The national media are outraged this week by an announcement from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to observe April as Confederate History Month.
Several news outlets have jumped on the story, but the most energetic complaints came from the Washington Post, which published more than half a dozen pieces in the same day.
At this point it's safe to say the Post suffers from McDonnell Derangement Syndrome.
During last year's campaign, the Post enthusiastically endorsed his Democrat challenger, went into overdrive to push a faux-scandal that backfired rather epically, and then, upon McDonnell winning, immediately set to work undermining him with demands for higher taxes.
Some six months later, the animosity lives on as McDonnell tries to shore up Virginia's economy by emphasizing its historical significance. Observe this entry Wednesday at the paper's official Post Partisan blog by one Jonathan Capehart, with the not-so-subtle headline "Gov. McDonnell (R-Va.): Slave to the Confederacy":
McDonnell came to office as the smiling conservative. A candidate who eschewed hot-button social issues in favor of jobs and the economy. He and his successful campaign were touted as a model for Republican candidates around the country. But McDonnell's slavery-denial document reveals a snarl behind the smile that should serve as a warning. Antebellum attitudes are thriving in the Age of Obama.
How convenient someone with such dislike of conservatives has found a reason to criticize a Republican governor. And how convenient, in the middle of TEA party-racism fever, the Post found a reason to claim "antebellum attitudes" were still alive and well.
Three hours after Capehart's piece, the Post's resident race-baiter Colby King took to the blog with a rant of his own that called the Confederacy a "shameful era" of American history. King lashed out at McDonnell's announcement by claiming black Virginians "count for nothing" just like they did in the antebellum south.
African Americans count for nothing in Virginia because of Bob McDonnell. It's a good thing we have intelligent, fair-minded, reasonable pundits like Colby King to keep us informed.
Still three hours after that, Charles Lane lodged his own complaint on the same blog. Lane continued in the spirit of seeing racism afoot, calling McDonnell's act "an affront" to black citizens and "an insult" to whites who didn't support Confederates.
Fifteen minutes after that, Capehart returned with breathless glee to report that he'd managed to get BET founder Sheila Johnson to condemn McDonnell.
Four blog entries in the space of 7 hours, none of which defended McDonnell. That's your mainstream media hard at work.
Readers might notice that none of the four entries offered any context or explanation. For that, let's turn to an article that appeared in the paper's metro section Wednesday:
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, reviving a controversy that had been dormant for eight years, has declared that April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia, a move that angered civil rights leaders Tuesday but that political observers said would strengthen his position with his conservative base.
The only reason the issue had been dormant for eight years was because two Democrat governors had refused to take part. Before then, it had been common for Virginians to observe the event. Since 2011 will be the 150th anniversary of secession, McDonnell can be excused for thinking it might be relevant.
Indeed, McDonnell told the Post the move was done to revive tourism in the state ahead of the big anniversary. Virginia holds many important locations, including the Confederate capital and the site of the official surrender.
But the Post would have none of that. Instead of encouraging readers to check out Virginia's interesting attractions, the paper accused McDonnell of ignoring the economy to take on social activism:
After a fall campaign spent focusing almost exclusively on jobs and the economy, McDonnell had been seen in recent weeks as largely ceding conservative ground to the state's activist attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli II. The proclamation could change that view among Republicans who believe appropriate respect for the state's Confederate past has been erased by an over-allegiance to political correctness, observers said.
Ken Cuccinelli is Public Enemy #1 in Virginia for his pending lawsuit to stop the federal mandate in ObamaCare. No smear would be complete without a reference to him, even if the Post had to bring him it up out of nowhere in the middle of an article about Bob McDonnell.
The paper's attempt at hard news coverage of the issue blathered on for several paragraphs with quotes from Democrat operatives and NAACP representatives. Even though McDonnell specifically claimed his aim was to improve Virginia's economy through tourism, the Post kept stubbornly looking for a culture war.
As if all of the above was not enough of a pile on, Post blogger David Weigel also chimed in Wednesday to lament that McDonnell had killed his chances for a presidential run by pandering to the far right. Weigel was hired by the Post to cover conservatives, and that was the best he could do.
Yet the media still don't understand why rank-and-file conservatives are suspicious of so-called conservatives in newsrooms. When a paper's token conservative is busy attacking Republicans, it's hard to take them seriously.
Believe it or not, the Post wasn't done yet. Capehart returned to the blog for a third entry Wednesday evening, this time upping the ante by using McDonnell to attack Republicans in general:
And there it is. McDonnell sounds like a racist bigot because the entire Republican party is beholden to racist bigots, taken at the word of a poster on David Frum's website.
By itself, McDonnell's seven-paragraph insult could be written off as the actions of a pandering politician currying favor with his local base. Unfortunately, it is one more piece of evidence that there's nothing grand about the Grand Old Party these days. [...]
"I do not recognize myself in the Republican Party anymore," lamented Chris Currey, who describes himself as a "worried, old, middle of the road Republican" on FrumForum. "We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, and yet we act and behave as if we are the party of Nathan Bedford Forrest." He concludes, "If nothing happens, we might win an election or even two, but in the long run we will lose America." And they'll deserve to if they keep this up. Still, ultimately, it will be America that loses. The republic is ill-served by a two-party system in which one of the parties is bereft of a positive alternative to the majority party and is enthralled by a shrinking and increasingly reactionary base.
Seven pieces, all of them negative, furiously written by the Washington Post to attack a Republican the paper has opposed for over a year.
If our media had that kind of obsession in vetting Democrats, our republic would not be so ill-served.