Paul Jacob

An editorial in yesterday's New York Times bemoaned the number of citizen initiatives that will be on state ballots this Tuesday. The Times fears that all this decision-making will leave "poor" voters "overwhelmed."

Aw shucks, what voters in my state of Virginia wouldn't give to be overwhelmed by real policy matters rather than under-whelmed by the primped-up mannequins on the ballot for governor!

Last year's election brought us the term "values voters." So this year, politicians are trying to fake like they have values, oh-so-sincerely. But all the fakery proves only one value for certain: power — theirs.

The Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Virginia are working feverishly to show that their religious and social values match those held by most voters. But just watch: when their deeply held values don't quite match up to an electoral majority, these oleaginous leaders throw those particular values overboard in a New York minute. So each charges the other for being a two-faced, lying hypocrite. (Finally, they stumble on the truth.)

Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the Republican candidate, began an advertising campaign featuring the relatives of murder victims charging that his Democratic opponent, Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, an attorney, actually once defended a murderer. And that Kaine opposes the death penalty. The ads carry an emotional punch and make it sound a bit like Kaine is, well, for murder.

Then Mr. Kaine responded. In his own TV ad, Kaine looks directly at viewers and tells us that though he has a deeply felt religious belief that life is sacred and that capital punishment is wrong, he is totally committed — if we'll just vote for him to be our next governor — to carry out the very death sentences he believes to be wrong.

Give him credit: Kaine has values. But for us, he'll ignore them.

"I have a religious belief that I am not going to apologize for," Kaine told reporters.

Apparently, jettisoning any responsibility to abide by one's beliefs ends the political need to apologize for them.

Kaine's ads then hit Kilgore for negative campaigning. Good point, except that Kaine had struck first with a television ad charging that Kilgore was gleefully planning to cut education funding. I only wish Kilgore were committed to more accountable education spending. He's not. Few politicians of any stripe are.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.