First, I need to say that I have little sympathy for the former Governor or his wife. Their behavior while in the Governor’s mansion may not have been illegal but it certainly was unethical. McDonnell knew better. Many of us had such great hopes for Bob McDonnell as Governor. He let us down, particularly with the massive transportation tax increase and his personal, unethical, behavior in the Governor’s mansion.
His trial has bothered me to the point that I don’t want to hear about it. There are several reasons for my aversion. The former Governor’s defense centers around making his wife look bad, very, very, bad. Over the last few days former First Lady Maureen McDonnell has been called sneaky, a nutbag, and a spendthrift. She has been accused of running up credit card debts and having a relationship with one of their benefactors, Jonnie Williams. She took gifts from Williams, including designer clothes and the Governor’s Rolex watch. Some of her designer clothes and handbags can be seen The First Lady was terrible to her staff, intolerable, often screaming at them. She accused the Governor’s mansion’s chef of attempting to poison her with spoiled food to ruin her Christmas, or so claimed a defense witness. In the first nine days of the trial, Mrs. McDonnell has been described as a self centered, raving maniac, who screams at everyone, family and staff.
The worst part of this trial? The McDonnell’s children have been dragged into court and forced to testify against their mother. Twice daughter Cailin McDonnell has cried on the witness stand. She cried when she was shown pictures of her wedding. Memories of her wedding are tainted because Jonnie Williams, the main witness against the Governor, paid for her wedding, something she deeply regrets. It’s terrible that she has no fond memories of her wedding, in fact memories of her wedding make her cry. She and her brothers are forced to hear about their parent’s terrible marriage and her mother’s ‘crush’ on Jonnie Williams. No child, at any age, wants to hear their parents have a bad marriage and their mother has a crush on another man. One of the McDonnell’s sons has also testified in the trial. The McDonnell children should not be involved. No child, even an adult child, should have to testify in their parent’s trial.
So whose fault is it that the McDonnell children are involved in the trial and Maureen McDonnell is being blamed for everything bad that has ever happened in the McDonnell marriage and in the Governor’s mansion? Easy answer, the man of the house, Bob McDonnell. He is letting his wife take the blame to save his own neck. He is allowing his children to be dragged through this muck and mire for the same reason. It’s disgusting. Men used to take responsibility for their family. They defended their wife and children above all else. Real men would take a bullet before they would let this happen to their wife and children. Democrat Senator Chap Petersen explained this well on his blog:
Long before there were vitamin supplements or Rolex watches, there was a quaint concept called “chivalry.” It meant that a man had a duty to protect those around him. This was the very concept of manhood itself.
This duty reached its apogee when a man had a family. As the head of the family, the “father” (we shall call him that) had an economic obligation in supporting his wife and children. He had a similar role in physically protecting the family. Finally, he was tasked with protecting his family’s honor.
The concept of “honor” meant many things. Among other things, it meant that when something bad happened to the family, the father held himself accountable. He solely took the blame. He shielded others in the family from physical pain or embarrassment.
He would allow himself to be punished (or even go to jail) before seeing another family member — male or female – hurt in any way. Especially his wife.
So much for the old days.
Today’s father is much more calculating than Paleolithic Man. Today’s father lets his children receive “gifts” in order to save him from paying for their wedding. Today’s father uses his wife as a legal mine-detector, denying any knowledge when she receives illegal gifts or carries out illegal promises. Today’s father even alludes to his wife’s interest in another man, if that will help prove his own “innocence.”
It’s all so tawdry. The former Governor has sat in the courtroom, day after day, watching his wife and children be destroyed by his defense. He’s allowing his lawyers to drag his family through the mud so that he might save himself. What husband and father allows that to happen? One without morals, principals or honor, one who accepts a Rolex Watch and then blames his wife for it. Who can respect a man who allows this to happen to his family? It’s disgusting and I can’t bear to watch this happen to a family I once admired so very much.
If all that is coming out is the truth, then this is the correct defense. Only if this isn’t the whole truth would it be the wrong defense.
Who says Maureen isn’t in agreement with the approach? Maureen was never an elected official. She can take all the gifts she wants for whatever reason she wants. What she can’t do is conspire with Bob McDonnell to grant quid pro quo’s for those gifts. How might that happen? Well, maybe she had a crush on Williams. Maybe she she was in a bad marriage and not talking to her husband. Maybe she didn’t tell him about the gifts. Maybe she was buckling under pressure and ranting and raging and out of control. All of which could help explain how she was taking gifts and not conspiring with an elected official to give something back for those gifts.
Choosing between going to jail and looking bad is a pretty easy choice.
As far as the kids, they’re adults. Young Americans their age were recently carrying machine guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. One son was given a ridiculous gift from Jonnie Williams. His father told him to return the gift as inappropriate. The son (and Maureen) disagreed and he kept the gift. Now he has to answer prosecutors for his actions. The daughter accepted $15,000 for her wedding without telling Dad (at the time), although she did tell Mom. Now she has to answer the prosecutors’ questions.
In the end I believe it will be the undisclosed loans from Williams to McDonnell that will be Bob McDonnell’s undoing. Maureen will walk on everything and he’ll walk on everything but the loans. Being convicted of one thing is a lot better than being convicted of many things.
Finally, Chap Petersen’s ill-informed reference to chivalry might be better understood in the context of the Middle Ages where the idea was born. One suspects that Maureen would have avoided reference to “having a crush” on a man other than her husband. A common punishment for adulterous women was whipping, head shaving, and parading the adulteress through the streets. This punishment was almost always imposed after the wife was accused by her husband. Children who disobeyed their fathers could be forced into years of indentured servitude. Chivalry was very much a two way street.
I agree with you Jeanie, but he’s allowing his lawyers and she, hers, to paint this picture during the prosecutions case. I wonder what will happen when it’s the defense turn. I would normally say, since the govt has the burden, it’s best not to have the need to mount a defense, but that’s not will happen here.
I can’t imagine a man that would allow his wife to be thrown under the bus, after spending all those years holding her up on a pedestal. Bob could have avoided all of this. He knows the laws, so push it all away from himself by trying to make people think he didn’t know what she was doing. I can imagine the conversation…
“Gee honey, we’re broke, but thanks so much for the Rolex”. Right. Marriage does not work that way, no matter how each one differs.
I also think the prosecution just might have what it needs. Heck, just the loan and stock discussions between Bob and Johnnie clearly show he was not clueless.
But even as sleazy as I believe this to be, I will wait until the defense presents it’s case to pass judgement on his guilt.
I am appalled that GOP candidates feel the need for expensive clothing and accessories and then solicit donations to pay for them. Remember Pat Nixon’s “plain cloth coat”. Some of this comes from consultants. The Dim Party often runs millionaire candidates. We should emphasize that we are from the people, and not seek to compete with wealthy twits in sartorial magnificence.
first, these are not defense witnesses. they are all witnesses for the prosecution thus far. the defense will begin to call their witnesses after the prosecution rests.
second, most of this damaging info has been in response to questions from the prosecution and even Mrs. McDonnell’s own lawyers. Very little of this info came in response to the former Gov’s lawyers. as NBC-12 reporter Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) tweeted on friday: “It is worth pointing out that a fair number of the negatives details about Maureen #McDonnell are brought up by her attorneys.”
the bottom line is that the facts are the facts and they are ugly for both of them – especially Mrs. McDonnell. Still i don’t see that Williams got much for his loans/gifts. DOJ needs more than a meeting, reception and birthday call to his dad for bribery. nevertheless, the jury will probably likely convict both of them (even without the quid pro quo) because they will assume JW must have gotten something for so many gifts.
I don’t like this trial any more than you Jeanine. The fact remains this trial should never have occurred in the first place. The Federal government’s case is extremely weak. They also threatened to put Maureen in jail unless Bob knuckled under. Should Bob have knuckled under and plead guilty? I honestly don’t know. This much I do know. The entire prosecution is Federal overreach.
Thank you for writing this. Bob McDonnell could have taken a plea bargain at the beginning that would have spared his wife and children all of this. I know, as a wife, that I would do anything to protect my husband. I also know that my husband would never allow something like this to happen to me.
This isn’t about politics. And it’s not about what kind of person Maureen McDonnell is (which, honestly, doesn’t sound very nice) but what his responsibilities were to her as head of their family. And he failed them. I’d say the same if a Democrat did so. (I’m looking at you, John Edwards.)
Just calling it like I see it.
I agree with the principles you’re defending, but I don’t think they’re fully relevant here. If I’m a Democrat I’m thinking to myself you guys are so easy to split and set against each other. This prosecution is political warfare at its ugliest and tawdriest. McDonnell is the gift that just keeps on giving, I draw your attention to exhibit Warner v Gillespie.
The Defense is doing what they’re doing, they have chosen NOT to bring the political dimension of this prosecution into the mix for whatever reason. I would have liked to see a current and some former Governors called into court. We have a political circus going on. The defense had a choice of where to start from – the Ringmaster or the Clown Defense. I would have chosen the Ringmaster, but Clowns sometime win, I draw your attention to exhibit: the Governor in his little Green car.
His children were subpoenaed by the prosecution not the defense. In other words the FEDS are forcing the children to testify under oath under the risk of perjury against their parents.
Every witness thus far is a prosecution witness, defense hasn’t called one because the Fed case hasn’t rested.
The former First Lady chief of staff who called her a “nut bag” is a fed witness, subpoenaed by the prosecutors.
Bob McDonnell hasn’t subpoenaed a single witness thus far, that will come later in the trial
Glad someone else pointed this out. In addition, this article ignores the fact that Maureen McDonnell has her own lawyers and they are the ones pursuing this defense strategy. It was William Burck, Maureen’s own lawyer, who set up the “crush” defense in his opening statement.
Amen to both of you!
First of all this whole circus is a joke. Man, the powers that be sure wanted McDonnell’s head on platter –oh and all this breaks during Cuccinell’s run for governor–what a laugh.
Martin is so one-sided it’s a wonder she doesn’t tip over while she’s walking.
Crying children, bashing defendants? So what?– that’s what prosecutors do to witnesses they subpoena.
As for chivalry–I wanted to choke when Martin quoted a Democrat Senator on what a father is–I guess Dems should know about fathers-it’s their policies that helped wipe them out in the inner city–give me a break.
Oh and now we have McAuliffe–who makes the McDonnells look like saints. McAuliffe who will probably wipe out any surplus we have to do Obama’s bidding and expand Medicaid.
Why doesn’t Martin just sponsor a bill to put a guillotine outside the capitol building in Richmond and we can chop the McDonnell’s heads off–
Right, her lawyers and his are going along with this defense. It’s the McDonnell’s ‘strategy’ to throw her to the wolfs.
But this is an exact quote from you on your blog post
“The former Governor has sat in the courtroom, day after day, watching his wife and children be destroyed by his defense. He’s allowing his lawyers to drag his family through the mud so that he might save himself.”
The entire statement is built upon a false premise – that these are witnesses subpoenaed by Bob McDonnell. These are 100% PROSECUTION WITNESSES, subpoenaed and suffering under direct examination from FEDERAL PROSECUTORS. They were never subpoenaed by McDonnell lawyers. Most of what you cited was testimony that was given when being questioned by the FEDS.
My point is, before you comment on a legal trial, at least discuss with an attorney or someone with courtroom experience that can help explain to you the process. You make it sound like Bob McDonnell is forcing his kids to testify, when it is the FEDS placing them through the ringer. Look at the Eric Holder Justice Department on this one.
There is certainly enough blame to go around. My question is where is the responsibility for her own behavior? The Governor was not squeaky clean in any of it, but if the first lady was accepting responsibility for her own disgusting behavior, she would have spared her children this embarrassment as well. This marriage obviously was in serious trouble and we are being forced to bear witness to a very sad story. Blaming one person for all of it, in my opinion is short-sighted.
Why focus on Bob? His wife is an adult. Plenty of blame to go around. And now McAwful.
There is much merit to your comments, but in the face of the modern Federal leviathan, it is doubtful that there is anything that McDonnell could have done to protect his wife against prosecution.
He could have told his defense that he would not allow his wife and children to be treated this way to save his own neck.
I agree Jeanine. Cowardice will br Bob McDonnel’s legacy to his children. It is a sad legacy for a man I called a friend. But it should be a stark warning to every man. What is going to be your legacy men?
he wanted separate trials! that would have been worse