As I noted last week, when the Washington Post in mid-October issued their endorsement of Democrat Mark Herring for Virginia attorney general, the paper's editorial board hailed the then-state senator as someone who, unlike his "doctrinaire conservative" opponent Mark Obenshain and predecessor conservative Ken Cuccinelli would "hew to the former Virginia tradition of offering restrained and responsible advice" for the state government. After all, the attorney general is responsible for managing the "office that functions as the law firm for the governor, legislature and agencies of state government" and as such should be above ideological or partisan hobby horses, the paper argued.
Fast forward to last week. Herring, on the job barely two weeks as Virginia attorney general, announces he will not only refuse to defend the state's constitutional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman but that his office will file a brief in federal court arguing that the state's definition of marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. Feeling the need to defend their man Herring from charges by Republicans that the AG is not only shirking his duty, but flaunting his intention to do so, the Post editorial rides out to the rescue with a six-paragraph defense of his "strategy," excerpted in full below (emphasis mine):
Democrat Mark Herring pulled out a squeaker of a win last fall, narrowly besting Republican Mark Obenshain to become Virginia's attorney general. In October, the Washington Post endorsed Herring, then a state senator, insisting that Herring "would hew to the former Virginia tradition of offering restrained and responsible advice" to the governor and state agencies and by refusing to "[turn] the office into a platform for ideological crusades."
He's not even a month into the job, and yet Mr. Herring is set to do just that, announcing yesterday his intention to file a brief in federal court attacking the state's 2006 voter-approved constitutional definition of marriage as an institution consisting of one man and one woman. Although it's a stunning, bold-faced repudiation of his constitutional duty to defend the state constitution, you'd be hard-pressed to get that by reading Post court reporter Robert Barnes's coverage in Thursday's paper (emphasis mine):
The Washington Post kept up its crusade to attack Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in Thursday’s paper. In a story covering a debate between the two candidates vying to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general, reporters Frederick Kunkle and Michael Laris put only one candidate’s quote on the front page: the Democrat attacking Cuccinelli as an extremist and abuser of power.
The Post offered Mark Herring’s outburst, and then waited until inside the paper for his quote to fall apart: