Terry McAuliffe is nothing if not predictable. He’s a career political operative whose forays into the business world have been marked by cronyism, corruption and bankruptcy. Without a record to speak of — and he wants no one to speak of it — Mr. McAuliffe has built his campaign on reckless attacks on his Republican opponent, state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
The McAuliffe strategy is so transparent that Mr. Cuccinelli correctly previewed Mr. McAuliffe’s next round of attacks at a Sept. 29 campaign event in Annandale. “We saw them in 2012,” said Mr. Cuccinelli of the Democratic attacks in that presidential campaign. “They’re basically using the 2012 cookie-cutter.” He was recycling President Obama’s campaign theme of the mythical “war on women.”
“The next thing coming is,” Mr. Cuccinelli told the gathering, “They’re going to start talking about contraception.” Two days later, the McAuliffe campaign put up a campaign commercial opening with a shot of birth-control pills, with a narrator intoning ominously that if Mr. Cuccinelli had had his way as a state senator, he would have made “common forms of birth control illegal, including the pill.” Then the Planned Parenthood Votes organization raised the ante, buying $1 million in radio and TV time to accuse Mr. Cuccinelli of planning to interfere “with access to birth control.”
To declare war on women would require Mr. Cuccinelli to be a very brave man, indeed. He married his high school sweetheart, and he’s the father of five daughters (and two sons), and if he were of a mind to declare war on women, he would be foolish indeed going to war outnumbered 2 to 1 in his own household.
Trying to make access to contraceptives an issue is equally specious. Mr. Cuccinelli couldn’t make birth-control devices against the law even if he wanted to. The Supreme Court took the issue away from the states nearly 50 years ago with its 7-2 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, overturning a state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives.
Mr. Cuccinelli says the government’s only role in regulating birth control is preventing adults from dispensing it to minors without their parents’ knowledge. “I just don’t think government has anything to do with [contraceptives],” he said, “except making sure parents have primacy with their own children.”
Virginia voters saw through the phony “war on women” rhetoric hurled at Bob McDonnell in 2009. Democrats thought they had the keys to the governor’s mansion in hand when The Washington Post discovered Mr. McDonnell’s graduate-school thesis at Regent University, written 20 years earlier, advocating among other things opposition to abortion and support for tax policy favoring heterosexual families. The thesis, more than 90 pages long, also sharply criticized the Griswold decision. The Post tried to make the graduate-school thesis the only substantive issue in the campaign. Mr. McDonnell nevertheless won with 58.6 percent of the vote. Mr. Cuccinelli was elected attorney general in a similar walk, with 57.5 percent.
In his time as Virginia’s top law enforcement officer, Mr. Cuccinelli demonstrated that he would follows the law, not his personal opinion of what the law should be. He wrote an opinion upholding the use of revenue cameras, for example, even though he had opposed them as a deceitful way of raising revenue, and promised to eliminate them.
Honesty, character and integrity set Ken Cuccinelli apart from Terry McAuliffe. Mr. McAuliffe tries to get what he wants with backroom political dealing and public peddling of smarm and avarice. Virginians can see through the deception, making his candidacy a tough pill to swallow.