Bob McDonnell's Old, Old Thoughts on Bad, Bad Women


Melinda Henneberger

Editor in Chief
Oh fellow W'Uppers, I just have time for a quickie on my way out the door -- no jokes, please – but I do want to draw your attention to this story in Tuesday's Washington Post on Virginia's Republican gubernatorial nominee, Bob McDonnell, whose master's thesis, written when he was still unformed and impressionable – OK, he was 34 – "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."

Now what Mr. McD says is that positions he held 20 years ago should have no bearing on his current campaign. (Sort of like how John Kerry's Vietnam-era views were too dated to matter?) Plus, he'd almost forgotten about it. (Like Bill Clinton smoking pot?) Also, his perspective has shifted and evolved. (As Hillary Clinton's has in the decades since she finished her college paper on Saul Alinsky?) On top of which, the whole thing was "an academic exercise.'' (Geez, he's not going to drag context into this discussion is he, a la Sonia Sotomayor explaining the "wise Latina'' remark that for a while there seemed like the only thought to which she had ever given voice?) Next he'll be telling us he had a tummy ache at the time.

Anyway, it is of course up to Virginians to decide if they want to elect someone whose oeuvre includes musings on the extensive damage done by working women. (Uh-oh, he's on to us!) But one of the many things that irks me about this particular bit of woman hating is his attempt to pass his kook ideas off as a Catholic thing. (Does the phrase, "There is neither Jew nor gentile, neither man nor woman, neither slave nor free'' ring any bells? Some really good master's theses on Jesus as an early feminist are widely available, too, just FYI.) I do love that the only the reason the Post even knew about the darn thing is that he brought it up in an interview; it really is true that people will tell you who they are, eventually.

Yet is it true, I wonder, that party activists are "convinced that McDonnell is being unfairly attacked over an old academic paper''? I never understand partisans on either side who assume their guy is always in the right; what a lot of mental gymnastics that must require. Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) told the paper that "attendees Sunday at a Republican Women's Club rally in Fairfax said they were incensed over what they called a 'hatchet job.' '' Republican women of Fairfax, is that really what you think?