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Cuccinelli: The Scary Winner at the Tea Party
Any political ambitions that the highly ambitious attorney general might have had got a huge boost when the Cooch got a standing ovation at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Everywhere, along with “Guns Save Lives” paste-on paper slogans, there were Cuccinelli stick-ons. Cars in the parking lot across the street were slathered in pro-Cooch propaganda.
It may not be so hard to understand why the Tea Partiers like him. Fairly affluent with incomes of from $50,000 to $100,000, white, and middle aged the Tea Partiers project the resentment of outsiders not unlike the 1960s’ “Silent Majority” angry with civil rights, the sex revolution and underclass “welfare” that Richard M. Nixon so skillfully tapped.
Cooch is perfect for them. He’s a loose cannon, bows to no larger power and is unabashedly hard right whether he’s taking on imagined fraud in global warming research, peddling questionable legal opinions on police power on stopping suspected immigrants or making certain that gays and lesbians have no legal right to protection against discrimination on public college campuses.
Given the groundswell of support for him by the masses at the convention center, it is clear where they are really coming from. Fellow bloggers may try to paint the event as a truly diverse, sincere and sympathetic gathering (one blogger even said he has decided to “endorse” the movement and is now a “patriot” as if we couldn’t wait for his decision). But the fact is that what you are really seeing is a big move to the far right among the conservative movement.
This is what is frightening. More traditional Republicans such as George Allen, Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling all hustled to get a place at the Tea Party table. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor wisely didn’t show up. Say what you want about these politicians, but they aren’t imbued with a kind of self-righteous fanaticism. With the exception of Cantor, they seem willing to compromise and at least consider, to varying degrees, the views of others.
Not so the Cooch. He sees himself as stubbornly correct in his convictions. When an Albemarle County judge kissed off his “civil investigative demands” against the University of Virginia and a former professor who is an expert on global warming, Cuccinelli charged back with a scaled down attack. This one involves a state global warming research grant whose state funding totaled less than the $350,000 or so that U.Va.’s alumni and other community members have coughed up to fight off Cuccinelli’s first attacks.
Its this kind of single mindedness that would make Cuccinelli downright dangerous if he were to attain higher office such as governor or in Congress. There would be no room to consider the views others. Whatever the “Cooch” thinks is morally correct. It is a quality of certainty that could date back to the Jesuits which ran a private high school in Washington that Cuccinelli attended. I attended another such high school in the D.C. area and I while I have great respect for the Society of Jesus, I can sniff out a certain strain of righteousness that should give one pause.
The Tea Partiers running around with their funny tri-cornered hats, anti-Obama stickers, and 9 mm. automatic pistols in slick Velcro holsters may not realize what they are getting into by giving Cuccinelli a jet-assisted political boost. Lots of politicians have cleverly exploited the politics of resentment even though it didn’t seem to me that the Tea Partiers were particularly down and out. Well-fed and well-dressed, they seemed just as interested in taking the U.S. back five or six decades to some wonderful and imaginary White Toast era than in affecting decent change.
The most important single political statement they came was backing some kind of constitutional amendment letting states shun federal laws they don’t like. It is the same logic used by the Southern racists to shun integration back in the 1950s and 1960s. Imagine if we had someone in office as self-assured and single-minded as Cuccinelli to oversee such as states’ rights campaign.
If that were to happen, the Tea Partiers would see violations of civil rights beyond their wildest dreams.