Home Virginia Politics Rachel Maddow On Bob McDonnell’s Ex-Felon Flip-Flop

Rachel Maddow On Bob McDonnell’s Ex-Felon Flip-Flop

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…Tonight we can report that Governor Bob McDonnell is stepping back from a third, radically right-wing policy position that he’s taken as governor, in response to very negative public reaction. Governor McDonnell keeps trying this stuff, over and over and over again, then it gets national attention and he has to dial it back  and pretend he didn’t mean it in the first place.

It has happened again. Last night, we reported on Governor McDonnell’s plans to require non-violent felons to write an essay about their contributions to society since their release if they wanted to have their voting rights restored. What had been a relatively perfunctory process would now include something like a test of a person’s literacy about his or her merit as a citizen of Virginia. In another day that sort of thing might have been called a literacy test. And in another day, literacy tests were used to keep African Americans from voting in the south.

This policy change was greeted the way a lot of Governor McDonnell’s governing ideas have been greeted so far. Much of the reaction could be described as horrified. And so today, Governor Bob McDonnell went on the radio in Norfolk, Virginia, acting as if his literacy-test-for-voting policy wasn’t really wasn’t what his administration said it would be. And, uh, maybe it’s not really going to happen anyway.  

[McDonnell speaking] “There’s no essay, we’ve asked for just a simple, uh, statement of what the person has done in order to be reintegrated into society, a little bit about their crime, what they’ve done to get back into society, any community activities, and we’re still in the draft stages…and I just ask people to give us a few months, we’re gonna – we haven’t even announced the final process.”

The only problem with McDonnell’s “draft stages” excuse, as Rachel Maddow points out, is this letter was already sent out to “dozens of non-violent felons” seeking to have their voting rights restored. So much for the policy change being in the “draft stage.”

As Maddow points out, this is the third time McDonnell has walked back a radical, right-wing policy after a public uproar. First, we had McDonnell’s kinda sorta flip-flop on the issue of hiring protections for gays and lesbians in Virginia. Second, we had his kinda-sorta flip-flop on Confederate History Month. And now, we have his kinda-sorta flip-flop on a de facto literacy test for non-violent ex-felons. Should we all just start calling Bob McDonnell “Governor Flip-Flop,” the “do-over” governor, or what?

P.S. Check out the discussion in the second half of this video. The question is, why is Bob McDonnell launching these culture wars? Is anyone in Virginia clamoring for them? Is this simply who McDonnell has been all along, does he think this makes sense politically for him, or what? Bizarre.

  • Tom

    He did say they could get someone else to write the letter for them. Kinda like paying a kid in their English class to write the essay for them. Lesson from cheating Bob: “If you want to learn to lie, cheat and steal we’ll welcome you into the Republican party and let you vote for us. I you plan to vote for Democrats, you and your hired writer get an F”. What could be more (or is it less ?) patriotic than that ?

                            T.C.

  • TomPaine

    The requirement to write letter is now “inoperative” and the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s advice was “premature.”

    Coutland Milloy has a timely column on this fiasco on the same page.  

    Governing can be difficult when one hates governing!