The politics of death, October 14, 2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

My wife called me upset Thursday morning. She had just finished reading the editorial in the News-Herald I wrote stating that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine was in some pretty deep stuff where the death penalty issue was concerned.

She’s not really a Kaine fan, but she’s certainly not a Kilgore fan, nor am I.

She read the piece as an endorsement of Kilgore. It wasn’t intended that way and I hope it didn’t come out that way.

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It was intended to be a criticism of Kaine.

Earlier this week, the Kilgore campaign launched a particularly nasty TV commercial saying we can’t trust Kaine to execute our criminals. Let me say upfront that I detest Kilgore’s scare-the-redneck tactics. The death penalty is basically a non-issue where Virginia’s future is concerned and focusing attention on it is an insult to the people of Virginia who have to sit in traffic jams, drive on potholed roadways, deal with unsafe bridges closing and property taxes going through the roof. The next governor may decide whether or not to flip the switch on five or six death row inmates. I can’t see how that can possibly compare to the huge issues facing Virginia and anyone who casts a vote on such a basis deserves the government they get.

But Kilgore’s TV commercial did not get me upset with Kilgore. It got me upset with Kaine. Not because I’m afraid he won’t execute criminals, but because he let his opponent paint him as a wimp. The gist of my editorial was that if you have to defend your masculinity against Jerry Kilgore, you’re in trouble and you deserve to lose.

It was no different than war hero John Kerry having to defend his military service against George Bush.

If the Kaine campaign did not see this coming then they are idiots and don’t deserve to govern. If they failed to have a plan to counter it, then how can they possibly have a plan to lead the state?