Monday, April 6, 2009

Roanoke Times Scolds McDonnell, McAuliffe, and Deeds Campaigns

The Roanoke Times editorializes on Mike Huckabee's thoughtless jokes (here and here) at Republican rallies for gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell:
He jokingly urged Republicans to let the air out of Democrats' tires and do whatever it takes to keep them from turning up at the voting booth in November. He called it "the Lord's work."

It was a bad joke, not funny, especially when allegations of voter suppression still dog elections. The Republicans who heard him laughed along, compounding the slap at the most fundamental right of our democracy. Maybe he could make some equally tasteless Polish joke next.

Worse than his lame attempt at humor was Huckabee's attempt to reinforce the urban-rural divide in Virginia. He would have Republicans play Northern Virginia against the rest of the state. That sort of divisive politics might work well on the national stage, but it has no place in this year's gubernatorial race. The next governor must represent all Virginians, not just the ones Huckabee thinks live in the right place.

The editorial board, for the second day in a row, scolds McDonnell for not dumping Huckabee, then and there, and re-focusing on the issues. And they offered similar rebuke to Terry McAullife and Creigh Deeds, who "could not resist attacking," for "overreacting" and, therefore, giving the jokes "wider play than they warranted." As such:

The campaigns owe Virginians an apology for derailing what had been shaping up into a substantive governor's race.

While I won't and can't defend Huckabee's poor taste in jokes, I too thought the outcry against the jokes was a little over the top. They clearly were jokes, just very bad ones, and I seriously doubt that Huckabee genuinely endorses voter suppression tactics. I, however, am not sure that McAuliffe and Deeds deserved this condemnation, as they were rightfully doing their jobs in calling out divisive rhetoric, no matter the harmless and humorous intent. And, funny how in rebuking McAuliffe and Deeds for giving Huckabee's jokes wider play, this editorial highlights his jokes for at least another day.

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