Dispatches from the Creation Wars

On ABC’s This Week, conservative David Brooks called Sarah Palin “a joke” but said newly elected Va. Governor Bob McDonnell is the future of the GOP because he’s “serious” and “pragmatic.”

She’s a joke. I mean, I just can’t take her seriously. We’ve got serious problems in the country. Barack Obama’s trying to handle war. We’ve just a had guy elected Virginia governor who’s probably the model for the future of the Republican Party, Bob McDonnell, pretty serious guy, pragmatic, calm, kind of boring. The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination — believe me, it’ll never happen. Republican primary voters are just not going to elect a talk show host.

Some of this is right and some of this is wrong. Yes, Palin is obviously a joke. As for whether the Republican party would vote for her in a primary, I think that depends on whether there are any sane, moderate people left in the party by 2012. If they keep up the “health care reform = Hitler” crap and keep chasing every moderate voice out of the party, there may not be anyone left but the kind of braindead ideologues who would vote for Palin.

But Bob McDonnell? A serious pragmatist who is easily distinguished from Palin? I don’t think so. McDonnell is a hardcore religious right ideologue with a whole range of crazy beliefs that he badly wants to shape the law around. Remember, this guy’s thesis at Regent University was actually titled The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family.

You can read the whole thesis here (PDF). He favors a whole range of crazy authoritarian ideas, like the notion that the government should be allowed to ban the sale and use of contraception even for married couples. Yeah, that’s an idea that’s gonna go over like a lead balloon outside the theocratic right.

He also argued forcefully in favor of government punishment for homosexuality and pornography, saying that “man’s basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter.” Maybe that’s why he actively opposed a rule in Virginia that the state government would not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Maybe it’s also why he said in a Virginia Assembly hearing he chaired in 2003 that gays could not serve as judges because homosexuality was illegal in Virginia (a law that was rightly overturned a mere 6 months later by the Lawrence v Texas decision.

McDonnell and Palin are two peas in a pod, both hard religious right ideologues with a penchant for authoritarian policies. The only difference between them is that McDonnell managed to fool people into thinking he wasn’t, while Palin isn’t bright enough to do that.