Women's Issues Are About to Torpedo Bob McDonnell's Campaign

The media spotlight is on gubernatorial hopeful Robert McDonnell who is currently launching his 2009 campaign for governor of Virginia. McDonnell finds himself in hot water for his 1989 thesis, which outlines a position hostile to women's interests and feminism.

"That was 20 years ago," has been the rallying cry of McDonnell's supporters.

Well, fine. 1989 was ages ago, even if the fashions are still with us. But then, how do you explain what you've been doing for most of your career? As the Washington Post article states:

The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families — a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.

Wait a minute. That time frame just shrank from twenty years to eight years. What's up with that?

Then McDonnell tries to play the "I can't be sexist, I have a wife and a daughter" card. Through a statement, McDonnell explains:

[H]e is "fully supportive of the tremendous contributions women make in the workplace. My wife and daughters work. My campaign manager in 2005 was a working mother. I appointed 5 women to my senior staff as Attorney General."

His website even runs with this idea even further, listing testimonials from various women who have worked with McDonnell to explain that he really supports strong women.

Judy Ford Wason, Williamsburg says:

"I know and have confidence in Bob McDonnell. He respects and surrounds himself with strong working women. His daughter served our nation in Iraq. His campaign manager in 2005 was a working mom.

And Janet Polarek, Richmond says:

I speak with direct experience when I say unequivocally that Bob McDonnell supports and champions working moms. He is a true friend to the working mothers of Virginia."

So I guess being a "true friend" doesn't extend to advocating for equal pay.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine ran in to kick McDonnell while he's down - in an email sent to his core base, Kaine writes:

All people are entitled to their personal beliefs. After years of working with Bob, I believe this article is an accurate reflection of his sincere and long-standing views. But I do not believe that this philosophy, which Bob has worked strenuously to implement as an elected official, is the right direction for Virginia. In fact, I think it would take us backwards and jeopardize much of the success we have achieved in the Commonwealth in recent years.

Creigh Deed's basic governing philosophy is simple – what is best for Virginia. That has been his hallmark during his legislative career and no one voting for Creigh would have to wonder whether he had another agenda.

Burn. But we rolled right into the hard sell, so I wouldn't count this as a TKO.

Ultimately, it is important to maintain a solid grip on the facts presented. I'm sure most of us would say that our views on certain topics do change as time goes by and life goes on. Many of us would not want to be judged on something we wrote twenty years ago.

But it's a little hard to advocate that kind of position when you have a public voting record that demonstrates just how similar the 1989 vision matches the 2009.

'89 Thesis A Different Side of McDonnell [Washington Post]
Virginia Women Respond to Latest Deeds Attack [McDonnell for Governor]
Kaine: McDonnell thesis an 'accurate reflection' of views [The Politico]