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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 05/26/2010

Cuccinelli forgets the spoonful of sugar

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

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.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | May 26, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network  
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Anotherwards, Ken Cuccinelli doesn't talk out of both sides of his mouth to protect potential votes. A politician who, like him or not, you know exactly where he stands on an issue.... Kinda refreshing!

Posted by: Rdavis2439 | May 26, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

As an investigative reporter, of all the time you spent with AG Cuccinelli and reading Time Magazine, this is the most depth you have to offer your readers? I am confident if you asked questions of substance in your investigative reporting, AG Cuccinelli would have given you something more to write about. He probably did, but it probably did not fit your cartoon paradigm.

Posted by: BruceFairfax | May 26, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The reporter has apparently not yet figured out that McDonnell and Cuccinelli are two sides of the same coin. Cuccinelli's only function is to make McDonnell appear rational.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | May 26, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I tend to agree that Cuccinelli and McDonnell are cut from the same cloth and I wouldn't put too much faith in one article by Time magazine.
The style of the two politicians may be different but the substance is basically the same. Ambitious McDonnell might be willing to backpedal and cast himself as a moderate which he is not. The beauty of Cuccinelli (which is about as far as one can go) is that he is what he promises to be.

Posted by: pgaluszka | May 26, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Both of them are extreme right-wingers who will cause regret, regression and ridicule across the state--
McDonnell tries to couch his idiocy in nicer language while Kookinelli let's his freak-flag fly high.

WHY NOT? He accepts over $ 55,000 from Bobby Thompson ( MCDonnell only received $ 5,000) and his fake-charity and when Thompson disappears and 3 other states open fraud investigations--Kenny-boy does not:
1. Return or donate the money like every other Va. politician pledges to do.
2. Open up an investigation. But he is only the Attorney General--he is way too busy redesigning lapel pins to actually DO HIS JOB!

Posted by: suec716 | May 27, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

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