Bob Marshall, alienating his base.

Well, Del. Bob Marshall is in trouble again. Media outlets across the country are covering the remarks he made at a press conference he held last Thursday about defunding Planned Parenthood:

The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.


      Here's the audio

This tidbit was first reported by the student-run Capital News Service, by VCU student Kelsey Radcliffe. I have no idea how many reporters attended that press conference, but the event itself was well-covered in the media, so credit is due to Radcliffe for calling attention to this. (Or, depending on how you look at it, blame should be provided to the reporters or failed to call attention to this, or their editors who chose not to include coverage of that remark.)

Now, I read this quote and I think yup, that’s Bob Marshall. I’ve followed this guy’s ridiculous beliefs for years: I first wrote about him seven years ago. This is entirely consistent with his beliefs. Marshall believes in an Old Testament God, an angry, bearded old man in the sky throwing thunderbolts at those he doesn’t favor. Jesus isn’t really in the picture. Marshall also views pregnancy as a punishment for sex, and sees birth control as a perversion of God’s will that sex equal procreation. So the fact that he said something this stupid isn’t even something I was going to bother to write about, what with the legislature being in session (thus keeping me busy with Richmond Sunlight), being busy building our new house, being sick right now, etc. This kind of shit from Bob Marshall is exactly what he’s been saying for years and years. The voters of the 13th District, repeatedly having been presented with excellent alternatives at the ballot box, have returned him to office by a large margin every time. He won with 63% of the vote in 2001, without opposition in 2003, 55% of the vote in 2005, 58% of the vote in 2007, and 61% of the vote last November. It’s clear that they agree with him, and no number of signatures demanding his resignation will change that.

No, I think the newsworthy bit here is that Marshall is backpedaling, which is a first for him. He’s issued this statement:

A story by Capital News Service regarding my remarks at a recent press conference opposing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood conveyed the impression that I believe disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions. No one who knows me or my record would imagine that I believe or intended to communicate such an offensive notion. I have devoted a generation of work to defending disabled and unwanted children, and have always maintained that they are special blessings to their parents. Nevertheless, I regret any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have created as to my deep commitment to fighting for these vulnerable children and their families.

Blaming CNS here is shameful. Marshall’s comments—at his own press conference—were very clear.

There is one difference this time around, and I think it provides a clue as to Marshall’s attempt to distance himself from his own remarks: The pro-life crowd is all about mentally retarded babies, especially post-Palin, largely because a supermajority of Downs pregnancies are aborted by the mother. The dominant concept among activist parents of such children is that they’re “angels” (e.g. Band of Angels, Angels with Special Needs, Anna’s Angels, even a sixteenth-century Flemish painting), and angels are precisely the opposite of the religious and logical prerequisites of Marshall’s statement. While Marshall normally pisses off Democrats across the country, in Virginia, and sometimes in his own district, his base—hard-core Republicans—just adore his fringe views. But not this time.

I can’t claim to have the faintest idea whether this is going to impact Marshall at the ballot box in 2011, or what his base is going to make of either his statement or his retraction. But I do think that this is the most serious self-inflicted wound—the only kind Marshall has ever experienced—in his political history.

11 thoughts on “Bob Marshall, alienating his base.”

  1. Waldo — Every Democrat who has run against Marshall has tried to run against him as being an embarrassment, etc., and he has turned back the challenges with lots of money and relatively large margins. One interesting thing — his district (Prince William County, mainly) has more than doubled in population since 2000. It is by far the most populous House of Delegates District in the Commonwealth. When redistricting comes, he will lose at least half of his district, no matter how the General Assembly draws the lines.

  2. I’d love to see how his district breaks down, on a household-by-household basis, in terms of partisanship. We haven’t seen Marshall’s percentage of the vote decline over time, so that would seem to be an indication that his base hasn’t been diluted.

  3. I’m generally of a conservative mindset, but Marshall was totally ignorant and out-of-line here. If the district is that Republican, I would love to see a normal, right-minded conservative primary him. If I lived in his district, I’d have half a mind to do it myself.

    We must hold people accountable, whether they are in our party or the other (or no party, for that matter). I obviously want a conservative in the seat, but Marshall needs to go.

  4. You can send a message by donating $13 to the Prince William Democrats in our continuing effort to change our representation in Richmond. We will not give up!

    Bob Marshall is an embarrassment to Prince William and Virginia. Please donate $13 to the the PW Dems to help us unseat this anti everything person. << This is our ActBlue Page!

    bruce roemmelt, PWC Dems Vice Chair

  5. “nature takes its vengeance.” very nice. I never believe that rhetorical slip-ups like this are in any way mistakes or errors or that it’s simply “misspeaking.” (or, more typically, it’s been misconstrued or taken out of context — shift the blame to the listener/reader instead of the speaker!)

    he had to have had this concept of “nature/God’s vengeance” in his head in the first place for it to come out of his mouth. I don’t doubt that he thought he had it filed away under “too explosive ever to say out loud,” but it’s ludicrous to suggest that he does not believe it on any level. His God is an angry, punitive God, and this fits in perfectly. Of course he believes that if you commit the sin of abortion, you’ll be punished in this life, and it makes perfect sense to someone like that to use the scientific research on increased risks of miscarriage/birth defects as evidence of God’s anger.

  6. If you believe that abortion is murder, then you might also believe that an angry God would take His vengeance via a handicap. Especially if you are a self-important blowhard. Cecil is right, Bob Marshall’s words have roots in religious darkness.

  7. WJ,

    redistricting and future plans are always problematic. Bob’s moved into the heart of the county and might be looking at the 29th Senate seat (Colgan D?)

    the district will be at least cut in 1/2 and there might be 2 1/2 delegates there in ’11. Poisson’s old district (E. Loudoun) will pick up another seat as it’s number 2 in growth. the Jackson Miller seat will get smaller in geo demographic.

    the good news is that we’re starting to attract quality candidates, now the problem is getting Obama like turnout in the district during the ‘off years’.


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