To be honest, even we didn’t see this coming. Sure, as practiced impassionate political observers, we knew in our hearts that the unprecedented lurch to the left represented by Barack Obama’s Virginia presidential win would almost certainly be followed by a corresponding backlash bounce to the right. But never in our wildest dreams did we suspect that, barely a year later, our beloved commonwealth would be on the vanguard of an incipient secessionist movement, with our newly-elected attorney general gleefully salivating at the chance to fight the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court.
Leader of the pack: Is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli encouraging the wild side of the state legislature?
How did this happen? Well, there can be no doubt that a sizable portion of President Obama’s voters—on both the left and the right—have been disappointed by the slow pace of reform in Washington, and completely disgusted by the ongoing profiteering in the bailed-out banking sector. But the true culprit, in our very humble opinion, is the fatal combination of a catastrophic recession and a completely shameless opposition (aided and abetted by Fox News). Buffeted by the triple whammy of declining income, poor job prospects, and a conspiratorial cavalcade of fear mongering and hyperbole from the right, many of Virginia’s low-information voters have done one of two things: tuned out, or grabbed their guns and started spit-polishing their tinfoil hats.
And no one in Richmond has done more to fuel this paranoid populism than Virginia’s new AG, Ken Cuccinelli. From the digital pages of his e-mail newsletter, the “Cuccinelli Compass” (where he jokes about “30+ inches of global snowing” and warns his supporters that sinister Congress critters “have made incandescent light bulbs illegal. So, stock up now!”), to the welcoming environs of the Fox Business Channel (where he told Neil Cavuto that he was “looking forward” to taking on the U.S. Government over healthcare), Cuccinelli has become a one-man Tea Party message machine.
The problem with having such a fringe figure as Virginia’s top cop, however, is that all of the loons in the legislature feel emboldened to be even crazier than usual. Thus we’re treated to the spectacle of Delegate Mark Cole trying to outlaw the implantation of microchips in humans because, as he told the Washington Post, “there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times. Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.” Or, even nuttier, Delegate Bob Marshall recently opining that children born with disabilities are actually God’s punishment for having an abortion. (His comment? “Because when you abort the first-born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.” Outrage and apologies ensued.)
Yes, this is the level that our public discourse has sunk to. And believe us, we’re nowhere close to hitting the bottom of the cuckoo bin. In fact, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if, this time next year, the Old Dominion has gone from voting Barack Obama into office to arguing Virginia v. United States in front of the Supreme Court. Crazy times, indeed.