I must admit to a fondness for the Washington Post editorial board, much like I once had fondness for The New Republic as the voice of the thoughtful and responsible center-left. I obviously find myself in disagreement with the Post, quite often, but I have found that under Fred Hiatt the editorial pages there have actually been often more fair than the news pages — not more conservative (although that, too, by a smidgen), but more fair: less apt to employ histrionics, less likely to skew arguments and to misrepresent the other side, etc.
But when election season rolls around, the Post editorials revert to liberal form. And the paper’s rage against conservative Virginia AG candidate Ken Cuccinelli knows no bounds. Last Friday, the Post dropped this stink-bomb entitled “Mr. Cuccinelli’s bigotry.” The Post was incensed about these comments of Mr. Cuccinelli: ” My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.”
The Post then wrote this absolute howler of a sentence: “Appeals to ‘natural law’ and ‘intrinsic’ rights and wrongs were the usual cliches deployed to justify the old-time religion of hatred then directed at African Americans, Jews, Italians, Irish and other immigrants.” Uh, well, NO, NO. NO. Last I checked, “natural law” provided the theoretical basis for the founding, embraced by Thomas Jefferson and most of the others who founded this great nation. As in: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights….”
In short, this sentence in the Post editorial is just laughably outrageous.
The rest of the editorial is over-the-top as well. It asserts that Cuccinelli — a thoughtful, constructive legislator who has shown diligence, compassion, and fairness on multiple issues — occupies “the far-right fringe of the party, the ultimate small tenter.” (It then attributes those thoughts to “many of his fellow Republicans,” a convenient formulation putting words in the mouths of others. Who, pray tell, are these “many… Republicans” who think this about Cuccinelli? If there are so many, why is Cuccinelli enjoying a large lead in the polls and overwhelming GOP support? One would think the Post is adult enough to avoid that refuge of scoundrels known as the “nameless ‘many'” formulation. One could just as easily say that many Washingtonians think the Washington Post editorial page is, oh, I dunno, perhaps “Communist.” I myself don’t believe that about the Post, and I would vigorously defend its editorial page from that charge — except that I don’t know where to aim my defense, since I don’t know who these “many” people are.) This “far-right fringe” allegation is utter nonsense; I meanwhile await the day when the Post will call John Holdren, Kevin Jennings, and other White House appointees the ‘far-left fringe” of the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, whether or not one agrees with Cuccinelli’s take on homosexual acts, it is not bigotry. Every person on earth has the right to disapprove of ACTS which they find offensive. An act is a choice; being black, Jew, Italian, etc., is not a choice.
Me? I think what people do in private is usually their own business. But the question is whether it is egregiously outrageous for a public official to hold Cuccinelli’s views.
I note that at a Catholic Church in the Washington area on Sunday, the priest noted in his homily that the Post’s editorial effectively called every single traditionalist Catholic a bigot. The Post, he said, insulted all of us. (Clarification: I myself am not Catholic. The “us” was the priest’s congregation.) The priest had a reasonable point, which begs this question:
Is the Post’s editorial page guilty of anti-Catholic bigotry?
(Or, more likely, is it just completely tone-deaf and guilty of a pathetically insular worldview which does not even come close to understanding the cultural views of those who aren’t part of the liberal self-anointed elite? Did it mean to insult every traditional Catholic in its reading audience? If not, then its cultural ignorance is astonishing.)
I believe the Post can do much better than this. And if polls are to be believed, it will have at least four full years to gain a better chance at understanding Cuccinelli, because Cuccinelli looks likely to become Attorney General, despite the Post’s overreactive fulminations against him.