Friday, January 15, 2010
EXTRA! EXTRA! McDonnell renegs on transportation promises
Well, Gov-elect McDonnell has reneged on his promises to fix Virginia’s transportation mess.
I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that this has happened!
Not that it matters much. McDonnell’s “plan” for transportation was always clearly intended as so much campaign fodder, and never intended as an actual and practical solution for the Commonwealth’s transportation issues.
Still, Bob McDonnell is responsible for his own actions, and reneging on a promise so central to his election before he is even sworn in is, frankly, inexcusable, even in these cynical times. But it won’t be the last promise on which McDonnell reneges, unfortunately, as most of his campaign was premised on presenting an image of himself completely at odds with the reality of who Bob McDonnell really is.
The trick for McDonnell, of course, will be to maintain his viability as a national candidate while delivering on his “Manchurian Candidate” role to remake Virginia in the image of Pat Robertson (it’s all laid out there in his thesis). To accomplish this, I suspect that much of the dirty work in the social arena will fall to Ken Cuccinelli, with McDonnell simply not interfering with Cooch and instead playing the role of “Moderate Bob” insofar as most citizens are concerned, with a healthy dose of winks, nods and coded language to the teabaggers he will need as he reaches for national office.
That’s what’s up, it appears, with McDonnell’s low key demeanor and overtures to Democrats heading into his inauguration.
Progressives are at an inherent disadvantage compared to Republicans when it comes to acting as an opposition party. Because we believe in the capacity of government to act as an agent of progress in society, we try to find areas of constructive compromise and cooperation with political opponents when they operate the levers of power, even at the expense of supporting policies we know to be wrong because they possess some good aspects, and even if short –term political objectives are impaired in the process.
While the reasons were certainly more complex, it was this general approach to governing that allowed Democrats to seek common ground with President Bush throughout most of his presidency, notwithstanding his record of lying and incompetence. It was only following Katrina that common sense took hold, although it was too late by then, and Democrats realized that they were doing long-term damage to the country by supporting Bush policies.
For Republicans, however, being obstructionist is not only entirely consistent with their philosophy that any government action is inherently bad, quite apart from the objectives and means of implementation of that action itself, but it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. This strategy, of course, has the added virtue of providing the opposition with short-term political gains, as people turn on the party in power because of its inability to deliver.
I’m curious to see how Virginia’s Democrats respond to the McDonnell/Cuccinelli Administration in Richmond and to their inevitable sacrifices of education, health care, and public safety at the altar of tax cuts, much as we see McDonnell toss transportation to the wolves. And I’m curious to see the response to Cuccinelli’s efforts to reverse what little progress Virginia has made in social areas, whether the right for a woman to control her own body, gay rights and other civil liberties as he pursues his narrow Evangelical vision of society.
I do not have high hopes.