First, a recap of the action:
On Aug. 10, NLS published a picture that appeared to show the flag being displayed at a McDonnell booth at a gun show in Richmond. Turns out, however, that NLS had it wrong; the flag belonged to the booth next to McDonnell’s, which sold, among other things, Confederate-themed t-shirts.
Popular Conservative blog Bearing Drift, took Ben Tribbet to task for publishing the story, under the headline, “What We’ve Come To Expect From Virginia’s Biggest Democratic Bloggers.” Bearing Drift’s argument, from someone named Jason Kenney, in essence was that the NLS story was completely false, and NLS's publishing of the story is evidence of Ben's moral unfitness to blog.
I say, before jumping to conclusions, look at the photograph, for goodness sakes.
It is beyond reasonable dispute that the flag is clearly positioned on the border between the two booths.
Was that just kismet?
Well, Mr. Kenney can believe what he wishes about stage photographs, but that seemed like too innocent an explanation for a cynic like me. Indeed, an anonymous comment posted on NLS from someone alleging to be a Conservative and an eyewitness addresses this issue in what seems to me to be a convincing manner (but it is anonymous, so assign whatever credibility you wish to it):
The flag is not owned by the Sportsman for McDonnell group, it is owned by the confederate group to their left. However, I also had the same reaction when I saw the flag right next to the Sportsman for McDonnell table and approached those working it to inquire. They were not concerned, and told me they had requested the confederate guys place the flag there so it would be a part of both booths. That's probably why Tucker Martin is in the Washington Post saying he spoke to their volunteers instead of letting them speak directly to the reporters. One of the McDonnell volunteers even had a flag t-shirt on with the "Heritage Not Hate" slogan on it.
So not the McDonnell flag, but also not the non-story my conservative blog friends are trying to make it out to be, probably in an attempt to keep reporters from talking to these McDonnell rednecks who were working the booth.
Here is what strikes me about this whole sordid story, if this post is true. It is yet another example of Mr. McDonnell trying to have it both ways in this campaign. On the one hand, at the gun show, his campaign perhaps wanted to associate itself with the Confederate flag, a powerful symbol. Then, busted by a photograph in which the symbolism of the flag might be misunderstood in a negative light, the McDonnell simply denies ... reality. (For the record, I don’t care about the flag being in or near the McDonnell booth. Bob McDonnell is a lot of things, but he is no racist, and symbols like the Confederate flag need to be viewed in context).
Hmmm? Where have I seen this double-dealing behavior before? Oh right, from Bob McDonnell. This is a candidate, after all, who favors criminalizing abortion in virtually all circumstances, and who has introduced literally dozens of bills in the General Assembly seeking to limit a woman’s right to choose, but who claims to be a moderate searching for common ground on the abortion question. This is a candidate with a long history of discrimination and hostility against gay people who tells us, if we elect him governor, he won’t discriminate. This is a candidate with a long record of blocking economic development proposals put forth by our last two governors who now says he is all about jobs.
If Mr. Kenney wants to castigate NLS, Lowell Feld, Creigh Deeds and every other Democrat in the state for sins real or imagined in connection with this flag, he ought to at least have the intellectual decency to observe that Mr. McDonnell has not come totally clean on this matter either.
I'm not holding my breath. Unfortunately for Mr. McDonnell, this sort of lack of candor has been par for the course in this campaign, and his supporters accept it without question.