March 5, 2009
(Actually, it was in Verona, but that's close enough.) The Republican candidate for governor (and attorney general until he resigned last week), Bob McDonnell, spoke to a group of 60 or so supporters at a meeting this afternoon at the Augusta County Government Center. It was a rousing pep talk, hitting all the main points with just the right emphasis and balance. Some of the party activists may have felt uncomfortable when McDonnell said that mobilizing the party "Base" was not enough to win elections: "Where we failed to connect was with the independent voters."
Of course, some Republicans are appalled at the very idea of appealing to independents, falsely equating it with "compromising on principles," or some such claptrap. Fortunately, Bob McDonnell is smart enough to learn the right lesson from the recent string of Republican defeats, and he is focusing his campaign on tackling real-world problems faced by Virginians. He is carefully downplaying the ideological factor, which is a delicate maneuver given the precarious state of the Republican Party today, but I think he is just the right person to pull it off. He is calm and level-headed, exuding the qualities of responsibile leadership, and he is very sincere. Someone asked McDonnell about a Washington Post article which noted that "McDonnell stayed silent on almost every bedrock conservative issue -- abortion, guns, the sanctity of marriage, school choice -- the very issues that served as the foundation for his 20-year political career." Did this mean he was "forsaking" social conservatism? Absolutely not! He strongly reaffirmed his conservative credentials -- both social and economic -- and argued that there is no inherent contradiction between being conservative and attracting non-partisan voters.
To reach out to potential supporters outside the Republican "Base," McDonnell is emphasizing transportation, education, and attracting private investment in manufacturing, among other things. He also lamented the failures of the Republicans in Washington to live up to economic conservative standards during the past eight years, causing many voters to defect from the GOP. Finally, McDonnell highlighted the need to campaign with a positive message: "Smile!" Ironically, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, Dickie Cranwell, said that McDonnell "is from the extreme wing of the Republican Party." Ha!
In sum, this is a candidacy that can bring more people into the Republican column and WIN for a change! Lord knows, the country is in bad enough shape that we need some fresh, honest voices on the conservative side.
McDonnell was in Staunton last September for a community clean-up project in which I pitched in, part of a crime fighting initiative.
After the recent revelation that Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle, and even Sarah Palin failed to pay their full share of taxes, you'd think this theme was just about exhausted. Wrong! Yet another Obama cabinet-level official owes back taxes, about $10,000 altogether. The new Special Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, has to make amends with the IRS. See FOX News.
The Dow Jones fell another 281 points today, to less than 6,600 points, losing 4% of the component stocks' aggregate value in just one session. This was prompted by news that General Motors may be forced to declare bankruptcy, and perhaps to a lesser extent by President Obama's strong push for nationalized health care. See CNN.com.
As our economy slides into a deeper and deeper recession, it's worth remembering how we got here. Somehow, the Democratic leaders in Congress seem to have forgotten about their role in demanding that the qualifications for getting mortgage loans should be lowered so that poor people could buy their own homes. This was the risky policy shift that led to the collapse of the U.S. financial system last year, bringing the capitalist system to its knees. For background, read the New York Times article from 1999 entitled "Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending." The e-mail message I received from Rich Raab was verified by snopes.com.