Kilgore and “weak.”

I’ve been pushing the “weak Kilgore” meme for months now, because I think it will be effective. It plays to Jerry Kilgore’s brief political history (he’s only run for office once twice), his entry to the political world (his appointment to Secretary of Public Safety in ’94 is understood to have been a favor to the Kilgore family and to Southwest Virginia Republican leaders) and to voters’ likely perception of him once they encounter him (his vocal mannerisms are shockingly effeminate).

So I’m pleased to see that Tim Kaine’s campaign has adopted the word “weak” as their all-purpose one-word description of Kilgore. I’m not sure if I can take any credit for this, but I’m certainly glad to see them going this route.

In the Virginian-Pilot, columnist Margaret Edds rightly laments the simplification of the political world and the reduction of things to black-and-white, a battle of who can label the other candidate first:

Tim Kaine wants you to identify him as a “leader,” as in “Leading Virginia Forward.” And he intends to tag his opponent for governor with an opposite quality: “weak.”

[…]

As someone with family roots in Virginia’s far southwest, I can assure you that a man such as Kilgore who comes out of tiny Gate City and manages to emerge as the almost-certain standard-bearer of Virginia’s dominant political party has a wealth of inner fortitude and true grit.

[…]

High-paid consultants more interested in winning than governing conspire to define the opposition in ways that often bear little resemblance to reality. Candidates who might prefer to do otherwise are almost powerless to stop, because campaign after campaign has proved the effectiveness of the approach.

Can the consultants usually dredge up evidence for their claims? Oh, sure.

[…]

[C]onsider a Kaine campaign piece describing Kilgore as “weak and ineffective on parole abolition.” This is a truly astonishing claim since Kilgore was secretary of public safety in the administration that rewrote parole laws, changing them from a revolving door to a barely cracked one.

True, as the release states, thousands of prisoners sentenced before the new parole laws took effect still are eligible for parole based on the old laws. That’s the peg for the “Kilgore as weak” theme. But what is the Kaine campaign suggesting? That the commonwealth should have invited a host of prisoner lawsuits and gone even further into overdrive on prison building to keep everyone behind bars?

She’s right, of course — it sucks that politics is like this. But politics has been like this since the founding of the United States, and it’s not going to change anytime soon.

I’d be hesitant to attack Kilgore in this manner so early (or, indeed, at all), were it not for his hiring of Scott Howell. In doing so, the Kilgore campaign declared that they were going to run a filthy campaign based on lies and smears. So far, they haven’t gotten anywhere near that bad, save for their bizarre counterfeit “internal Kaine campaign memo.” But with Howell on board, frankly, I don’t see any need to wait. Think of it as a preemptive strike for defensive purposes. If it’s good enough for President Bush, it’s good enough for me. ;)

5 thoughts on “Kilgore and “weak.””

  1. Now, granted, it may have been before your time, but Jerry Kilgore has run for office twice; the first time was (unsuccessfully) for the A.G. nomination in 1997. I won’t argue against the fact that his public safety appointment was pretty much a present from Senator William Wampler (because it’s true). I’m disappointed such a progressive blog would describe Mr. Kilgore’s mannerisms as “shockingly effeminate”–what ever happened to dispelling those notions of false gender stereotypes?

  2. If Kigore supported gay rights (and if he had denounced that 2004 bill preventing gays from entering into marriage-like contracts) then his effeminate speech pattern would be totally irrelevant. It’s the suspicion that his position on homosexuality may be a manifestation of self-loathing that makes this blog-worthy. (Also, you may be interested in reading the study on homosexual speech patterns referred to in a previous blog entry at this site. And maybe “effeminate” is the wrong word here, but I can’t think of a better way to say it without going into a long description of intonation and vocal register.)

  3. Now, granted, it may have been before your time, but Jerry Kilgore has run for office twice; the first time was (unsuccessfully) for the A.G. nomination in 1997.

    It certainly wasn’t before my time. :) I have no excuse but writing faster than I can think, which isn’t hard to do. Corrected accordingly — thanks.

    I’m disappointed such a progressive blog would describe Mr. Kilgore’s mannerisms as “shockingly effeminate”–what ever happened to dispelling those notions of false gender stereotypes?

    Just because I disagree with a concept held by people doesn’t mean that I can’t employ it. :)

    I think that the whole American notion of protecting people from terrorism is ridiculous — our national security model will do nothing to prevent a determined individual or group from killing hundreds or thousands of people. In fact, I believe that it’s impossible for a liberal democracy to prevent such an occurrence through physical security measures. But I can’t imagine that I would advise a candidate to acknowledge that. Were I advising Tim Kaine, I’d encourage him to have a plank that includes funding enhanced security, even though I personally believe that it would do nothing.

    That makes me both a hypocrite and a realist, I suppose.

  4. Mrs. Jaquith,

    I would happily indulge your lengthy exposition on intonation and vocal register for wholly recreational purposes, though I suspect that to do so on this thread would be somewhat of a digression. I have looked over the post to which you’ve referred and found it very interesting; I hope sometime soon to have the time to read entire underlying paper. However, as Waldo observes in his post on it, “It must be noted that the author is careful to point out that not all gay men have gay speech patterns, and that not all people with gay speech patterns are gay.” I would offer Mr. Kilgore’s speech patterns and my own as proof of this very point, though on opposite ends of its spectrum.

    Terry Kilgore and his brother have nearly identical speech patterns, though the pitch is rather different. While some might attribute the similarity to the genetic argument for sexual orientation (Terry and Jerry are twins after all), I and Ockham’s razor would agree that they more probably arise from similarly observed and mimicked vocal patterns during formative years. Whether or not pitch is affected in the same manner that pronunciation can be is more in your area of expertise than mine, but it’s the predominant if not only difference between the two brothers, at least to my casual, unlearned ear.

    As a final counterpoint to your comment, I suggest that, even if Jerry Kilgore is gay, which I very much doubt, there’s a world of difference between self-loathing and self-ignorance. That opens up the philosophical can of worms on the subject of whether one can, in fact, be gay if one doesn’t know one is gay. I suspect that one can, although I may be biased.

    Waldo,

    Sorry to have a dialogue with another commentator on your own blog, and to refer to you in third person while visiting as your guest. I do eagerly look forward to reading the whole of Mr. Renn’s paper because his conclusion that “it is unlikely that many gay men consciously choose to sound gay, given the attendant costs of such a speech pattern in the romantic marketplace,” seems inconsistent with my own [humbly anecdotal] experience. Re the adoption of dictionaries and thesauri for leisure reading, the phrase “much too much in common” again rears its ugly head.

  5. Terry Kilgore and his brother have nearly identical speech patterns

    I disagree with you on this point. While both have strong SW Virginia accents, it’s only Jerry that has what the author of this academic paper calls a “gay speech pattern.” That bit of the accent is wholly unrelated to the SW Virginia accent. I’ve only heard Terry speak a few times, but I could tell their voices apart every time with no trouble whatsoever.

    Sorry to have a dialogue with another commentator on your own blog, and to refer to you in third person while visiting as your guest.

    No problem. :)

    I do eagerly look forward to reading the whole of Mr. Renn’s paper because his conclusion that “it is unlikely that many gay men consciously choose to sound gay, given the attendant costs of such a speech pattern in the romantic marketplace,” seems inconsistent with my own [humbly anecdotal] experience.

    It’s really a fascinating paper. I hope you enjoy it. I certainly did. The author did a great job of tacking what is surely an uncomfortable topic.

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