Photo via the Washington Post
In the classic baseball poem Casey at the Bat, the main character blows the game in the bottom of the ninth inning for his hometown due to his overconfidence in his own abilities. Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is also striking out for his home team – the people of Virginia. Casey’s arrogance allows the first two strikes to fly bye, and is followed by a whiff on the final pitch, causing a strike out and him losing the game. But Cuccinelli is striking out with self-indulgent partisan legal pursuits, and in an inverse fashion from Casey – with two whiffs followed by a final passed ball third strike.
Cuccinelli’s first strike came in the form of a frivolous demand for documents from the University of Virginia regarding a former professor’s work on climate change. Despite regular indicators that he should drop the purely ideological inquiry, such as last week’s judicial halt, the Attorney General continues to press on with an issue that couldn’t be lower on a priority list for the people of Virginia.
His second strike was quite similar – another philosophical crusade, and this one on another favorite partisan topic: attacking health care reform. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals called this second strike just last Thursday, throwing out his lawsuit ruling that Virginia lacks the standing to sue. Not only has Cuccinelli been wasting his office’s resources and time to go after meaningful health care reform, he’s been doing it solo and independent of the similar legal challenge from 13 states who are working together, basically replicating each other’s work.
But despite unfavorable rulings on both climate change and anti-health care reform fronts the Attorney General fights on. Neither of these purely political pursuits are helping protect or serve Virginians, as is his duty. His constituents need him to investigate matters that have a direct bearing on their lives and the governance of the commonwealth. The opportunity to do so presented itself last week, but instead of hitting the ball out of the park, the Attorney General chose to leave the bat on his shoulder and take that final passed ball third strike.
After the Washington Post uncovered that panels working on reforming Virginia’s government have been meeting in private in possible violation of open-meeting laws, Cuccinelli refused to investigate – even despite a request to investigate from Del. David Englin. The Attorney General is using his office to go after issues that will grab national news and right wing headlines, and not the problems that have a direct impact of how Virginia is being governed. This has been his story since he took office, and even now he signals his willingness to continue his climate change and health care pursuits.
The courts are delivering continuous setbacks and Virginians are trying to voice their desire for an Attorney General who concerns themself with the issues that impact their daily lives. But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Cuccinelli has struck Virginia out.