Now that Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are federal convicts, it's worth revisiting the atrocious defense strategy that didn't save them, a strategy that makes the Chewbacca Defense look like Inherit the Wind.
If you read nothing else for the rest of your life, read the paragraph below that details how ex-Virginia governor, onetime presidential hopeful, and repository of family values Bob McDonnell and his wife plan to defend themselves against federal corruption charges.
This lead, from New York Times wordsmith Trip Gabriel. My God, this lead:
This is to say that Bob McDonnell—darling of the religious right who spent a lot of his work time fretting over gay nuptials and transvaginal probes for the ladies and whose graduate thesis is titled "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade"—was in a sham marriage, having accepted that his disgruntled wife was possibly shtupping a guy in the governor's mansion who just happened to be showering hundreds of thousands of dollars on the fucked-up first family while soliciting the governor's help with his business.
More from Gabriel:
Ms. McDonnell, her lawyer said, had a "crush" on the businessman, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the prosecutors' star witness, who the government said would detail the designer clothing, vacations, golf rounds and cash he provided in exchange for the governor's help in promoting his company, which made a dietary supplement.
Mr. Williams was a frequent visitor to the Executive Mansion, where he and Ms. McDonnell would meet privately. He was known as "Maureen's favorite playmate," the lawyer, William A. Burck, told jurors. "Maureen McDonnell and Jonnie Williams had a relationship some would consider improper for two people not married."
Bob McDonnell's attorney "promised jurors the former governor would 'take that chair right there' and detail his failed marriage, as a way of showing how his wife had become vulnerable to the ingratiating Mr. Williams":
"She was angry for not having enough money, she was angry at him for not spending enough time at home with her, and she hated him for not being available," Mr. Brownlee said of Ms. McDonnell, as the former first couple sat at the same table with their separate legal teams.
"Bob and Maureen's communication broke down almost entirely," Mr. Brownlee said, with Mr. McDonnell looking on, his eyes grim and his expression wan.
"This tore the marriage apart, and it created a rift so wide an outsider — in this case a man — could invade and poison the marriage," Mr. Brownlee said.
Somehow this performance is supposed to mitigate the U.S. government's case that the McDonnells extended multiple political favors to Williams and his business ventures in exchange for the $165,000 in "loans and gifts of money, clothes, golf fees and equipment, trips, and private plane rides" he lavished on the governor and his family.
This is the most novel application yet of the vaunted Leslie Knope "Bitches Be Crazy" defense.
That's going to be a tough sell; it's hard to imagine any jurors believing that McDonnell was just a meekly cuckolded husband after the prosecutor read private messages between the governor and the alleged "other man" arranging loans on the down low:
She presented a text message from Mr. McDonnell to Mr. Williams in May 2012 reading, "Per voice mail, would like to see if you could extend another 20k loan for this year."
Mr. Williams's response: "Done."
Prosecutors also say they have evidence of plenty more influence-peddling arrangements the first family made while in office, building on longtime investigations into:
...whether the McDonnells received furniture from a Richmond-based company called Evergreen, whether Maureen McDonnell received free dental work from a Richmond-area dentist and whether the first lady received free clothing from a Jos. A. Bank store.
Defense attorneys didn't indicate Tuesday whether Maureen McDonnell had crushes on all those businessmen, too.
[Photo credit: AP Images]