Pop quiz: which of the following political candidates would you be less likely to vote for: one who had written things offensive to many women in a master's thesis, or one who was convicted of trying to solicit sex from a minor?
If you think the felony conviction is a more condemnable offense for a political candidate, you may want to give up your dream job as a Huffington Post columnist. In the bizarre world of Arianna Huffington, the master's thesis is apparently the more reprehensible offense.
HuffPo columnists relentlessly attacked now-Va. Governor Bob McDonnell for his "frightening" views on marriage and the family as expressed in his 1989 thesis. But lefty blogger Tim Russo, who is running for office in Cleveland, is just the victim of local media that "want him to pay for [his felony conviction] for the rest of his life," presumably by suggesting that soliciting sex from a minor demonstrates a lack of judgment unbecoming a public servant.
I know, really radical stuff.
HuffPo columnist Howie Klein wrote today,
Russo has the sort of leadership experience Cuyahoga County desperately needs at this dangerous, hopeful crossroads. But local media are doing their best to scuttle his campaign before it really begins. Why? Because in November 2001 he solicited sex from an FBI agent posing online as a minor and was made Pervert of the Day for an entire 24-hour news cycle. Local media want him to pay for that for the rest of his life.
"It's time to no longer be defined by our mistakes," says Russo. "This new legislature, in my own hometown, needs precisely the experience I can deliver, and I'm not going to let a stupid mistake I made almost a decade ago stop me from trying to deliver it. Not for one second."
Anyone tuned into Rust Belt politics learned about Russo's conviction long ago -- if not on the day of the arrest in 2001, then years later when Russo posted honest, revealing and specific details about the event and his life after it on his blog. He has never hidden from the charges, admitting it was the biggest mistake of his life. He never bothered to have it expunged.
Instead, Russo took some old Kennedy advice and hung a light on his problem, remaining transparent about it and trying to make up for it in his actions, in his efforts to make his city, country, and his world a better place in which to live.
Media coverage of Russo's candidacy in Cleveland has focused almost solely on the titillating nature of Russo's 9 year old "news." On March 1, Channel 3/NBC investigative reporter Tom Meyer called his story, which was essentially based on Russo's own blog, an "exclusive." Cleveland's daily paper, the Plain Dealer, ran an article several days later that again rehashed the circumstances of his arrest nine years ago -- they even published the original prosecutor's notes and transcripts from the case online, a decision which led to persistent death threats.
The local media are rehashing Russo's felony conviction now that he is running for office? Oh, the horror! Who do they think they are to bring up a felony conviction from nine years ago. It's not like he wrote a politically incorrect master's thesis two decades ago. That, by HuffPo's standards, would qualify him for media scrutiny and derision.
Columnist Cecile Richards wrote for HuffPo last September,
While this thinking [evinced in McDonnell's master's thesis] is pretty frightening, most frightening is that Bob McDonnell is now leading in the Virginia polls. Like other extreme-right candidates, Bob McDonnell is working hard to distance himself from his voting record, public statements and actions, and now, his dissertation at Regent.
Polls indicate that Virginia women can and likely will make the difference in this election and their votes are very much up for grabs. Senator Creigh Deeds, 100 percent pro-women's health and 100 percent pro-working women, is gaining ground. Despite Bob McDonnell's predictions, working women have not been responsible for the demise of American society, but women may very well be responsible for the end of McDonnell's political career.
Not so much.
Very strange that none of the website's columnists consider Russo's crime "frightening," or grounds for the end of his career. Quite the opposite, actually.
HuffPo also lent its megaphone to Virginia's Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, Jody Wagner, who wrote, "The Associated Press wrote that the discovery of these statements by Bob McDonnell has the potential to 'shake up [this] race.' Together, we can make sure that it does."
And yet, HuffPo writers are now complaining that the discovery of damning facts about Russo is somehow unfair or promoting an illegitimate objection to his candidacy. Very strange, indeed.
Erick Erickson wrote at RedState,
If you search the entire article, one word is left out — one crucial, vital, relevant word. Can you guess what it is?
Tim Russo was charged with and convicted of being a felony sex offender, charged with importuning (a fancy way of soliciting sex with a minor), attempted disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile, and possessing criminal tools.
Yeah one little detail — how could they ever have forgotten to put that in. But it’s okay. Russo wants everyone to know he did not have to register as a child predator. Seriously.
So because he did not have to register as a child predator, it is okay now? It is okay to serve in elected office?...
Sadly we are forced to take these people seriously simply because they are so unserious — what is good is bad and what is bad is good. Up is down and down is up.
Yes, the strange standards of the Huffington Post have the power to confuse even the most level-headed voters. 'Sexist Bob McDonnell bad. Sex offender Tim Russo good.' Bizarre.