We admit it: We’ve been more than a little harsh on U.S. Representative Thomas M. Davis III. We’ve criticized his lax oversight of the Bush Administration, too-cozy relationship with corporate lobbyists, unseemly interactions with federal contractors, and even the gutter-politics tone of his wife, Jeannemarie’s, state senate campaign. But lately, we must admit, we’ve actually started to feel a little sorry for the guy. Not only has he lost his House chairmanships to the new Democratic majority, but he’s had to abandon his dream of becoming a U.S. senator (after being thrown under a bus by the state Republican Party in favor of Jim Gilmore) and watch as his wife lost her brass-knuckle re-election fight to Democrat Chap Petersen. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to hear that the man has finally decided to call it quits after this, his sixth term in office.
U.S. Representative Tom Davis (pictured) is outshined in the imperfect department by Senator Ken Cuccinelli, whose piece of English-only legislation even he eventually had second thoughts about.
O.K., so he might have been a soulless, corporatist technocrat—but at least he was a moderate soulless, corporatist technocrat, and seemed genuinely interested in dragging his party back from the immigrant-bashing, xenophobic precipice it keeps threatening to leap off of. And so we’d like to take this opportunity to offer, with all sincerity, these words of praise for Representative Davis: You, sir, are far from the worst politician in Virginia.
No, this week that award has to go to state Senator Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli, from lovely Fairfax county, who perfectly represents the sort of egregious, voter-repelling intolerance that must make a guy like Tom Davis slap his forehead in frustration.
You’d think that Cuccinelli would be a bit chastened after his recent squeaker of a re-election, in which he bested Democrat Janet Oleszek by a whopping 101 votes. But circumspection is not the Cooch’s way, and so he went charging into his fourth Senate term with a piece of English-only legislation so daft, even he eventually had to reconsider it.
The bill (SB339, for all of you General Assembly geeks out there) would amend Virginia’s unemployment law to deny benefits to any employee fired for “inability or refusal to speak English at the workplace.” And, as if that weren’t draconian enough, Cuccinelli’s original draft actually read “to speak only English at the workplace,” meaning that an intolerant boss could fire you for shouting “aloha!” to your surfing buddies, and you wouldn’t get a dime. But even the Cooch realized that was taking things a bit far, so he graciously edited it to allow the occasional “hola” or “gesundheit!” Now that’s what we call the milk of human kindness, right there.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Assembly, Delegate Mark Cole of Fredericksburg was introducing HB1472, which seeks to update Virginia’s discrimination laws so that canning someone because they won’t (or can’t) speak English at work “shall not be deemed to constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin.” Gee, it’s so cute when these small-minded meatheads play together, isn’t it?
So there you go, Representative Davis—conclusive proof that, no matter what we may have written in the past, our opinion of you is nowhere near as low as it could be. So godspeed, and good luck in the private sector. Sure, we’ll miss your crafty, corporate-loving shenanigans, but —call us crazy—something tells us we’ll be seeing you around K Street for many profitable years to come.