Cuccinelli forgets the spoonful of sugar
Elected officials often seem like two-dimensional cartoon characters, and that can be especially true of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Like all politicians, they speak to us mostly through a few paragraphs in a newspaper, a brief statement on television or an online video. Their words give only a glimpse into the person speaking them, inciting endless speculation.
But who are the real Bob and Ken? Some say they share views but communicate them differently. Others place the AG so far to the right he seems about to tip off the political spectrum into utter insanity, while giving the governor a seat closer to the middle.
Cuccinelli seems to chalk it up to personality differences. Bob is "a lot more sensitive to peoples' view of what goes on in government," while Cuccinelli sees himself as more "coldly logical," he told me a few months ago.
"My minus is I don't always deliver the medicine with a spoonful of sugar," he said. "The spoonful of sugar doesn't stop the medicine from working, but it makes people feel better when they get the medicine."
Cuccinelli correctly identifies his propensity to move ahead without worrying about the feelings of others. He seems to delight in rocking the boat, while McDonnell does everything he can to quiet the waves.
For how hard McDonnell strives to look like a peaceful moderate, I would have guessed that he bemoans his sidekick's attention-grabbing style. But a Time magazine article suggests that Cuccinelli's conservative sideshow has enabled McDonnell to look like a moderate -- a wonderful gift to a governor who spent last fall dodging a conservative thesis he wrote at Regent University 20 years ago.
Cuccinelli likes to contrast his left-brained self with McDonnell's right-brained ways. He hasn't backed away from any of the moves he's made in his new seat. But during our conversation the AG acknowledged he could learn something from the agreeable governor: "In terms of the political consequences, I get in my own way a little bit once in a while."
Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.
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