One of the political phenomena I enjoy the most is when Virginia Republicans from the evangelical wing try to repackage themselves for higher office. Robert McDonnell, candidate for governor, was doing a passable job until this week, when his 1989 master’s thesis was discovered . The paper is a classic of earnest Christian right activism of the late '80s. It’s too bad this PDF is not searchable, or one could have great fun : Find "fornicator," "feminist," homosexual," "abortion," "prayer in schools," "working women." Pick any culture war issue and young McDonnell has, in this paper, taken the most extreme side of it.
In the summation of the Washington Post , which broke the story, he described "working women and feminists as 'detrimental' to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over 'cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.' He described as 'illogical' a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples."
McDonnell’s response was that he should be judged by his 14 years in the General Assembly, not some paper he wrote as a kid. But, of course, as a legislator he has acted pretty much in keeping with what the blogosphere has taken to calling "Bob’s Manifesto ," calling for abortion restrictions, tax policies to favor the traditional family, opposing ending wage discrimination, and supporting the arcane notion of covenant marriage. It’s just that young Bob grew up, so he stopped talking like that.
You have to feel sorry for poor Bob. He didn’t write anything different than you could have read in 100 books-and no doubt college theses-during what was the birth of the Christian pro-family movement. It "was simply an academic exercise and clearly does not reflect my views," he told the Post.
Tell that to Sotomayor.
Photograph of Robert McDonnell by Waldo Jaquith.