There’s one big problem with being a voracious political junkie: Sometimes, in order to help you, our gentle reader, we have to read a thuddingly dull, solipsistic political treatise like "The Stupid Party," a recent article by UVA politics prof Jim Ceaser published in the (increasingly inconsequential) right-wing mouthpiece, The Weekly Standard. Sure, it’s got an intriguing title, but it doesn’t take more than a paragraph to realize that Ceaser’s article is just another garden-variety jeremiad against the progressive wing of the Democratic party, right down to the gratuitous potshots at MoveOn.org’s "network of techno-thugs" and the coven of liberal fetishists who apparently run our nation’s universities.
Congressman Tom Davis said on a recent radio report that a moderate Republican such as himself could win in Virginia because it’s "one-third Northern Virginia and the rest Alabama." Now that he’s bowed out of the Senate race, we don’t have to worry about any more bad geography lessons.
Of course, Ceaser doesn’t actually provide any concrete examples of Democratic politicians doing moronic things to earn this label (originally coined by the English wit John Stuart Mill to describe American conservatives, by the way), which is a real shame. After all, if there’s one thing politicians are good at, it’s doing stupid things—so why bore the hell out of your readers with a load of generic platitudes when there’s so much actual idiocy out there to document? And so, as a favor, we decided to do Ceaser’s work for him, searching far and wide (all the way from Google to Ask.com) to see if we could really figure out which of our illustrious state parties truly deserves the "Stupid" sticker.
We started with the Democrats, because we wanted to give Ceaser’s thesis a fair shake. And sure enough, it didn’t take us very long to find one of the most bone-headed pieces of political advertising this election cycle, courtesy of Delegate Paula Miller, a Democrat who represents Norfolk’s 87th District. Seems that her opponent, James Griffin, is a retired vice admiral and ex-commander of the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet Surface Force. So how does Miller decide to attack her opponent’s seemingly sterling credentials? She dregs up a decade-old case involving a philandering admiral who funneled Navy contracts to his mistress, and then accuses Griffin of "conduct unbecoming an officer" because he was in charge of the case, and ended up imposing only a $7,000 fine and 30 days of house arrest for the amorous admiral. Oh, Paula—for someone who represents a heavily military district, you sure don’t know much about winning the all-important horny sailor vote.
Pretty dumb stuff—but what of the Republicans? Well, for an appropriately retarded rejoinder, we turn to Congressman Tom Davis—he of the perpetually simmering senate campaign that, as of last Thursday, was finally yanked off the stove for good. Which is probably for the best, since Davis has recently been exhibiting all of the classic signs of advanced foot-in-mouth disease (or, as it’s known around these parts, "Macaca Mouth"). Just take his recent chat with WTOP radio reporter Mark Plotkin, during which he cheerfully explained that a moderate Republican such as himself could win a statewide race because Virginia is "one-third Northern Virginia and the rest Alabama." Nice—I’m sure that the lower two-thirds of the Commonwealth just couldn’t wait to vote for a guy who wants to cede them to the Heart of Dixie. With campaigning skills like that, it’s no wonder that Rep. Davis ultimately decided that tilting at the Mark Warner windmill would be more trouble than it’s worth.
So there you go, Professor Ceaser—in 10 minutes of surfing the political information superhighway, we have conclusively proven that the "Stupid" crown fits equally well on the heads of Democrats and Republicans alike. And really, we’ve just scratched the surface. I mean, did you hear that Virgil Goode recently reached into his own pocket to contribute to Rep. John Doolittle, the congressman whose Northern Virginia house was raided by the FBI in connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal last April? Come on, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel out here—you really should take your head out of your ass long enough to try it.