Matt Ingoglia: Will the real Bob McDonnell please stand up?

Do you view working women as “detrimental” to the family? Have thoughts of unmarried couples buying contraceptives kept you up at night? Oh, and don’t you just hate how the government prioritizes those pesky “cohabitators, homosexuals, and fornicators” over husbands and wives?

If you answered in the affirmative to any of those questions, you’d love Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell, as these gems comprise key sections of his recently unearthed 1989 graduate school thesis.

Of course, the vast majority of us see such comments as reprehensible at best and blatantly hateful at worst. The Washington Post has already christened the scandal McDonnell’s “Macaca moment” in reference to the bigoted gaffe that sunk the re-election hopes of former Virginia Sen. George Allen (R). That’s shocking enough – but the campaign’s damage control tactics might actually prove more despicable than the words themselves.

According to McDonnell’s staff, who over the past week have probably slept even less than the average GW student, their candidate has shunned his prior positions and today espouses more mainstream views. You see, we mustn’t fault McDonnell for the ideas he harbored as a student, since maturity and fatherhood have shown him the error of his ways and account for his moderate positions today. Indeed, the success of McDonnell’s campaign thus far is likely due to his focus on pocketbook issues like the economy and an avoidance of the radical conservative gospel featured in his thesis.

On the surface, this seems perfectly reasonable. After all, who hasn’t written something for a class and disagreed with it later? But if you delve a bit deeper into this story, you’ll realize that McDonnell is playing Virginians for fools.

These simply are not the youthful rants of a onetime conservative firebrand. In fact, McDonnell authored his incendiary thesis at the age of 34, shortly before his maiden run for public office and after the birth of his first two daughters. I wonder how he would react if some politician tried to prohibit either of them from pursuing careers.

And these weren’t just spontaneous thoughts, either; they characterized McDonnell’s sweeping vision for the Republican Party, which ordered its candidates to ignore the separation of church and state by adopting a radical conservative platform. That might have worked before Virginia voted for the first black president last November, but it won’t fly today.

Now, I don’t knock McDonnell for running from his words faster than Usain Bolt at the 100-meter dash. But I do blame him for trying to put one over on the people of Virginia, who know better than to elect extremists like him. Politically speaking, this man has gotten away with plenty for the past two decades, and only under the unforgiving light of this campaign will his intolerance percolate to the surface, his credibility evaporate, and his handlers defiantly obfuscate the facts.

Sadly, the College Republicans lent McDonnell their bully pulpit at their kickoff event last Wednesday, even in spite of these revelations. It would have been nice to see the CRs rescind their invitation.

Instead, they hosted a man who within my lifetime railed against responsible birth control and the notion of a working woman. Obviously he didn’t mention the controversy, and his evasiveness was rewarded with cheers from the friendly audience. Much of the rhetoric centered on economic issues, echoing the McDonnell campaign’s slogan “Bob’s 4 Jobs.”

I wonder if that includes the women who comprise 56 percent of GW’s student body, most of whom are probably looking for a “detrimental” career outside the home.

The writer, a junior majoring in political communication, is the communications director for the GW College Democrats.

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