Sometimes, I think that Bob McDonnell is trying to create some sort of dubious record for screw ups that will last far beyond my – or his – lifetime. His latest is his refusal to comment on the most recent outrage of teammate Ken Cuccinelli, who’s refusing to join 48 other state attorneys general in filing amicus briefs supporting Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq, who is suing Westboro Baptist “Church” in Kansas for disrupting his son’s 2006 funeral in Maryland with anti-gay and anti-American screaming demonstrations.
It boggles my mind that McDonnell has found a way to botch so many things in such a short time. After all, he’s been in office only four months and 2 weeks, but he’s wasted no time in creating controversy and making Virginia look foolish, all the while appearing inept and indecisive.
It all started just days into his administration when the new governor refused to include sexual orientation in his non-discrimination order. Not only did McDonnell say that protecting the employment rights of gay Virginians was not the job of the governor, but he also reversed a final order by former Gov. Tim Kaine that would have allowed unmarried partners of state employees, including same-sex partners, the right to buy into state health plans.
After a national uproar about that action, McDonnell did his first side-step, vainly hoping to undo the mess. He issued an executive directive that stated that he would not tolerate any discrimination in state employment. (Of course, at about the same time he also refused to take a position on attorney general Ken Cuccinelli’s letter to state colleges and universities telling them that they had no legal authority to add sexual preference as a category in their non-discrimination policies.)
I never could understand McDonnell’s rationale. He said he was opposed to any discrimination in employment but only the legislature could ban discrimination based on sexual preference. If that were true, he simply could have encouraged the Republicans in control of the House of Delegates to pass legislation remedying that. He did no such thing, showing his true colors. As we were soon to find out, that was just the first of McDonnell’s actions guaranteed to damage the image of the Commonwealth.
Debacle of Confederate History Month
McDonnell decided to follow the example of former Gov. George “Macaca” Allen in reviving the proclamation of April as “Confederate History Month.” The two Democratic governors after Allen, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, passed up that one. Plus, unlike the proclamation of the state’s last Republican governor before McDonnell, Jim Gilmore, McDonnell made no mention of slavery in his proclamation. Instead, he just asked that the month be used to “understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.” (Let me translate: “Understand the sacrifices of only white Virginians during the Civil War.”)
After yet another national uproar, McDonnell backtracked again and amended his proclamation to say the slavery was a disgraceful chapter in American history. Furthermore, he had to apologize personally to several prominent black Virginians who had actually bought into his claim of being a “moderate conservative.”
Oil Drilling Conundrum
As the BP oil spill continues its second month of spewing massive amounts of oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and threatening wildlife and the livelihoods of thousands of Gulf residents, McDonnell has yet again taken a weird position, trying to straddle his previous love for offshore oil drilling and the reality of the unfolding crisis.
McDonnell told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that while he understands President Obama’s decision to cancel pending deep water lease sales for at least six months, pending the outcome of a study of the crisis, he rejects that decision and opposes it. Huh?
“I do not believe outright cancellation was the only alternative given the fact that this sale was not due to occur until two years from now, and actual drilling would likely take place years after that,” McDonnell stated, finally admitting what critics of his phony “transportation plan” said back during his campaign against Creigh Deeds. No money could be realized from offshore drilling for many years.
(If the possible scenario that KathyinBlacksburg’s recent post poses does come to pass and oil flows up the Atlantic coast, McDonnell will have a really big problem explaining his position to the angry residents of coastal Virginia! Maybe he can invite Sarah Palin to come down and help him explain it.)
Refusal To Take a Stand on Ken Cuccinelli’s Actions
Instead of reining in the extreme, right-wing craziness of his ticket mate Ken Cuccinelli, McDonnell periodically hides behind some bland statement about how the latest insane action Cooch takes is somehow the sole responsibility of the attorney general. In addition to the attorney general refusing to join those 48 other state legal officials in the suit against Westboro Baptist’s bigoted, hate-filled demonstrations, McDonnell has also backhandedly justified Cuccinelli’s lawsuits against the EPA and the recently passed federal health reform program, as well as his demand that UVa ignore academic freedom and turn over all information about work done there by climatologist Dr. Michael Mann.
Professed Ignorance of Fred Malek’s Background
When asked about the background of Fred Malek, recently named by McDonnell to head a commission that will recommend ways to cut state government, McDonnell said that he “did not know about this background.”
So, we are supposed to believe that McDonnell did not know that Malek was Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” once making a list of Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics who would be purged. Also, McDonnell professed ignorance about a $100,000 fine the SEC levied against Malek for actions in 1998 by his private equity firm. I guess Malek’s gigantic campaign contributions to Republicans over the years blinded McDonnell to the man’s faults.
I can’t even figure out what’s worse, naming someone with Malek’s personal history to head a high-profile commission or saying outright that his administration doesn’t bother to do background checks for people in his administration. I certainly agree with the comments of State Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico).
“To ever tolerate corruption and illegal activity is totally unacceptable. For Governor McDonnell to…say he was unaware of these details, and ignorant of a six-figure fine, is absolutely stunning and, frankly, beyond belief,” McEachin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
There have been so many of these missteps that I’ve probably missed a couple, but I know there will be another in a week or two…