By Michael Shannon:
The Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial is not proving to be the unmitigated disaster for the McDonnell family that I first assumed. As the trial continues Maureen is looking more and more like her official portrait, currently on display at the Richmond Salvation Army Store.
She can’t do anything about the age difference — the youngster in Maureen’s “First Lady” portrait appears to be graduating from college next fall — but the size differential is rapidly closing. There’s nothing like the Federal Corruption Trial Diet to help remove those unwanted pounds that appear barnacle–like over the years.
A few more weeks in the courthouse and Maureen will be down to her fighting weight, which may come in handy if she’s sentenced to hard time.
The McDonnell saga, which in many ways represents the typical I–won–the–lottery–and–blew–it–all story has been invaluable for those who write. If you’re interested in brushing up on the whole story here are the relevant columns:
The prosecution has now rested its case and regardless of whether or not McDonnell is guilty, the picture painted of the family is only flattering if you compare them to the Kardashians.
Trial testimony left out the thousands of dollars it cost when the McDonnell kids raided the mansion’s pantry to take food to college. (That was only tax dollars and everyone knows those are free.) Instead the trial focused on what Jonnie R. Williams showered on the governor. There is the $20,000 shopping tab Maureen ran up on her New York City shopping trip that was chaperoned by Williams. His unintentionally funny description of the outing into Women’s Territory warmed the heart of every husband who’s sat bored on a mall bench outside a clothing store as the women shopped and the credit card smoked: “It went on for hours.”
Then there is the brand new set of golf clubs, golf bag with the UVA logo and golf shoes given to Bobby McDonnell who thought the give was “excessive” but not so excessive that he sent it back. In fact he and his father and brother played multiple rounds of golf and charged hundreds of dollars in green fees, caddy fees, food and golf accessory purchases to Williams during 2011 and 2012.
There’s even a rumor they tried to flag down Marine One and invite Obama to join the threesome.
The haul from the Jonnie Williams ATM was so extensive the WaPost designed an excellent graphic that shows whom got what. Weddings were profit centers, the family was showered with plane tickets, a trip to Cape Cod, the Final Four (ironic that, because McDonnell’s governor term was the final four years of his political career), Florida, another golf bag, flights on private planes, a watercolor and a turkey dinner (wait, sorry, that was Ken Cuccinelli’s thanksgiving gratuity from Williams). And since the McDonnells were good conservatives they would NEVER stoop to taking an Obamaphone, but they did pocket two Williams’ iPhones.
The mental image one has after reading the list is of the Beverly Hillbillies living it up in their new California mansion, but that’s completely unfair to the Clampetts, because they were using their own money.
Now that the prosecution’s story of Rent–A–Politician has concluded, the defense strategy is two–fold. First Maureen is a maniac who had hot pants for Williams and hid everything from her husband. She was the mastermind behind the plot to trade official support for Williams’ patent medicine product, Anatabloc, in return for Williams making the McDonnells his foster children.
My favorite story involving Maureen is from the WaPost and it concerns her efforts to sell Mitt Romney on the diet supplement during a trip to South Carolina. Now I’ve seen Mitt’s legs and they are about the size of a pipe cleaner, so Maureen’s instincts were good. Mitt could use some bulking up.
Staffers sensing a disaster put a stop to that plan, but they couldn’t intercept Mrs. McDonnell before she cornered Ann Romney on the campaign bus, where Maureen’s pre–trial bulk made it impossible for Mrs. Romney to escape.
Exhibiting her usual tact and concern for the feelings of others, Maureen blurted to Ann that Williams’ Anatablock was so great it could “potentially cure MS.” Ann Romney —who no doubt had a few choice words for the advance staff after the event — has multiple sclerosis, so the sales pitch was vulgar, insensitive and fit Maureen as snugly as one of Williams’ free designer dresses.
Or as McDonnell political advisor Phil Cox said on the stand, “I was horrified. I thought it was a train wreck.”
Bob’s defense is different. He’s not crazy, but he may be the biggest ingrate in Commonwealth history. Big Watch Bob’s story is reciprocation is not a word in his vocabulary. He accepted $120,000.00 in no–doc loans to shore up his failing real estate investments, wore the Rolex, presided over the acceptance of the other thousands of dollars in booty and did absolutely NOTHING in return for Williams.
He just sent all William’s calls to voice mail where they died a lingering death. It would have made more sense for Williams to forget the McDonnells and hire a lobbyist, but come to think of it 120K probably wouldn’t be enough to hire a Hamas spokesman.
As far as strategies go this is a variation of the Viet Nam defense: We destroyed the reputation in order to save it.
And just to make sure there was no doubt as to McDonnell’s ingratitude the WaPost writes, “In the afternoon, defense attorneys presented a parade of former McDonnell cabinet secretaries to testify to all the things McDonnell could have done to assist Williams and his company. In turn, each witness agreed that McDonnell never took those actions.”
In other words don’t loan Bob your lawnmower with the expectation that you can borrow his rake later.
I can see the fun couple’s social life drying up the longer the trial continues. Who wants to host a couple that will never return the favor and might ask you to take them to the mall before they leave?
Ingratitude as a get–out–of–jail strategy can’t be helping fund raising for McDonnell’s legal defense. (Lawyers are something else for which McDonnell doesn’t deign to pay.) If a signature loan for 120K doesn’t warm the cockles of Bob’s heart when he’s facing foreclosure, what is your measly 5K for lawyers going to achieve?
© Copyright by Michael Shannon, 2014. All rights reserved.