Less Here Than Meets the Eye?

By Too Conservative

The Post today has one of its periodically recurring articles about internecine warfare within the Republican Party in Virginia. I’m reluctant to draw grand conclusions from this immediately past election. To be sure, one can masticate the precinct-by-precinct, district-by-district data and see a trend toward the continued “bluing” of Virginia, particularly north of the line of the Rappahannock. But the Webb/Allen race was a one-off phenomenon. Webb was an unusual candidate for the Democrats to run, a combat-decorated marine with strong Republican ties to the past, who had the clarity of vision to see the problems in Iraq before we got into them. Allen, who had been one of the most avid, un-nuanced cheerleaders for the War until the very end-game of the campaign,  personally made certain that the race was interesting by jettisoning most of his natural lead at the starting line through personal gaffes and campaign response blunders. Take away the War, or take away Webb’s atypical background, or take away Macacca (how the hell do you spell that, anyway?), and it’s all Republican all the time around the Commonwealth in 2006.

2005 was the un-ignorable wake-up call for Republicans in Virginia. Kilgore lost, Bolling barely could beat a Bella Abzug impersonator, and McDonnell eked out a 300+ vote win, albeit against a strong Democratic candidate. That’s what I call a disaster. We’ve spent the last year pretending it didn’t happen. Â

It’s always fun to see Jim Parmelee quoted predictably explaining that the problem is that Republicans just aren’t “anti-tax” enough. A modest proposal is that we field-test Parmelee’s approach by having all Republicans in the 2007 GA races run on a purely and vehemently “anti-tax” platform (whatever that really means in terms of practical governance) and watch the species get completely wiped out, at least in Northern Virginia.  That will give us a clean slate to work from at the 2007 Advance. Perhaps then we could finally talk about what happened in 2005.Â

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Comments

  • Northern Virginia seems to me to be a perfect laboratory and microcosm of the larger electoral dilemas facing both parties. It really is pretty middle of the road like the majority of voters in my opinion. Of course this all depends on what your geogrphical construct of NoVA is.

  • Try this. Have all the NoVa Republican candidates run on no new taxes – which are not tied to user fees like tolls – AND show what funding and what reforms will provide what transportation solutions when. We will win some and lose some across NoVa.

    As much as the MSM reports that ‘moderates’, Muslims and move-in Liberals turned out for Webb – who ran as a Conservative Populist – Allen bled from his base. The same base that is frustrated with the conduct of the Iraq War (not the issue of going to war), the failures of Republicans in both houses to legislate as Conservatives and the President in his roles too, and with the Republicans in the GA for raising our taxes.

    If Allen had gotten what the Yes Vote got in just the 1st (Conservative) District he would have won. If Allen had gotten what our very Conservative Cong. Jo Ann Davis got in this District, he would have won by as big a margin as Webb.

  • Revokin says:

    This really is simple. Mr. Brown has it mostly right. When you are a member of Congress and they accomplish less than nothing then you are going to be in trouble.

    The same will happen in next year’s GA elections. People slogging through a 90-minute commute that covers 15 miles will *not* be comforted by the fact that their guy in Richmond “stuck to his guns” in resisting tax increases for building roads. Really, I could care less about your guns! Don’t being ‘em into the state house and shoot the joint up! Build me some damn roads! If I was Kaine, I’d drag the GA back for a couple more sessions just to make sure that the votes understand that, with the GA’s current makeup, nothing will ever happen.

    Of course, the secret here is that this has already been done wether our fearless leaders in Richmond like it or not. Think I’m full of it? How much road work did PWC bond in this past election? The road taxes are already being passed but on the local level.

  • Fauquier Dan says:

    It seems to me that there is a profound difference between public policy proposals and decisions that are informed by a coherent conservative philosophy and those born of heated campaign rhetoric, knee jerk ideology and silly slogans like “no new taxes”. When voters collectively reach the conclusion that their government is being run poorly, they may be receptive to the former but they will not buy into the latter. That is, in a nutshell, why you all lost the last election so decisively.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m a Democrat and I’d be thrilled to have you keep running on wedge issues instead of talking about the issues that matter to the daily lives of average working folks. And please, by all means, keep repeating the “no new taxes” mantra as if that were the same thing as standing up for responsible fiscal policy and good stewardship of the taxpayers money. The voters can see the difference even if you can’t.

    Most folks aren’t idealogues. They want an efficiently run government that keeps toward the middle of the road. And when they see the national debt go from 5.8 trillion to almost 9 trillion in just a few years they are smart enough to know that is not a good thing. And they are smart enough to see that the folks doing that damage are certainly not conservatives in any tradtional sense of the word.

    By all means, draw the conclusion that your party should lurch in the direction of its most extreme elements. Just don’t be surprised when the voters don’t come along with you.

  • Doug in Mount Vernon says:

    I love that y’all think Webb’s election was a “one-off”.

    Your stereotypes and images of who Democrats are and what defines them are just as pathetic and unfortunate for you and your electoral fortunes as your awful messages and candidates have been.

    If you can’t truly understand your opponents and why they are appealing to people, you have a very hard road back to winning elections.

    Alas, why am I here telling you?

    Maybe I like to gloat a little?!

  • Doug in Mount Vernon says:

    Webb represents the core of the Democratic Party, and he MOST CERTAINLY did NOT run as a “conservative” populist, whatever the hell concoction you think that is.

    He ran as a populist libertarian DEMOCRAT. Get used to it, because he represents the future of the Democratic Party, and the future of American democracy.

    Incidentally, Webb was fueled by OUR grassroots. And we sure as hell aren’t going anywhere. And that’s what Virginia Republicans should most fear–how active, organized, vociferous, and battle-tested their opponents are now.

  • Fauquier Dan says:

    Doug,

    I’d like to think we are as organized as you say, but it just ain’t so. We have one hell of a lot of work to do in that regard. I look forward to participating in that work.

    We won a great victory nationally. If we hadn’t, we would have been in deep shit. With a clusterfuck in Iraq, a President without a clue and a Congress that didn’t even pretend to do its constitutional duty you couldn’t have asked for a more favorable electoral climate. The inability to win under these circumstances has been likened to the inability to get laid in a whorehouse with a fistful of twenties. Having said that, it was indeed a huge victory and I don’t mean to diminish it at all.

    You are right to savor the victory, but don’t gloat. As a party we are hardly a well oiled machine. We are miles away from having the kind of organization and cohesion we should. We shouldn’t try to fart higher than our asses. We should roll up our sleeves and get right back to work. We have elections next November.

  • NoVa Scout says:

    Doug: My “one-off” reference was not to Webb, but to the conditions that led to Allen’s loss. But, now that you push me on it, I have no trouble saying that a candidate like Webb is not a typical Democratic candidate in Virginia. I certainly can’t think of anyone like him. But in saying this, I don’t imply any negative conclusions – you guys did a good job in recruiting him and supporting him. It worked out for you. I don’t begrudge you that. If you can find a bunch more like him and we can’t, you’re right. It will be very hard for the GOP to avoid being pushed into a corner.

  • t says:

    Why are all the NLS liberals coming out of the woodwork to lecture us over at TC?

  • anon says:

    Just think of the impact the Republican Party could have if we became the NO TAXES Party! To hell with no new taxes, I say no taxes at all! Since the topic of taxes is CLEARLY what compels most citizens to vote for a candidate, then we should expect a solid 80% of the vote. The remaining 20% are just liberal nuts and we don’t want their vote anyway.

  • Dean Settle says:

    Allen beat himself. Webb would not have had a chance had it not been for Allen’s self-inflicted missed opportunities. Fact.

  • Fauquier Dan says:

    Dean,

    I’d have to agree with you. Had Allen not behaved like a total self destructive boob he would have been re-elected. His behavior will always be the great mystery of this campaign. Had he not campaigned at all and used his 8 million bucks to run nothing but generic “I am a swell guy” commercials he’d be getting ready to begin his second term.

    I’m not sure his performance down in Breaks, in and of itself, changed a whole lot of votes. What it did was begin the money flowing into the Webb campaign. Before that Allen had the field to himself. Allen would have used his millions to “define” Webb and Webb had no money
    to respond to the b.s. information being spread about him.

    Webb’s obvious qualifications for the job and early clear thinking on Iraq would have gotten him nowhere without some campaign cash. That was the priceless gift that Allen handed us down in Breaks.

  • t says:

    Fauquier Dem, er Dan

    Why do you gloat in victory? Why can you not be a gracious winner and offer an olive branch? Your words offend, and motivate pro-lifers like t to work hard to win the next one.

    t speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaks

  • Fauquier Dan says:

    t,

    I wasn’t gloating. I was agreeing with Dean’s observation and expanding on it. If my comments were taken as gloating I apologize. They were not meant that way. I have commented on the flaws of both campaigns. No campaign is perfect. Allen’s was just totally off the scale bad. I believe that just as many Republicans have expressed this opinion as Democrats.

    As far as reducing the number of abortions performed in America is concerned, I would think most folks would have learned by now the fallacy of approaching this as primarily a political issue. It is primarily a moral and ethical issue that can be dealt with most effectively with a little Christian humilty, charity and hard work. How many years do you have to carry water for the Republican Party before the realization strikes that they are playing pro-life voters for suckers.

    They love having your votes, but they aren’t about to do what you want. They didn’t do it when they held all the levers of power in Washington. They know it would be political suicide because most Americans don’t want what you want.

    I’m not saying I find fault with your moral position. I am saying that electoral politics will never be the way to reduce the number of abortions performed. It is a pity that all that energy isn’t directed in a way it can do some good. Trying to sell the idea that Jesus votes Republican doesn’t get the job done. And it trivializes faith.

  • From Fauquier Dan:
    “I’d have to agree with you. Had Allen not behaved like a total self destructive boob he would have been re-elected. His behavior will always be the great mystery of this campaign. Had he not campaigned at all and used his 8 million bucks to run nothing but generic “I am a swell guy” commercials he’d be getting ready to begin his second term.”

    Just a thought, or maybe a question: Perhaps the mystery of why Allen self-destructed (and I do agree that he lost the election as much as Webb won it) is because Webb’s candidacy started to make him nervous.

    Perhaps the thought of running against a self-confident, former Marine war hero who was also a former Reagan Republican got just enough under his skin to make him gaffe prone in a way he wouldn’t have been running against a different candidate.

    Of course, Allen did beat former Vietnam veteran and Marine Chuck Robb. But then Allen was able to run as an outsider coming to shake Washington up. This time, he couldn’t run the same type of campaign. Allen always did better running as the challenger from the outside.

    Again, those are just some thoughts on the mystery of why he self-destructed.

  • anon says:

    I agree with Fauquier Dan. The Republicans are playing the conservative base for suckers. Abortion laws, still the same. Marriage amendment passed congress with Republican controlling all Congress? Nope. Stem cell research – states are throwing money at it. Congress allowing more prayer in scholls and public places? Again no.

    Tax cuts for the wealthy? Absolutley. Corporate-friendly tax policies? You betcha.

    Here’s Tucker Carlson on Chris Mathews, Oct 9th, 2006:

    “CARLSON: It goes deeper than that though. The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power. Everybody in…

    MATTHEWS: How do you know that? How do you know that?

    CARLSON: Because I know them. Because I grew up with them. Because I live with them. They live on my street. Because I live in Washington, and I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the evangelicals. And the evangelicals know that, and they’re beginning to learn that their own leaders sort of look askance at them and don’t share their values.

    MATTHEWS: So this gay marriage issue and other issues related to the gay lifestyle are simply tools to get elected?

    CARLSON: That’s exactly right. It’s pandering to the base in the most cynical way, and the base is beginning to figure it out.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fcannonfire.blogspot.com%2F2006%2F10%2Fchristianity-is-best-image.html

  • FairfaxGOPer says:

    t, how do we stop someone like Tom Davis, a squishy RINO, from getting the nomination for Senate? I am tired of hearing everyone talk like he is the heir apparent to Warner, who I don’t really care for either.

  • t says:

    FairfaxGOPer,

    Good folks like you and me around the Commonwealth can’t stand Tom Davis. Davis has extremely limited appeal outside of NOVA-ville. The key is for all pro-lifers to unite behind ONE pro-life candidate. If we have two or more pro-lifers, then we split the vote, and liberal Tom takes a plurality. This must not happen.

    t agrees with you on Warner, too.

  • Ben Dover says:

    t, et al:

    I respect your beliefs, but have to agree with Fauquier Dan, as well. I think that playing exclusively to the base is going to be a quick trip to the loser’s bracket. If you read about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s landslide win in Cali, it’s clear that the deciding factor was his appeal to the middle (moderates and independents). That was the lesson learned.

    Is Cali like NOVA? Not yet, but I think that more than 1/3 of voters nationally, and I suspect in NOVA, regard themselves to be independents. I just don’t see how a hard right candidate consumed with social issues is going to reel in this segment of the voters, particularly with all of the other non-social issue problems we face.

    Take Dick Black, for example, who I know you respect. His scorecard on pro-life issues makes him the ideal candidate for the pro-lifers, but his inability to address anything else cost him re-election.

    I don’t see this pattern changing, do you?

  • t says:

    Ben Dover,

    Thank you for your comments. That is why t has called for principled conservatives to espouse new “slow-growth” policies to attract back those independents, who are frustrated sitting in traffic. Corey is a good example of someone who successfully did that. But we can never compromose on pro-life. And we never will.

  • Dean Settle says:

    Anon… Aside from working your part-time job at Burger King and not having to pay in taxes, you’re ticked off that you didn’t get money back….aren’t you?

    THOSE are the only people who did not benefit from the tax cuts, slick. People who didn’t pay in, but expected money back.

    Every parent out here got $500 more for each child under the cuts.
    Every business had more operating capital to provide more work and jobs.

    So stop whining as an uninformed jerkoff who is now repeating an old and busted bit of propoganda as if it was actually factual.

    You really cannot believe everything you read on Moveon.org or the dimbo underground, son.
    I’ve seen it first hand, and I’ll tell you, every word I just typed is true.

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