(UPDATE: Climate Progress calls this an “absurdly soft ball profile,” says you’d never know if you read it that Cooch is “an anti-science pro-pollution extremist,” and comments sarcastically about Cooch’s “post-normal science.” What a joke – both Cooch and the Washington Post. – promoted by lowkell)
It seemed an unlikely match. He, a 42-year-old right wing conservative, using Virginia state government as a tool of ideological warfare. She, a 133-year-old matron, winner of countless journalism awards and often accused (by conservatives) of being “liberal.” Yet – perhaps in rebellion against those cruel charges – she has now decided to hook up with the last guy you’d expect to see her arm in arm with. As the old Joe Jackson song asks: “Is she really going out with him?”
Apparently so. The first sign of flirting came back in May when the Post’s Rosalind Helderman wrote an article about Cooch’s conflicts with the state’s “fiercely independent and largely liberal universities.” Just in case you didn’t catch the “liberal” reference, the article noted gravely:
In so doing, Cuccinelli has turned his attentions to a target that has long vexed conservatives. For many of them, college campuses are home to liberal elites, places that claim to value academic freedom but demand allegiance to left-wing views and pass them on to students.
That article trivialized Cooch’s attack on university civil rights protections for gays as well as his stunning attempt to criminalize climate change research with which he disagrees, by making the whole matter sound like one of those “he said, she said” political conflicts in which nobody’s wrong.
And that article gave Cooch the opportunity to portray himself as the brave warrior taking on injustice at all costs:
“It’s not appropriate for me to be concerned about risk to my political standing in my decision-making,” he said recently. “I deal with the [political] consequences of decisions I make that I believe to be appropriate decisions as part of my job, but I don’t change those decisions because of the expected consequences.”
Fast forward to today’s Washington Post Magazine article by David Montgomery, “The Rise of the Confounding Conservative” which paints our Ayatollah General as nothing short of a crusading folk hero.
If you want to get the gist of this article, all you have to do is read a collection of the pull quotes:
He’s sued the federal government over health care. He’s crusaded to support sexual assault victims. And he knows all the words to “Rapper’s Delight.” Just who is Ken Cuccinelli?
Insisting on what he calls principle has earned Cuccinelli a certain reputation for authenticity. Supporters and detractors agree: What you see is what you get.
“His priorities are God, me, the children and everything else,” Teiro Cuccinelli says. “What makes him more than what most people perceive is his very deep-rooted emotion.”
A reliable conservative vote on abortion, immigration and gun rights, Cuccinelli favored more government involvement on mental health.
Principle. Authenticity. God, family and deep-rooted emotion. Defender of sexual assault victims and the mentally ill. The only question left is: who will play him in the inspirational made-for-TV movie?
In fact, following the ancient conventions of the dinosaur media, this article tips its hand in the very first paragraph. Cooch, then a UVA student, “at his desk past midnight, laboring over calculus homework”, is awakened by a scream and driven to become a champion of the rights of sexual assault victims.
This is not a tale of politics, religious fanaticism or ideological overreach. No, this is a tale of heroism!
The author includes quotes from Steve Shannon, Scott Surovell, and Chap, but seems to always use the most innocuous quote he can find, like Surovell saying that Cooch “has an odd way of not taking himself too seriously.” Ouch, that hurt!
The article strives mightily to soften the man’s image, calling him a “Monty Python aficionado”, a fan of the first big rap song and former alter ego of Gonzaga High School mascot the Eagle. But even the latter is portrayed as a sign of his incredible character, as a former dean proclaims: “They’re not going to put a shrinking violet in there.”
It also tries to justify his bizarre positions, saying of his quixotic stance against national health care: “Some mainstream constitutional scholars agree.” His effort to outlaw gay rights on college campuses is described as just too coldly written, with Cooch claiming that, despite that, he still got the law right.
Blatant contradictions are ignored. His rare departures from conservative orthodoxy are highlighted, like his defense of George Mason University’s ban on guns on campus: “Cuccinelli says he was merely fulfilling his duty to mount a zealous defense of his clients.” He-llo, might this reporter ask why Cooch is defending one university as his client while at the same time acting like the Grand Inquisitor against UVA, in his over the top and unconstitutional attack on climate change research there?
No, the author wisely stays away from that battle, which would be hard to square with his hagiographic profile of Cuccinelli as Virginia’s brave and earnest defender of justice and liberty.
Near the end of the article, an admirer tells Cooch that he looks forward to voting for him for president in 2020, and our reluctant hero says “I don’t see that happening.” Indeed, he is so willing to cede the spotlight that he plans to let Virginia’s solicitor general argue the health care case before the Supreme Court if and when it gets there. Oh, reluctant warrior!
And so the heartwarming tale ends, with our hero in the arms of one of America’s most respected newspapers. You can only wonder: if they have a child together, what would it look like?