Reactions to ThesisGate

By VA Blogger

And yes, the “-gate” ending is tongue-in-cheek. 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. However, several of my colleagues beat me to it, so here’s a few of the best I’ve read thus far.


Bwana, back to full-time blogging, wonders aloud about the double-standard between this and some of Sen. Webb’s writings in Sensationalism or Hypocrisy on the Left.


Chris also finds comparisons with the 2006 Senate race, where the race (determined by less than 10,000 votes) hinged more on a gaffe than any issue in Searching for Macaca.


The similarities jumped out to me, too, especially with the Washington Post’s giddiness in reporting this. It’s the same pattern of the Post reporting the story, then other reporters from the Post reference the story multiple times during the week, so they can write about how much press the story is getting. Will it get as bad as 27 stories in 7 days during the Allen-Webb race that James Joyner documented? Time will tell.


While I would normally just chalk it up to the Post’s rabid anti-conservative instincts kicking in (and it wouldn’t be the first time this month) in a naked effort to support the Creigh Deeds campaign, Jim Geraghty has a different thought I hadn’t considered:


This race is turning into a boring easy win for a good GOP candidate over a lousy Democratic candidate. If the Virginia press wants an exciting, competitive race, they’re going to have to do everything they can to drag McDonnell down and push Deeds ahead.


Bearing Drift’s Brian Kirwin has two immediate responses, including one pointing out DNC Chairman Tim Kaine’s support of some of McDonnell’s ideas, in McDonnell’s College Paper Has Problems and Attack McDonnell About Covenant Marriage. Steven Osborne from BD also wrote Of Deeds and Desperation, a post discussing Creigh Deeds and desperation.


Riley at Virtucon was on the media conference call that Bob McDonnell participated in today, staying on to answer all the questions the press had about the story in a calm and collected manner. He, along with Jim Geraghty at the National Review, covers the call in McDonnell Answers All of the Media’s Questions on His Thesis.


Finally, Riley also crunches the numbers regarding McDonnell’s legislative priorities in Let’s Talk About McDonnell’s Legislative Record. He finds some interesting numbers if you had only been playing attention to the Democrats the last month:


As Delegate, Bob McDonnell was chief patron of 386 bills:


Bill Topics:


  • Public Safety – 51.03% (197 bills)
  • Economy – 19.68% (76 bills)
  • Miscellaneous – 13.47% (52 bills)
  • Justice – 11.11% (43 bills)
  • Child Support – 2.59% (10 bills)
  • Abortion – 2.07% (8 bills)


In other words:


  • 81. 82% (316 bills) – Economy/Jobs, Transportation, Budget/ Spending, Healthcare, Education, Public Safety/ Justice
  • 2.07% (8 bills) – Abortion


  • NoVA Scout says:

    I see the Post is back at it this morning. They aren’t going to let this go. It seems very contrived for the writers of the previous article to follow so closely with the next article about how the first article is having this allegedly transformative impact on the race.

  • I Bleed Obama Blue says:

    It is one thing to be radically ideological as a young man and moderate one’s views over time. It is quite another to write a rabidly conservative screed as a middle-aged man, like Bobby Mac has, and work diligently over the next twenty years to leave your extreme political imprint on the laws of Virginia.
    I just don’t see moderate and independent voters, especially in NOVA, giving him a pass on this. I think this shining of a new light on Bobby Mac’s TRUE views, effectively ripping off the masque of moderation he’s worn heretofore in this campaign, is a game-changer.

  • AFF says:

    Senator Webb wrote fiction, much of which is required reading for our military academies. These fictional accounts of war, while very disturbing are highly regarded and considered accurate portrayals of the topic manner.
    McDonnell is going to pay a political price for his graduate thesis as the contents are far outside the mainstream and provide all too many controversial quotes perfect for 30 second adds. He might have gotten somewhat of a free pass if he wrote the paper at 24, unmarried, years before he got involved in politics.

  • VA Blogger says:

    AFF, Webb also wrote a quite serious and quite non-fiction piece discussing women in the military.

  • AFF says:

    Yup- an article right?… and he paid a price during the campaign although it was minimal. Allen wasn’t going to be able to capitalize with the disgruntled women’s rights voters ’cause of that pesky (R)

  • Aaron says:

    This will have no impact outside the blogsphere and liberal newspapers. Lets be honest, people will not hold this against McDonnell. They will look at his record as a legislator and AG and see a strong, intelligent, and conservative leader. Obama’s past political connections and extreme views did not hurt him.

    This election is ABOUT THE ECONOMY!!!!! Social issues are taking a back seat this year, and McDonnell has demonstrated that he has a stronger grasp on the economic issues dominating this race. Deeds even, tacitly, admits that McDonnell has a stronger grasp because he seconds every McDonnell proposal.

  • I Bleed Obama Blue says:

    President Obama was/is a transformative figure – Bobby Mac is not.
    All that’s really needed is to knock Bobby Mac off his stride, make him address his ideological position(s), and make voters understand that there’s more to this race than just the economy. We don’t need Jerry Fawell/Pat Robertson/Jimmy Swaggart-style radical conservatism in Richmond.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    *Yawn* see you all in a week, when this episode will be long forgotten. Macaca this ain’t.

  • VA Blogger says:

    This quote from IBOB is very telling:
    “Make voters understand that there’s more to this race than just the economy.”
    Perhaps because even hardcore partisans like IBOB recognize that Bob McDonnell has the best economic message and Creigh Deeds has nothing but mudslinging? Good job convincing people that abortion and 20-year-old thesis papers are more important than the economy, there.

  • Aaron says:

    Whats more important right now than getting the economy back on track? The abortion debate wont chage at the state level and remains a simple ideological distraction, that “change” has to come from the supreme court. The gay marriage debate wont change in Va with an amendment to the Va constitution and that “change” wont come any time soon (constitutions are very difficult to amend). Why is there alway this desire to focus on social issues when we all know little change will happen?

    The Governor has the power to change the economy and that is why it is so important in this race.

  • Dan says:

    VA Blogger, there are elements of McDonnell’s fatwa that could surely have an impact on Virginia’s economy and unemployment. For instance, his position on using big government to dictate to private business which of their employees they may extend certain benefits to.
    Disney is going to be putting a big new hotel up over in Maryland at National Harbor. Disney extends the same benefits to the domestic partners of its gay employees that it does to the spouses of its married heterosexual employees. Had that hotel been planned for Virginia, the jobs and tax dollars would have benefited the Commonwealth. Do we want to create an environment that makes Virginia hostile to such companies?
    Is it not possible that pursuing policies that pander to the bigotry of a small and very narrow minded segment of the population might cost us jobs and economic development in the future? I have no objection to anyone holding weird religious views. We are free in America to believe any damn fool thing we want and frequently people exercise that freedom. McDonnell seems to be a case in point. But when those weird religious views start costing us jobs it sort of contradicts the whole “Bob 4 Jobs thing”.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    What is Taliban Bob’s economic plan? Borrow money? Sell the ABC stores? Try to get regional tax authorities through a constitutional review again (great legal advice his office gave the second time through on that?)

    Oh yeah, his plan is to basically wait for the economy to improve, then say it was his doing. Is that a plan, or the equivalent of waiting for rain when you’re having a drought?

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    My guess is NJSM has no real clue as to the impact of selling off the ABC stores and ending Virginia as a “control” state like 32 other un-controlled States have. Mosby of course in his infinye wisdom criticizes McDonnell’s plan without consideration of the fact it is merely an extension of what Doug Wilder and Mark Warner supported (divesture of ABC Stores) through the Wilder Commission. Offering licensing rights to private sector has been demonstrated to raise sales receipts for states like West Virginia which recently ended its “control” status.

    How does this impact the Commonwealth?

    First, local ABC stores throughout the State do not pay local sales tax on receipts nor do they pay any property tax to the locality for use of the land/buildings for each ABC location. There has been an understanding between the State and the localities where funds are transfered to offset this impact on the locality but as a result of the shortfall those funds will likely be reduced. The ABC Board itself is said to cost Virginia taxpayers 115 million in operating costs. Could we not find a better use for that money? There are plenty of restrictions and local zoning ordinances that could be instituted should the State go the way of “licensing” sales and for all those who think that the rates of DUI’s, underage drinking etc would rise; those 32 States that are uncontrolled rank appear to have much better records in these areas than those that are “controlled”.
    I wonder if opponents really understand just how much revenue (tax dollars that is) are truly tied up in the ABC Stores and the Virginia Lottery, which could also easily be privatized as well to grow sales? The Lottery could be leased to a private sector mangement company which would reduce the States overhead. We also do not seem to want to talk about salaries, State benefits and other compensation for those State employees that are associated with these endeavors and that could be exactly the reason some groups seem to be tone deaf to the value of actually moving forward and privatizing VABC.

  • VA Blogger says:

    Well said, AOF. Expect a scathing, ad hominem attack from Not John anytime now.

  • AFF says:

    You make a pretty good case for selling off the ABC’s. Bob Mac hasn’t gotten out any details and on the surface it looks like a loser. I understand NJSM’s hesitation.
    Not a fan of the ABC’s anyway, nor the lottery.

  • The argument against the VABC is the fact that almost all of the blue laws in Virginia are gone – one of the primary reasons for setting up state running of the liquor stores is to ensure compliance with the blue laws. Those are gone.

    I’m also annoyed that because of the VABC, you can’t bring your own wine to a restaurant. I was at a nice restaurant in VA the other day and asked about the corkage fee, and they reminded me that VABC doesn’t allow that.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Very true Brian. If you recall, VABC stores for awhile carried Virginia wines but ran into some trouble I think legally by only having Virginia wines in the store if I recall. I just think once people really get around the particulars of the benefits, both to the State and to the localities for divesting the ABC, things will change. I often wonder just what would raise revenues more; the tax on tobacco or the receipt taxes that could be generated by the State on spirits if set up like the 32 uncontrolled States.
    If we are really serious about solutions with regard to transportation throughout the Commonwealth than privitization is a start. I know the Democrats do not seem to be big fans of the pirvate sector these days, but there comes a time when you have to recognize the benefits and address the fact that the revenue has to come from somewhere. People may not want to support a direct tax hike, but changing the manner in which we sell spirits I think will appeal to both sides from a revenue generation perspective as well as budget reduction standpoint in terms of the State.

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