A good bit of Cuccinelli’s predicament comes from the release of his book, “The Last Line of Defense,” an extended attack on what he sees as the criminal overreach of the Obama administration — a group he unsubtly describes in the title of Chapter 1 as “The Biggest Set of Lawbreakers in America.” Moderate Republicans worry that “The Last Line of Defense” places Cuccinelli out of the mainstream while handing Democrats endless fodder to use against him. It’s never a good sign when your opponents hold a news conference, as Democrats in Richmond did, to take turns reading aloud from your book.
But Cuccinelli, who rose to prominence with his opposition to a 2002 plan to raise regional taxes to fund transportation projects, has always drawn energy from standing up for what he believes, no matter the consequence. He was tea party long before the tea party existed. And in “Last Line,” he makes clear that he aims to be tea party well after the tea party, too.
Cuccinelli writes that the Obama administration has sought to “exercise control over the American people that it didn’t have the authority to exercise, and in the process it trampled the sovereignty of the states, violated federal law, ignored federal courts and violated the Constitution to achieve its goals of redistributing wealth, concentrating power in Washington, and rewarding its political allies.”
“Last Line” is not a particularly welcoming book. Those who don’t embrace Cuccinelli’s point of view are dismissed as naive or, as he puts it, “asleep.” It reads a little like talk radio sounds — loud, one-sided and at wit’s end. It is more a justification for what Cuccinelli has done than an invitation to join the cause.
He takes on the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and other parts of the federal government, but the heart of his case and the bulk of his book are dedicated to his greatest defeat — his failed attempt to stop President Obama’s health-care overhaul from becoming law. He makes clear that this is a fight he has not abandoned, though many of his fellow conservatives have moved on.
As Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), an equally fervent critic of the Affordable Care Act, put it in February: “It doesn’t matter what I believe. The Supreme Court made its decision. We had an election in the fall, and the public made their decision. Now the president’s health-care law is the law.” For Cuccinelli, however, what he believes is all that matters, and in this regard he repeatedly seeks to place himself in line with the founding fathers.