Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Will Bob McDonnell Be Able To Fool Enough of the People Enough of the Time To Get Elected?

The sole question in this campaign seems to be whether Bob McDonnell will be able to pull the wool over Virginians’ eyes long enough to convince enough people to vote for him.

Based on his recent debate with Creigh, he might be able to pull it off. Take McDonnell’s extremist stances on two significant social issues, abortion and gay rights. In the debate, McDonnell was successfully able to paint himself as a moderate on these issues.

Bob McDonnell is no moderate on these issues.

The fact is that McDonnell’s election potentially endangers the life and health of every woman in Virginia. McDonnell’s record shows that as a legislator, he tried at every turn to limit a woman’s right to choose, effectively seeking to prevent women in Virginia from deciding upon their own health care in consultation with their doctors.

Similarly, Bob McDonnell has a record as a repeat offender of bigotry toward homosexuals. As I have previously written, he tried to prevent the reappointment of a judge in Virginia Beach based solely on the fact that she was allegedly gay. And according to Virginia Beach blogger Michael in Norfolk, McDonnell is on record saying that Govs. Warner and Kaine’s non-discrimination orders with respect to sexual orientation are invalid. “Moreover,” according to Michael-in-Norfolk, “in a recent case involving a gay man fired by the Virginia Museum of Natural History, McDonnell's AG office successfully sought to have the Executive Orders ruled a nullity - that case is now on appeal.”

So, when McDonnell says he never discriminated in hiring in the AG’s office, and would not do so as Governor, well, I don’t believe him.

I can’t help but wonder where Bob McDonnell, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s law school, stands on the issue of evolution. Does Bob McDonnell believe that evolution is a valid scientific theory, or is he, like his mentor, Rev. Robertson, a Biblical literalist? If he is, I think that is fine – I am a religious person, myself -- but to the extent that one’s embrace of faith forces the exclusion of scientific fact from his worldview, voters have the right to know.

Does Bob McDonnell favor the teaching of crackpot theories like Intelligent Design in public school?

So, three takeaways:

1. When Bob McDonnell soft-pedals his positions on choice and gay rights, shouldn't he explain why his record is inconsistent with his rhetoric?
2. Bob McDonnell holds principled positions on the issues of choice and gay rights that he claims are informed by his religious beliefs. As a religious person, I disagree with him. But the question is why does he feel the need to run away from his principles?
3. Given that religion figures so heavily in McDonnell’s stances on other social issues, where does he stand on the issue of evolution and teaching Intelligent Design in our public schools?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bradley Rees True Colors: He's Just Another Typical Politician

In a comment on this blog submitted earlier this week, Bradley Rees’ campaign manager, Michael Ernette, tried to put to rest the growing issue of the hateful extremist language used by Tea Partiers in the Fifth District and, more generally, in the Commonwealth, at least with respect to his candidate.

Indeed, what we are seeing in the Fifth District seems to reflect the growing nationwide trend of anger directed at President Obama and Democrats from some of the darker corners of the Republican Party, whether it is the absurd arguments of the so-called “Birthers” who contend the President was born outside the U.S., or the characterization today of the president as an “angry black man” by one of the GOP’s ideological leaders, Rush Limbaugh.

Meanwhile, more and more, elected Republican officials and candidates are finding it tougher and tougher to walk the fine line between being a responsible, if vigorous, opposition party, and embracing the positions of some core elements of the Party that can only be considered extreme.

So, on a more local level, walking this fine line was Ernette’s task, as well. He failed, however, to do so, refusing on either his own or on Mr. Rees’ behalf to condemn the incendiary language of Tea Partiers recently directed at Congressman Tom Perriello, even as Ernette said neither he nor Mr. Rees agreed with the Tea Partiers on this particular score.

Mr. Ernette’s rhetorical futility aside, this is not the position of a new and truly independent-thinking candidate that Mr. Rees holds himself out as. Rather, Bradley Rees is trying to have it both ways – pandering to the extremist Tea Partiers who are an important core constituency of the RPV while trying at the same time to appear “reasonable” to the vast majority of mainstream Virginians who reject the group’s excessive, dishonest and confrontational anti-government rhetoric.

In doing so, Mr. Rees exposes himself as just another politician.

In an earlier post on the recent Tea Party protests held outside Tom’s office on July 2, I commented on some of the signs containing over-the-top rhetoric, specifically the many references to Tom as a “traitor” and “coward.” While there was certainly plenty of room for debate over Cap and Trade -- the issue directly precipitating the protest, incidentally -- I wrote that the level of vitriol at the protest was excessive and was not warranted in the context of a discussion concerning disagreement over one, largely technical, proposed piece of legislation to address global warming.

My post also wondered why Mr. Rees and other members of the RPV had not rejected the language of the protesters and condemned the speakers who had called our congressman a “traitor.”

Ernette wrote a comment to my post, saying he disagreed that Tom was a traitor (although Ernette sought to ridiculously argue that Tom was a coward because he refused to meet with the Tea Partiers). In any event, it wasn’t clear if he was speaking for himself or the Rees campaign, so I put the question directly to him in a response comment.

In the meantime, Catherine Crabill, Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in the 99th District, made her infamous “Bullet Box” speech warning of armed rebellion against the United States unless the government pursued policies favored by the Tea Partiers. I also wondered whether Rees, Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and other Virginia Republicans would condemn her remarks.

On Tuesday, Ernette wrote in a second comment on The Virginia Democrat, “I have stated before and will reiterate, Bradley Rees and his campaign do not consider Rep. Perriello to be traitor to his country.”

Whew! Glad we got that out of the way.

But neither Ernette nor, apparently, Rees, could quite bring themselves to take the next step and condemn the use of rhetoric that they themselves are now on record as saying was inappropriate. “In the Rees camp,” Ernette wrote, “we respect the dissent and we respect why they [the Tea Partiers] are angry, even if we do not completely agree with every sign or sentiment that is expressed. … I would hope that most progressives do not concur with the attitudes expressed with signs that likened Bush and Cheney to Adolph Hitler and I am sure that they don’t.”

Ernette also asked why I “want the Rees campaign to throw peaceful protesters under the bus for [my] amusement.” He also asks, “Can I expect you to disavow every freak show protester that claims to speak for the left, as a sign of good faith?”

Ernette’s equivalence argument, however, is entirely misplaced. First, here at the Virginia Democrat, I also respect the dissent and anger of the Tea Partiers and of all people, for that matter. What I object to is the level of vitriol and the incendiary name-calling these folks are utilizing in pursuing their political objectives.

Second, there is no valid comparison to the use of Hitler imagery in protests of Bush and Cheney to the Tea Partiers. Yes, some “liberal” protesters did make those Nazi comparisons, but they were a clear minority in every crowd. The signs in question about Tom, in contrast, dominated and defined this protest, there were not merely a few of them on the fringes.

Third, Ernette asks whether I should disavow “every freak show protester that claims to speak for the left,” but this argument fails because, first, Mr. Rees specifically cited this protest in an approving manner. So, I am not suggesting that Mr. Rees account for “every freak show protester that claims to speak” for Conservatives, only the freak show protesters about whose actions Mr. Rees has spoken in an approving manner.

Similarly, Mr. Rees holds himself out as a Tea Party leader, and he has spoken at Tea Party gatherings at least four times of which I am aware.

In other words, Mr. Rees is not merely an innocent Conservative bystander being unjustifiably called to account for the words of third parties solely because of his ideology.

Finally, with respect to Catherine Crabill’s, and lets not split hairs, crazy comments, she is, as Mr. Rees is, a member of the RPV. Asking him whether he agrees with a fellow member of his party on this issue and why, is a perfectly reasonable question.

The fact is, I understand why Mr. Rees doesn’t want to answer these questions plainly. He is running for office as a Conservative, and the Tea Partiers are a core part of the GOP base. Rees wants their votes, and perhaps more importantly, their enthusiasm and energy.

The problem is, he also wants the votes of the many more numerous mainstream Conservative and moderate Republicans who rightly view the statements and positions of the Tea Partiers and Crabill as extremist.

So, Mr. Rees winds up talking out of both sides of his mouth, trying to sound reasonable to the moderates, but delivering a verbal wink and nudge to the Tea Partiers. When pressed on some of the more extreme comments from Tea Partiers, such as calling a sitting U.S. Congressman a “traitor,” he disagrees with the appellation, but refuses to condemn it. And for goodness sakes, Mr. Rees cannot even bring himself to simply and plainly condemn Crabill’s remarks advocating armed resistance to the democratically-elected government of the United States.

As noted above, Mr. Rees predicament mirrors that of Republicans on local, state and national levels throughout the U.S. The core of the party to which they are beholden has become more vocal and their rhetoric more extremist as electoral losses have piled up and as moderates have abandoned the party. This vicious circle has reinforced itself over time.

But in the meantime, does all of this make Bradley Rees a bad person? No, it doesn’t.

But it does expose him as a typical politician, the very kind of politician that he professes to despise; the very kind of politician to which Mr. Rees continually asserts his own moral and ethical superiority.

Brad Rees. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

x-posted to Blue Virginia.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GOP Legislators Endorse Creigh

Seven Republican and one Independent legislators from across the Commonwealth endorsed Creigh today.

Endorsements during a campaign are a dime a dozen, and as a general matter, I don't get too worked about them, whether good or bad. When Sheila Johnson came out in favor of Bob McDonnell the other day, it was a big yawn to me.

That said, seven Republicans from the General Assembly crossing party lines to endorse Creigh strikes me as significant for a few reasons.

First, in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of Richmond, cross-party endorsements are not common. More importantly, in this atmosphere these endorsers risk the disfavor of their own party for their actions (as opposed to, say, Johnson, whose "cross-party" endorsement, to the extent she had public status as a Democrat, cost her and her economic interests nothing). In short, this is clearly not a decision these legislators too lightly, or one they took for trivial reasons.

Second, these are people who have worked closely with both Creigh and Mr. McDonnell in Richmond, and had the chance of observing both men in how they conduct themselves in the context of governing. So their endorsement is a knowledgeable one from people with a unique perspective on seeing and evaluating the relative qualifications of Creigh and Mr. McDonnell to serve as Governor.

Finally, these legislators represent a cross section of the Commonwealth geographically, so it is not simply a case of local politicos supporting a favorite son. As you can see from the list below, these legislators represent urban, exurban and rural areas, as well as Southwest Virginia, NoVA and Newport News.

The legislators javascript:void(0)endorsing Creigh are:

Sen. Brandon Bell (R-Roanoke Co.)
Sen. John Chichester (R-Stafford)
Sen. Russ Potts (R-Winchester)
Sen. Marty Williams (R-Newport News)
Sen. Warren E. Berry (R-Fairfax)
Del. Anne G. "Panny" Rhodes (R-Richmond)
Del. Katherine Waddell (I-Richmond)
Del. Jim Dillard (R-Fairfax)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bob McDonnell has some questions to answer (but first the media has to ask) - UPDATED

Bob McDonnell does not want to talk about his views on social issues, specifically abortion and gay marriage, because those views reveal him as an extremist who would use the power of the government to deny basic civil rights to American citizens.

The election in November ought to tell us whether this is what Virginians want from their Governor, but that will happen only if McDonnell is forced to discuss his views in detail.

The mainstream media, which still for the most part controls communication between candidates and political office, ought to aggressively force him to do so. Indeed, the media has an obligation to so.

So far, the media in the Commonwealth has given him a free ride on these matters.

Mr. McDonnell, of course, publicly expresses positions on these issues, but he is quite vague. Whether his statements are vague because of a sophisticated “dog-whistle” strategy, as Lowell puts it, or merely to avoid uncomfortable questions, I can say for sure, although I suspect the former.

According to Mr. McDonnell’s website, “Bob McDonnell is pro-life,” and discusses his solid pro-life voting record as a member of the GA. As every knows, however, that appellation means different things to different people. The site does not explain that Mr. McDonnell opposes a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape and incest, even in cases involving the health of the mother – the most extreme position. Why? Well, perhaps the fact that public support nationwide for that position hovers around 15-17%, according to recent polling.

I don’t agree with, Mr. McDonnell’s extremist opinion, but can understand how if one believes life begins at conception, that it is a logical position to take.

What I don’t understand, however, is if Mr. McDonnell sincerely believes this, why he is unwilling to, first, state his position clearly and, second, let the voters of Virginia understand how his beliefs will inform his actions as Governor.

As governor, and in furtherance of his beliefs, will Mr. McDonnell take steps to reduce the right of Virginia women to have access to medical care pursuant to a choice guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States? Will women face greater restrictions and more hurdles before they are able to exercise their rights? If so, specifically what can the women of Virginia expect from a McDonnell administration in this regard.

As for gay rights, Mr. McDonnell’s website sates, “Bob McDonnell believes marriage is the union between one man and one woman.” Fair enough.

But several years ago, Mr. McDonnell sought to block the reappointment of a Newport News Circuit Judge named Verbina Askew because she was allegedly gay. McDonnell, of course, is not an idiot. He went to great pains to assert that the judge’s sexual orientation did not matter to him; rather, the fact that she may have violated Virginia anti-sodomy statute in force at the time, which prohibited oral and anal sex, was a factor to consider in her reappointment.

Said McDonnell at the time, “It [possible sodomy] certainly raises some questions about the qualifications to serve as a judge."

McDonnell also said, "There is certain homosexual conduct that is in violation of the law," McDonnell said. "I’m not telling you I would disqualify a judge per se if he said he was gay. I’m talking about their actions."

(Incidentally, this was the context for the infamous incident in which Mr. McDonnell was asked whether he had ever violated the statute, and he hilariously responded, “Not that I can recall.”)

Look, the issue here is not hypocrisy.

Rather, the issue is that Bob McDonnell, and there is no nice way to say this, is a bigot.

Is any reasonable person taken in by Mr. McDonnell asserting the issue is not whether someone is gay, but rather whether someone engaged in sexual acts that are common in the gay community (and among heterosexuals, for that matter) that just happen to be against the law?

More to the point, where does Mr. McDonnell stand today on these issues? Would he still deny a homosexual a seat on the Bench because of his or her sexual orientation, regardless of the crazy excuse he uses to justify his action, like alleged violation of an anti-sodomy statute.

Would Mr. McDonnell deny a gay Virginian a job in his administration, or a job for the Commonwealth, for which they were otherwise qualified?

And as legally weak as it is, will Mr. McDonnell leave Governors Warner and Kaine’s executive order including sexual orientation in non-discriminatory hiring?

These are important issues that will directly affect the lives of hundreds of thousand of our fellow citizens, and indirectly affect the lives of millions of others. And the fact is that even if we are not personally affected, we all have an interest in ensuring that our Commonwealth is discrimination free and affords all people maximum individual freedom to follow their personal beliefs on issues of controlling their religious practices, and controlling their own bodies.

I have sent emails to Tucker Martin, Mr. McDonnell’s Communications Director, seeking an interview with Mr. McDonnell on these issues, and alternatively, posing these questions to McDonnell. I’m sure Mr. Martin got a chuckle out of it – that’s okay.

Bob McDonnell can duck me and other lefty blogs all day long without consequence, but he can’t duck the Washington Post, the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Roanoke Times, Channel 12 in Richmond and other major media outlets.

Eventually, Tucker, they'll be coming round to ask.

UPDATE: Michael-in-Norfolk comments below: In terms of the Executive orders of Governors Warner and Kaine, McDonnell is on record saying they are invalid. Moreover in a recent case involving a gay man fired by the Virginia Museum of Natural Histroy, McDonnell's AG office successfully sought to have the Executive Orders ruled a nullity - that case is now on appeal.

x-posted to Blue Virginia

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crabill and the Tea Party: It Takes A Villiage Idiot

Several days ago, I wrote about the Tea Party protest on July 2 outside Tom Perriello’s office, and how it appeared, well, extreme and unhinged.

Perhaps it was, but perhaps...

The Tea Party movement is a tiny, impotent and extremist movement that is embarrassing itself and America. It bother me because it is misappropriating the symbols of American patriotism and greatness for its narrow and thermidorian political cause. The very idea that the movement sees itself as occupying some higher level of American patriotism whose political views somehow trump the votes of the 69.3 million Americans who voted for President Obama and Vice-President Biden is both laughable and irrational. Television stations come out to cover them because they are a freak show, not because they are being taken seriously in any political context.

That all said, I also think it is perfectly reasonable for the Tea Partiers to try to convince Americans to see it their way. That is what America and democracy are all about.

But then along comes Catherine Crabill, a GOP House of Delegates candidate (See this report at Blue Virginia for the incredible video – In the interest of saving a bandwidth tree, I won’t be reposting it). To sum up what she said, if the Tea Party platform cannot prevail at the ballot box, then armed revolution (the “bullet box” in her word) in a viable alternative. That, after all, is what the Second Amendment is for, Crabill explains, to facilitate armed revolution.

Look, Crabill obviously has emotional problems, so I don't want to judge her too harshly. But the fact of the matter is that Crabill, at the behest of whatever demons inhabit her brain and soul, simply committed a Kinsley Gaffe -- she inadvertently spoke the truth about this extremist movement. She got to the heart of what these Tea Partiers really believe, namely, that it is somehow a expression of patriotism to overthrow their own democratically elected government because of policy differences over taxation.

And they wonder why others mock them. they blame it on a liberal press that just doesn’t “get” conservatives, and that has stacked the deck against them.

Quite honestly, I wonder why people don’t mock them more.

To date, the Republican Party has tried to have it both ways with the Tea Partiers, trying to exploit the movement’s appeal to portions of the GOP base while at the same time separating themselves, sub rosa, from the movement’s extremist rhetoric and positions so as not to alienate the more moderate independent voters they will need to get elected.

Bradley Rees, 5th District Republican Congressional hopeful, for example, has embraced this movement and spoken at three of its rallies that I know of, but to date he has steadfastly refused to publicly condemn any of their actions, even as he suggests his private feeling are quite different. In fact, on this very blog his campaign manager, Michael Emette, recently wrote about the Perriello protest, “I don't personally consider Perriello a traitor, nor does the campaign,” but he fell well short of condemning the people who did express that extreme and ugly opinion by characterizing the protest as “a couple hundred people voicing their displeasure.”

Well, will Rees condemn Crabill? Will Bob McDonnell condemn her comments? Will anyone from the RPV condemn Crabill? Will any Conservative blogger?

Or is this the Republican Party in Virginia in 2009?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Insulting the Memory of Our Founding Fathers

I have had some writer’s block lately as I have pondered the recent Tea Party activities in my own back yard, specifically, last week’s protest outside Congressman Tom Perriello’s office over Cap and Trade.

I‘m not so much troubled by the event as unable to place these events in any context that is consistent with concepts of logic, common sense and just plain decency.

I understand disagreeing with Rep. Perriello on the Cap and Trade Bill. While I believe that the fact of global warming and the fact that human activities contribute to it is beyond any kind of reasonable scientific and political dispute at this point – there will always be flat-Earthers making noise at the extremes -- there is plenty of room among reasonable people of a wide degree of political worldviews to disagree with respect to how we ought to deal with it.

Cap and Trade is but one way, and whether one happens to agree it is the best way, or even if it will be effective at all, it is simply not so far out on the fringe of science or acceptable political and social belief to engender the hatred it did at Congressman Perriello for voting for it.

Or so I thought.

But there, outside Tom’s office, were my neighbors calling their Congressman “traitor” and “coward,” and as far as I could tell, not a word of condemnation from any local leaders of the Republican party. Not a word from declared congressional candidate Bradley Rees. Not a word from rumored candidate Cordell Faulk. Not a word from local Glenn Beck wannabe Rob Schilling. Not a word from Delegate Rob Bell.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have no problem with a person passionately expressing their political beliefs, but these are the supposed mainstream GOP leaders in this district. If they do not find this sort of rhetoric objectionable, then I submit we have nothing to debate with the Republican Party. Let them pitch their fits, but don’t give them the attention they so desperately seem to require.

While I don’t think this sort of behavior is consistent with healthy or productive political debate, engagement is pointless. Whether this movement ascends to power or simply becomes a marginalized small group remains to be seen, but I suspect the latter because the political circumstances are not even close to supporting the level of anger these people seem to have, notwithstanding the fact that in their fevered imaginations these people seem to imagine themselves as some kind of modern-day iteration of the Patriots of the American Revolution.

They are nothing of the kind. In fact, in their protests, in their use of the symbols of Revolution and defiance against the very leaders elected under the system that Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Washington risked their lives for, these Tea Partiers do not, despite their loudly professed intentions, honor the memory of our Founding Fathers. They besmirch it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sounds Like Someone Needs A Diaper Change

Another day, another pointless e-mail from the RPV about Creigh Deeds, once again alleging that Creigh is refusing to take a position on several national issues. The e-mail also makes some juvenile allegations about Creigh and Gov. Kaine that are laughably idiotic and internally inconsistent, for example, both accusing Deeds of “keeping mum” about Kaine’s travels for the DNC and “throwing his mentor under a bus.” He couldn’t have done both now, could he?

More to the point, is this really what the RPV wants to discuss with the voters? If so, why?

I don’t know what they talk about at the McDonnell residence over dinner, but in my house and in my family, we worry about trivialities like, well, keeping my job. We worry about whether our public schools will have enough funding next year to provide a full-time nurse to take care of our diabetic son at school. We worry about the cost of health insurance and, even with insurance, the cost of health care. We worry about paying for college for our three children.

Honestly, in our house we don’t care about where Gov. Kaine goes on behalf of the DNC. We do wonder, however, where the Hell Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli and the rest of the RPV will be when it comes to serious issues like stem cell research that might help our son? Will they support finding a cure for his diabetes, or will they pander to extremists for whom it is more important to make an ideological debating point than help secure a healthy and long future for a nine-year-old child.

Instead, all we get from the RPV is schoolyard name-calling and taunting. Do they really think this is acceptable?

Actually, I think McDonnell is a pretty smart fellow, so I presume he knows this tactic is pretty lame. In fact, that is what makes the rationale behind this nonsense clear enough.

The truth is that Republicans are out of ideas and have been for some time. The public is no longer buying their snake oil that tax cuts are the panacea for every problem, and unlike the Republican Party’s spiritual and ideological leaders like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachman, most people, Conservative, Moderate and Liberal, do not see their own government as their enemy, but as their ally in tough times.

Virginians, for the most part, seem to me to be seeking thoughtful, realistic and pragmatic policies to lead us into the future, not childish partisan sniping, but Pat Mullins, Bob McDonnell and the Republicans have nothing to offer but the same old negativity and divisiveness. So Republicans peddle paranoia about the census, they fantasize about a terrorist attack that in their sick imaginations will jumpstart support for their campaign of violence and hatred against immigrants, and here in Virginia, they level irrelevant and pointless charges against their political opponents in order to distract voters.

The RPV’s tactics amount to nothing more than Pat Mullins and Bob McDonnell acting like spoiled brats that no one will listen to, so they are now stomping their feet, crying and holding their breath till they turn blue. And as with watching a toddler throw a temper tantrum, it isn’t fun and it isn’t interesting. As a matter of fact, as anyone who has witnessed such a fit being pitched, more than anything it is an uncomfortable and humiliating experience not only for the child involved, but also for the unfortunate adults unlucky enough to witness the spectacle.

For goodness sakes, will someone please change these guy’s diapers and burp them, if only so they will shut up and let the adults talk to one another.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

GOP Strategy Against Deeds is an Admission They Hold Weak Cards

Yesterday, Bob Holsworth at Virginia Tomorrow detailed the GOP playbook against Creigh Deeds for 2009, namely, tie him to Tim Kaine:
Republicans assume that Kaine has little flexibility on issues- his role essentially requires him to defend whatever policies emerge from the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the next four months.

Health care reform. Overdue.

Cap and trade. Farsighted energy policy.

Card check. Leveling the playing field for workers.

Climate Change. Let’s act quickly and decisively.

And whatever Nancy Pelosi comes up with…

Regardless of how warmly these proposals are likely to be received in Virginia.

And the GOP intends to ask Deeds (over and over again) what he thinks about the policies that Kaine has no choice but to defend.

That strategy is somewhat counter-intuitive, as Deeds himself is seeking to tie himself to Gov. Kaine. Still, I get the logic behind what Holsworth says the Republicans are doing, and think it is pretty smart. If the RPV is able to nationalize the election, it could even work-- indeed, it might be their only path to victory.

In any case, Lowell has a post up at Blue Virginia that effectively and convincingly knocks the wind out of a strategy based on tying Deeds to one of the more popular Virginia politicians, on the basis that he is not the most popular. Analyzing a copious amount of poll data amid other convincing arguments, Lowell concludes, “[I]f that’s the best the Republicans got, I’m not too worried.”

More interestingly, the GOP strategy appears to fly in the face of the dynamics and issues that look likely to drive this election, and the adoption of this risky strategy of misdirection at this early stage, whether ultimately successful or not, represents a clear acknowledgement that Republicans in Virginia are holding a weak hand.

It is important at the outset to draw a distinction between the issues that will drive this election within the Commonwealth, and how the rest of the country, and most significantly, our lazy, unoriginal, national media with a tendency toward group think, will report this election.

The 2009 Virginia Gubernatorial race will not be a referendum on Obama or national issues within the Commonwealth, despite the desire of our national chattering class for it to fulfill that role. While the popularity of the President is certainly one factor that may arguably affect the overall attitude of the electorate, if recent history and chatter on the blogs is any guide (and there is reason to believe, despite the refusal of the usual suspects to acknowledge the fact, that the jockeying on the blogs now will successfully divine and, in some measure, define the substantive agenda for the election to some extent) the Deeds-McDonnell contest will, IMHO, be focusing on two broad substantive themes more parochial in nature.

The first, obviously, is the economy and jobs, which will be debated in the specific contexts of transportation, education and energy policy insofar as those issues intersect with economic growth and development. In some ways, this issue benefits Deeds, because addressing the considerable problems Virginia faces and building a foundation for the future will require proactive government action, not exactly the long suit of the party of “no.” On the other hand, the simplistic GOP prescriptions for what ails us, the “drill baby drill” cheer, and the usual cries of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, have appeal in difficult times where the complexity of our economic situation can seem overwhelming, despite the fact that they hold little virtue as actual policies. Still, such mindless ideological drivel is unlikely to gain much traction as long as the memory of George W. Bush is in voters' minds. Folks have had enough of simple sounding bromides that sound good, but leave disaster in their wake.

The second issue theme, less obvious and still to emerge, will be social issues, specifically whether Bob McDonnell's extreme Social Conservatism is out of step with current Virginian attitudes on such issues as choice, civil unions, stem cell research, teaching creationism in schools, etc. If the GOP thinks Deeds will have to answer for Tim Kaine's embrace of the Obama agenda, Bob McDonnell will ultimately have to answer, similarly, for Pat Robertson's social agenda. Indeed, this ties into the economic development issue, as well. Will the industries of the 21st century want to locate in a state dominated by social laws of the 19th century? Would a business dependent on creativity and technology be able to attract the educated, creative employees that will drive entrepreneurship and economic development for the next half century?

I suspect that the RPV is quite nervous about the emergence of this issue. And to think it was just an election cycle or two ago that these were wedge issues that favored Republicans. Ah, America the capitalistic beautiful.

The problem for the GOP is how to prevent political nature from taking its course?

The answer is misdirection to other issues. Those issues, of course, need to be real ones.

Outside Virginia, of course, a different narrative is developing. This narrative suggests that the Gubernatorial election will be a referendum on Barack Obama and Congressional Democratic rule. This meme is appealing to the national press because, after all, there is not a national audience for a discussion of the issues of interest to the Commonwealth’s citizens. As far as Virginia Republicans are concerned, Gov. Kaine, limping as he is to the end of his term, is the perfect vehicle to hitch its wagon to as it careens down the road. Furthermore, there is the possibility that this national meme will, through sheer force of national media saturation, overwhelm the local statewide issues, especially in NoVA where Federal issues tend to have greater traction for obvious reasons.

It is a risky course, however, and one unlikely to work. Virginians tend to be parochial in their concerns. Also, it is not quite clear exactly how closely Deeds has tied himself to Gov. Kaine, without which the GOP's efforts to do so won't work.

It is important to understand what Deeds means when he speaks of “continuing in the Warner-Kaine tradition.” It seems to me that what Sen. Deeds is really talking about here is not adherence to specific policies of his predecessors, although I am sure the three share similar attitudes on most issues, but rather a pragmatic, results-oriented approach to governing.

Again, this plays into the two main local themes that I think will drive the election, and allows Deeds to contrast his reality-based practicality with McDonnell’s inflexible ideologically driven approach.

Just as significantly, it renders any attempt to tie Deeds to policies supported by the national Democrats – Obama, Warner, Webb and Kaine – certain to fall flat. For a variety of tactical reasons unrelated to the substance of the argument, I don’t think Deeds should take the bait and respond to RPV demands that he opine on such Federal issues as card-check or ACES, just because Gov. Kaine holds positions on these issues as head of the DNC. For one thing, Deeds answers to the voters, not to the Republican Party. For another, the GOP has not yet established the relevancy of these issues to the election at hand.

But at some point, Deeds will need to declare his independence from the substance of Kaine, although not from the temperament and governing philosophy of Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. Doing so will be easier than the GOP thinks it will, and once Deeds does that, the GOP may find its quiver is empty, save for the same old arguments that have lost them the last three election cycles.

Glenn Beck is a certified lunatic

Watch this video of Glenn Beck nodding in agreement with a guest that the only thing that can save the country now from illegal immigration is if Osama bin Laden detonates a weapon here, because it will wake up a grassroots effort.

I don't usually comment on issues like this, preferring to stick closer to home, and I usually don't care too much about the rants of Beck, Savage, et al., which seem to me for the most part directed toward such an extreme corner of America's political spectrum that it serves more as a source of amusement than as having a serious effect upon any meaningful political debate in the country.

But once in a while they do something that reminds me how truly f*cked up they are, and this is such a case. After this, I really do not know how Fox News can continue to provide this lunatic with a platform. It is not a question of free speech -- Beck is free to say what he wants -- it is a question of judgment whether a private business ought to provide him with a megaphone to, for all intents and purposes, advocate an attack upon the United States of America.

If this is not over the line, I am not sure what is.

h/t - Blue Virgina