Bob Franken

The Frightened Polical Candidates: Ashamed of Themselves?


The fundamental idea about the democracy we claim to be is that our leaders are chosen by an INFORMED electorate. The fact is that all to often we voters are MISinformed—deceived.

How refreshing it is then to witness the gyrations of one Bob McDonnell, the Republicans’ candidate for Governor of Virginia. It looks like he has revealed himself—unwittingly but we’ll take what we can get. Now we can be entertained as he tries to tap dance away from his written record of views about morality, women and family and sexuality that could be gently called arch-conservative.

He wrote the particularly revealing paper 20 years ago, while he was a student at Regency University, that Pat Robertson established college that would also fit into the far right category.

The thesis denounces in often strong language the idea of women in the workplace along with alternative lifestyles, contraception. He argues arguing “—every level of government should statutorily and procedurally prefer married couples over cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators—”. The document—his document— riddled throughout with similar language.

McDonnell is now scampering around making the claim he no longer holds those views. Many who know him say that he still does, it’s just that he doesn’t want people to know that when he’s running for office.

The question is: Why? Why shouldn’t we know the beliefs of those who run our governments and therefore much of our lives?

The truth is that in the political campaigns of modern times we are usually shielded from the truth. Consultants get paid huge amounts of money to camouflage their clients’ realities, to deflect any efforts at understanding what makes their candidate really tick. It begs the question, if they’re so ashamed, so embarrassed, why do they believe they would be anything but dismal leaders.

It’s bipartisan . Many of President Obama’s critics charge, with some justification, that he is not turning out to be what he presented himself to be as a candidate, bamboozling the voters as well as the adoring media.

It’s not just the curse of elections. Does anyone recall the last Supreme Court nominee who was forthright about his or her legal philosophy?

Oh yeah, there was Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan who was rejected in 1987 after he was candid about his views during Senate hearings. Out of that experience grew a cottage industry offering judicial obfuscation.

It was the wrong lesson. Instead of glossing over extremism, perhaps the better approach with be to avoid extremists.

As for the candidates, wouldn’t it be refreshing if our selection included those who were proud of themselves, not scared they will be found out.

There is little doubt Bob McDonnell, conservative that he is, was brought up to revere Barry Goldwater. Goldwater, when announcing he would run for President in 1964 proudly described himself as a “Choice not an echo”.

How times have changed.

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