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.
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.)