August 17, 2009
I learned about Bob McDonnell's visit to Staunton just in time to be present for the campaign event this morning. McDonnell was joined by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, the new GOP candidate for the 20th District House seat Dickie Bell, and the man he hopes to replace, Delegate Chris Saxman, as well as several campaign staffers. The weather was hot, but spirits were high, in part reflecting the latest Washington Post poll showing that McDonnell has a seven-percent lead (47%-40%) over the Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds. McDonnell is not at all complacent, however, and he showed every sign that he will wage a vigorous campaign focusing on the issues. I'm pretty sure that he will stay "on message," and not get distracted by emotional wedge issues like GOP gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore did in 2005. Because of the short notice, not as many people showed up as might be expected, but there were plenty of reporters. After answering their questions, McDonnell and his entourage walked into several stores along Beverley Street in downtown Staunton. He let the business owners know that he is aware that the vast majority of new jobs that are created every year come from small businesses, and they deserve at least as much attention as big businesses. At every place of business that I entered, McDonnell was received very warmly.
McDonnell keeps pounding away at the theme that he intends to tackle real-world problems and wants both parties in Richmond to cooperate with each other. That is exactly what most independent voters want to hear, and is a stark contrast to the stubbornness that both parties' leaders have exhibited in recent years. A perfect example of this was the shutdown of rest stops along Interstate highways in Virginia for budgetary reasons (see July 22), and McDonnell's challenge to Governor Kaine to get the rest stops reopened was right on target. I remain very encouraged about his prospects.
President Obama has been chastened by the widespread, intense public opposition to his health care "reform" proposals. Now he has hinted at a compromise, saying that the "public option" is no longer an essential part of the package. (See Washington Post.) Conservatives should be wary about claiming credit if Obama fails to get his full legislative package passed by Congress, however. "The Devil is in the details," and I would be very suspicious of any seemingly-innocuous provisions that are aimed at making the status quo mixed public-private health care system even more dysfunctional than it already is, as a sly first step toward a comprehensive national health insurance program.
Even though I am dead-set against anything resembling nationalized health care, I have mixed feelings about the recent wave of protests. Many opponents of "Obamacare" seem unware that the current health insurance laws and practices embody a variety of implicit subsidies, creating massive inefficiencies and inequities. This cannot go on forever. Thus, Obama is right that the status quo is unsustainable, but he seems pretty much clueless about what needs to be done.