I will note that I do sense a change in attitude over at the blogs run by my Conservative friends. This story has really taken the wind out of their sails, and their defense of Bob McDonnell seems half-hearted and obligatory, at best. That said, I’m not under any illusion that will last.
In any event, I think there are two reasons for this. First, Bob’s Manifesto is pretty indefensible, and his explanation that he has changed his opinion is not very credible, in light of his long legislative career trying to implement many of the ideas he sets forth in the document.
Second, I’d imagine that many Conservatives cannot be happy that McDonnell is running away from some core principles. Bob Marshall hit the nail on the head – by trying to pass himself off as a moderate, McDonnell is implicitly stating that there is something wrong with strong Conservative beliefs on social issues.
I would imagine many Conservatives would prefer to hear a strong defense of why mothers working outside the home is not a desirable state of affairs, or why an employer should be free to reject someone for a job because they are gay, and so on, rather than see the ostensible leader of their state party throw their principles overboard and meekly pander to what they see as the political correctness of a liberal media.
Frankly, that’s a debate I’d rather have as well, and one that I think would be much more meaningful and interesting to all voters, rather than the current election consisting of Mr. McDonnell to pretend he is someone he is not just to get votes, and Creigh having to spend an inordinate amount of time calling McDonnell out on his BS.
Anyway, over at Too Conservative, from VA Blogger we get a post entitled Deeds Not Words:
Funny that the Deeds campaign has turned their back on this maxim. As a student in the 1980s, Bob McDonnell wrote a thesis paper using words. As a legislator and Attorney General, you can evaluate his deeds.
That, of course, is the problem. When you look at McDonnell's actions as a Delegate and as AG, it is clear they are fully informed by the ideas contained and the strategy set forth in his Manifesto.
That’s pretty much all VA Blogger offers right now. He does provide a round-up of commentary from Conservative blogs (like this one, only different) that is definitely worth a look. In it he states, "I’m still putting together my thoughts on the decades-old thesis Bob McDonnell wrote, what (if anything) it means about the candidates, and how it will affect the campaign." So, presumably we'll see more on this from him.
At Bearing Drift, where the blogging tends to be, IMHO, less thoughtful and more reflexively partisan than at Too Conservative, The defense of McDonnell is a bit more spirited, with several posts addressing the thesis flap. The result, however, is more unintentional hilarity as opposed to a convincing argument, so you can head over there for some entertainment. “Bob McDonnell is a social conservative,” one post reads, “ He has never tried to hide that. He has been straightforward about his record throughout this campaign.” The author, apparently, holds the distinction of being the only person observing the race so far who failed to notice McDonnell trying to establish himself as a moderate, which, of course, is the issue at the heart of this Manifesto flap.
Also at Bearing Drift, Brian Kirwin makes an argument that seems to amount to complaining that Democrats are ... uh ... criticizing Republicans?
What? How dare we do that? What is this, an election or something?
Kirwin also brings out the old canard that Creigh and Democrats have no plan to address the challenges facing Virginia. This, of course, is ridiculous, and not worthy of response.
In fact, even Kirwin knows it is absurd, because later in the same post, he states, “On issue after issue, [Deeds’] polling has undoubtedly told him that his solutions are pretty unpopular with voters.”
Wait a sec, I thought Democrats did not have any answers. Now Kirwin says we do have solutions, only they’re not popular. I’m getting a contradiction headache.
In Bearing Drift’s world, I suppose, McDonnell has the solutions Virginians want. After all, who has failed to notice the public clamor to appoint Bill Bolling Chief Job Creation Officer?
Shaun Kenney, meanwhile, has chosen to ride the storm out by refusing to acknowledge it except in passing. So he doesn’t directly address the Manifesto flap; rather, he is on the trail of the Deeds employee who stupidly called McDonnell’s office posing as a reporter to get a copy of McDonnell’s daily schedule. An excellent use of time by Shaun!
Finally, at Virginia Virtucon, Riley did a great job of note-taking during yesterday’s McDonnell call. His notes give a much fuller picture of the call than any of the articles I have read.
If McDonnell thinks he put this issue to rest yesterday, he is sadly mistaken. Looking over Riley's notes, I am struck by the vapidity of McDonnell's defense. His position basically amounts to the following argument: “If there is anything I ever believed or did in my life that a potential voter doesn’t like, please be assured that I no longer believe that. And now since I said this, my record should be off limits.”
I don't expect this will pass muster with many in the Commonwealth's press corps.
In any event, my favorite part of Riley’s notes was McDonnell’s response when he was asked how he could reconcile his promise not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation with his actions in the Askew matter. Here are Riley’s notes on the answer:
WashPo summary of Askew case was incorrect. Documents will be sent to reporters to follow up. If complaints or issues were brought up in advance, those would be brought up in a hearing. After hearing, number of things brought to cmte. members that made them think Judge Askew should not be reappointed. Some things were not answered honestly in the questionnaire. Questions of temperment. Evidence of sexual harassment claim that Judge Askew had been accused of by an employee. Settled for $64K by City of Hampton. WashPo article said Judge was never found guilty in court — true, but only because it was settled out of court. McD never brought up sexual orientation. Vote demonstrated that Sen. Dick Saslaw voted against her. Top Cmte. Dem Sen. Janet Howell voted against Askew. Saslaw — what went on in there was as fair as can be. Quote attributed to McD was not correct. At the time, there was a law in VA before a S. Ct. decision, acts of sodomy were punishable as a felony. If someone who was a judge were convicted of a felony that would be a factor as to whether they would be reappointed. Quoted that homosexualtiy was not an issue, believe that there were already homosexuals on the bench. Only cares about whether they would follow the law. Original story was incorrect. WashPo did not do good reporting. Testimony and demeanor and settled sexual harassment claim were the issues. McD was on the same side as Saslaw and Janet Howell.