My first thought upon hearing about Robert McDonnell’s moronic 1989 thesis was that it ought to be ignored. We all go through regrettably earnest periods in our teens and twenties; it’s unkind to judge other people by the feeble intellectual output of their past selves. And McDonnell says he ought to be judged by his legislative record, which also appears to be crazy, so nothing much changes if we grant him this.
But then I checked Wikipedia and realized that McDonnell was older than your average master’s student; according to Wikipedia, he was 35, an age at which a little more perspective might be expected. At any rate, before he even starts warming up for what he now calls an "academic exercise," before the fetishization of corporal punishment and no-fault divorce and condom-free marital relations, he chooses to thank his wife this way:
I am deeply grateful to my wife Maureen, whose encouragement and expert clerical support helped turn marginally-legible scratch, into these finished pages, [sic] and whose steadfastness and love for our children provided me with the time to devote to this project.
What a perfect summation of the model wife in this worldview: A steadfast, expert provider of clerical support! Now there's a vision to strive for. Put this man in office!
Photograph by Getty Images.