September 6, 2013

Among some of the more absurd statements Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli II has made was this latest offering.

Cuccinelli
Ken Cuccinelli (Steve Helber / Associated Press)

The Post reports on this exchange between Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe:

Following an appearance at an Arlington early childhood development center Thursday, McAuliffe was asked by a reporter if he had a position on whether Congress should grant President Obama authorization to strike Syria.

“I don’t,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve said that our commander in chief and our military and the Congress should make that decision. I have huge challenges … in what I’m dealing with and I’m really focused on what we need to do here” in Virginia.

By Thursday afternoon, Cuccinelli had weighed in.

“I understand we’re running for Governor of Virginia, but nevertheless, I find it pretty remarkable that Terry McAuliffe said he didn’t have a position on whether the U.S. should take military action against Syria,” Cuccinelli wrote on his Facebook page. “How is that even possible? I’ve yet to meet one person who doesn’t have strong feelings about this issue.

I’ve yet to meet one person who thinks this is an issue in the gubernatorial contest. I also don’t think the Russian reset or Egypt is an issue in the gubernatorial contest. There are lots of distractions and ways to ignite controversy but this is a peculiar one, especially given that some of his base may find it essential for the United States to act. On this one, McAuliffe sounds like the more serious candidate.

Moments like this get me wondering about whether Cuccinelli really wants to be governor or simply a star in the right-wing firmament. He says he wants to focus on economic issues and help Virginians, yet he finds Syria a matter of debate and attacks his opponent for daring to believe a governor should focus on state issues.

Something that should concern Cuccinelli and McAuliffe, however, is the economic impact of the sequester on Virginia, which is heavy on military installations and defense contractors. Why aren’t they talking about that, or vowing to get Virginia’s U.S. Senators and representatives on board with a suspension of the sequester? That at least has relevance to the state they are seeking to lead.

The irony is rich here. Cuccinelli likes to call himself a constitutional conservative. But foreign policy is something over which the states have no authority. McAuliffe gets that; why doesn’t Cuccinelli?

The state has enough divisions and disagreements without dragging in a hot button issue that is solely the province of the federal government. Cuccinelli just confirmed one of voters’ deepest concerns about him: he would rather engage in ideological debates or court national conservatives than focus on bread-and-butter issues. That isn’t what Virginians are looking for.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.