thesis, which spelled out as the “trends of the recent decades” the “detrimental” move of women entering the workforce, no-fault divorce, public schools teaching “humanist values and a secular philosophy,” gays and lesbians being, well, gays and lesbians, you know, doing gay and lesbian things.

To emphasize, this was 20 years ago, 1989, when the guy was 34, two years away from running for and winning a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he would follow what he laid out in his thesis – starting with the top item in his plan of action, “Continue to work for strong state anti-abortion laws” – to a tee for 14 years before being elected attorney general in 2005.

McDonnell himself is now saying that he thinks “different” than he did back then, when we’re to presume he was just an impressionable 34-year-old struggling for a topic to write about in his thesis and happened to settle on laying out a plan of action for how extremist right-wing social-conservative ideolgues should approach effecting changes in the public-policy sphere for lack of anything better coming to mind.

Funny thing, that thesis. He seemed to presume while writing it that extremist right-wing social-conservative ideologues would have a hard time getting elected, to the point of bringing the issue up in his thesis directly.

“It is also becoming clear in modern culture that the voting American mainstream is not willing to accept a true pro-family ideologue,” he wrote on page 55 of the thesis, before complaining a little later on page 55 that it was in large part the media’s fault that this was the case.

“The media’s generally liberal perspective on important issues such as teen pregnancy, abortion, welfare dependency, and homosexuality have made conservative orators sound like extremists.”

A couple of pages earlier, on page 53, McDonnell had spread the blame out a bit more. “Because of the political apathy of the electorate, and poor marketing, Republican views are not fully understood and accepted even less.”

So it’s a little bit the media, a little bit the lazy American public, a little bit “poor marketing.” Not the out-of-touch ideas about women and public schools and gays.

But this was McDonnell thinking out loud and putting it down on paper, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

So what were Republicans to do, then, to “reverse the trends of recent decades”? “Believing in the correctness of their moral vision for the family and limited constitutional government, Republican pro-family advocates must also be political risk takers and educators, who understand that often the profound wisdom of God’s law for the family will appear as folly to foolish men,” he wrote on page 56.

So either the guy has totally turned his back on what he believed as a 34-year-old a year away from the General Assembly to be “the profound wisdom of God’s law,” or he’s acting as someone who is aware that “the voting American mainstream is not willing to accept a true pro-family ideologue” and trying to make you believe that he’s not that guy so that you’ll vote for him.

I hate to use words like “sleazy” to refer to people, but it seems to apply here.

 

– Column by Chris Graham


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