We know it’s hard to believe, but there was once a time—way back when polling places had hitching posts and no legislative chamber was considered complete without a spittoon—that political races were completely ignored before Labor Day. No, really—there were no early opinion polls, no third-party attack ads, no nothin’! In fact, a fellow could go an entire summer without hearing the phrase “inherent incumbent advantage” even once.
Boy, talk about the dark ages. What the heck did people do with themselves all summer? Read books? It makes our obsessive blog-scrolling fingers tremble just to think about it.
Thanks, Bob McDonnell, for giving us a Kenny Loggins moment when we least expected it.
Still, there’s something to be said for tradition. So it was nice—in that quaint, “Look at that horse-and-buggy on the highway” sort of way—to see this year’s gubernatorial gladiators, Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds, strolling merrily along amidst a bevy of high school beauties and tiny Shriner cars in Buena Vista’s annual “Laborfest” parade last week. (By the way, is it just us, or does the name “Laborfest” seem a tad socialistic for the rural, red-blooded heart of the Fox News nation?)
Of course, even as McDonnell and Deeds were busy “kicking off” the campaign season with pancakes and hearty handshakes, some pundits were already calling the race all but over. After all, McDonnell has held a sizeable lead in the polls for months, and even as recently as September 4, SurveyUSA showed the Republican up 12 percentage points over Deeds, despite a solid week of saturation coverage focused on McDonnell’s 1989 Regent University thesis, “Building a Bridge to the 17th Century.”
O.K., we kid. The thesis was actually titled “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Future,” and in it McDonnell righteously condemned “feminists,” “cohabitators” and “fornicators,” while solemnly opining that “Man’s basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter.”
Seriously, if that kind of invective can’t knock McDonnell out of the lead, then what possibly can? Perhaps we’ve just been misjudging Virginia’s citizenry all along, and what the commonwealth’s voters really want is a good spanking from their stern, bible-thumping daddy.
But Lord, we sure hope not. The last thing we need is to try to find something fun to write about once Virginia turns into a soul-crushing version of that dead-end town from Footloose.
Come on, Deeds! We know you’re not exactly Kevin Bacon, but surely you can figure out some way to keep this monumental buzzkill from seizing the levers of government. It shouldn’t be all that hard—especially since the Washington Post seems intent on spotlighting at least one inflammatory McDonnell remark a week until the election. (The latest involves a 2003 interview in which McDonnell said, “I’m not telling you I would disqualify a judge per se if he said he was gay. I’m talking about their actions.”)
Now, we’re not saying you should strap on your glitter-bedecked hightops and throw an anti-authoritarian dance party or anything. But then again, rumor has it that you do a mean Funky Chicken—and if that doesn’t win you the election, nothing will.