Sunday, February 11, 2018

#1963: Bob McDonnell

Robert Francis McDonnell was the Governor of Virginia from 2010 to 2014. He is also a former Virginia house member and Attorney General. Currently, McDonnell is a “distinguished full professor” at Liberty University, the local fundamentalist pseudo-educational institution. His qualifications, apart from general religious right nuttery, include an MA/JD from the even less reputable Regent University (then Christian Broadcasting Network University), and his thesis there sparked some controversy when it was released to the public in 2009, though it didn’t prevent him from getting elected governor. McDonnell has later appeared in (utterly insane) promotional videos for Regent “University”’s school of law, offering a fake quote (“It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible”) he attributes to George Washington and claims never to have forgotten during his years as a politician. That’s pretty much how Bob McDonnell rolls.

In his Regent “University” thesis, The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade, McDonnell was largely concerned with increases in divorce rates and the number of children born in sin out of wedlock, the public policies he claimed contributed to those increases, and a set of proposed “solutions” that would later to a large extent function as his political platform (without remotely addressing the alleged problems they were supposed to address): opposition to abortion, support for school vouchers and covenant marriage, and tax policies favoring heterosexual families. According to McDonnell, government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” He also described working women and feminists as “detrimental” to the family and criticized the 1965 Supreme Court decision that legalized the use of contraceptives, writing that “man’s basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter.” After the thesis was released, McDonnell’s responded by refraining from endorsing its contents, but he didn’t renounce them either. He continued to be firmly opposed same-sex marriage, advocating a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

In 2010, McDonnell also issued a proclamation designating April 2010 “Confederate History Month”, a proclamation notable for failing to mention slavery. When confronted with that omission, McDonnell responded by saying that “there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.”

At a more personal level, McDonnell is heavily into woo, and he and his wife have received some criticism for improper spending at the Executive Mansion on items like energy drinks and “detox cleanses”. The corruption charges he faced in 2014 (later dismissed) also concerned large sums of money he received from one Jonnie Williams Sr., former CEO of Star Scientific, a company developing questionable “supplements”. (His old protégé Pat Robertson offered up some particularly insane defense strategies during the trial)

Diagnosis: Oh, he’s far from the worst loon to be elected to public office. But good grief: McDonnell is nevertheless a serious loon.

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