"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Another Deserving Loser

Kathy Hutchins writes on the Virginia gubernatorial race:

Jerry Kilgore comes along and runs a campaign that makes Mayor Quimby look like Albert Einstein. The only thing it was a referendum on was opposition to egregious stupidity.


The Kilgore campaign ran an attack on now Governor-elect Tim Kaine's personal opposition to capital punishment, saying he wouldn't even execute Hitler.

C'mon, man.


Capital punishment is a serious and difficult issue on which persons of good conscience can disagree, and it should trouble all persons of good conscience, regardless of where they eventually end up on the issue.

First, Kaine stated that he would not defy the law or frustrate the will of the people by refusing to carry out lawfully decided death sentences. It was no longer a real political issue. But OK, for the sake of argument...

Kilgore's using Hitler in commercials diminishes the scope and gravity of Hitler's crimes. If the Kilgore campaign had any sense of proportion or honesty, it would have brought home the horror of murder with the example of an already-executed Virginia murderer, a real crime with real victims. Perhaps they'd have made a point.

Even Tim Robbins, as director and author of the screenplay of the painful yet elegant Dead Man Walking, by showing both the execution and the crime simultaneously, had the honesty to do that. And Robbins is opposed to capital punishment.


Turning everything into grist for the mill insults not just our intelligence, but our very humanity.

No lousy political office is worth the price you tried to pay, Mr. Kilgore, or the price you tried to extract from another man's conscience. People who do that should be shunned, and enough Virginia voters shunned you on Tuesday. Good on them.

(And I've always wanted to express my admiration for Tim Robbins' professionalism and the purity of his art in Dead Man Walking. I see you ranting on politics at a podium now and then on TV and my eyes glaze over, Tim, but regardless, you'll always get a fair hearing from me.)

6 comments:

Hunter Baker said...

Here's what an evil conservative I am: I saw Robbins' film "Bob Roberts" about a perfectly awful religious, gun-nut, right-winger who also happened to be a musician and still sing some of the songs in my head.

The one I remember most goes like this:

Some will work.
Others will not.
But they'll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.

Kathy Hutchins said...

The Hitler ad was just one of many Kilgore campaign brain flushes. And it was completely unnecessary, because they have a perfectly good, locally and chronologically relevant, Super Bad Guy to use as an argument: John Allen Muhammad, the infamous Beltway Sniper, who has been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in Virginia. The debate on which jurisdiction would try him first turned in part on the extreme infrequency of execution in Maryland. (At the time of the sniper crimes, Maryland had a moratorium on executions, which has since been lifted; only 9 people have been executed in Maryland in the past 50 years.) It would have been a perfectly legitimate hook for a campaign issue. Instead he uses Nazis.

Matt Huisman said...

Here's one more reason Kilgore is dumb...he allowed Kaine to play up his religious convictions.

I believe that Kaine is a Catholic, which provides ample 'religious' cover for being against the death penalty. The religious conservatives who are pro-death penalty will have a lot more respect for oppposition on those grounds than your typical liberal (who rc's perceive have no respect for justice or deterrence).

Kaine gets to satisfy his base on the issue, while seeming more moderate to the undecideds. He doesn't have to thump his chest about his religious convictions, only mention them in response to questions.

Kathy Hutchins said...

I see you ranting on politics at a podium now and then on TV and my eyes glaze over, Tim, but regardless, you'll always get a fair hearing from me.

I've seen and heard Robbins ranting as well. I just can't quite take it at face value, though. Not after his brilliant, pitch-perfect portrayal of the ponytailed conflict-resolving herbal tea granola boy, Ian Raymond, in High Fidelity. He couldn't have pulled that off if he didn't have some small capacity for self-mockery, a capacity I do not sense is shared by his extremely tiresome wife.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Yes, the High Fidelity role was good and I have seen him do that elsewhere as well - show the good side of a right-winger or the absurd side of a lefty.

But his most chilling turn as a right-winger was in that wonderful flick, Arlington Road.

Hunter Baker said...

I liked Arlington Road. I think it reflects the left-wing feeling of impotence in the face of an advancing conservative movement post-Reagan, post-1994. After all, the good liberal academic ends up screwed and the bad righty gets away.