Monday, May 03, 2010

What if VA's ultra-right-wing governor figures out that there's no satisfying the ultra-right-wing loons?


UPDATE below: Unfortunately, VA's disastrous Creigh Deeds has also been a prototype candidate -- for surefire gutless Dem losers nationwide

What looked to be a natural division of ultra-right-wing water-carrying between Virginia's suave new governor and the batshit-crazy AG doesn't seem to be working out so smoothly.

by Ken

Even those of us observing the halting early steps of new Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell without the handicap of crippling insanity have noticed that he's had some bobbles juggling his natural ultra-extreme-right-wing sensibilities with life in the real world. The assumption that there would be a natural division of public craziness between the suave governor and the certifiably straitjacket-worthy wingnut, Ken Cuccinelli, elected to succeed him as attorney general, with AG Cuckoonuts "carrying the water" for heavy-duty wingnuttery.

Instead, it appears that the new AG's outspoken extremism has complicated the governor's situation. As Anita Kumar reports in today's Washington Post ("McDonnell strikes a balance, conservatives rethink support"):
[Cuckoonuts] has quickly become a national figure through his aggressive efforts to curb the federal government and his unapologetic appeals to "tea party" activists. The more that Cuccinelli's brand of conservatism becomes the standard in the Virginia Republican Party, the harder it is for McDonnell to both appeal to moderates and win over his base.

Willie Deutsch, an activist from Richmond who supported McDonnell and Cuccinelli, said that the governor seems to be embarrassed to be a conservative but that the attorney general embraces it. He said he thinks McDonnell, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential or vice presidential contender, is more concerned about his "future viability."

"I think he's a conservative who isn't willing to fight for his true convictions," Deutsch said.

It's not that poor Governor Bob hasn't tried. He probably thought it would be fairly safe to take actions, symbolic to everyone except the people actually affected, that would impress his social-issues voters without upsetting anybody whose views he gives a damn about: standing by as AG Cuckoonuts overturned the previous administration's in-any-case-conspicuously-unenforced ban on state-government LGBT employment discrimination, and then reinstituting the odious Confederate History Month while blithely omitting any acknowledgment of the central reality of the Confederacy, the preservation of slavery.

To his apparent surprise, what must have seemed to the governor Bob relatively harmless local symbolic actions triggered national outcries, and with surprisingly quickness he pulled back on both. I'm assuming it wasn't out of any kind of principle or conviction, but that he had simply miscalculated, assuming it was safe to "mainstream" Virginians to dick with the homos and the racials, and discovering that it wasn't safe, he simply chose to save the real fights for, well, real battles.

However, that was without reckoning on the spirit of the age, and according to the WaPo report, the poor guy -- who had seemed, when he was elected only a year after the 2008 Republican electoral rout, like the perfect face of future stealth loonery, looking so swell and sounding so reasonable, even though his entire political history as a disciple of Pat Robertson tells us that he's as reliably radically right-wing as an electable pol comes -- is in trouble with the ultra-crazies.
"Bob McDonnell is a typical politician trying to please both sides of the aisle and hopes that you and I are naive enough to buy it," read an e-mail sent to supporters of Virginians for Life last month that also called the governor "gutless."

The disappointments started before McDonnell moved into the governor's mansion, when he began to pick a team of top advisers that included mostly moderates.

Since then, he has angered conservatives by issuing a directive outlawing discrimination in the state workforce, including on the basis of sexual orientation -- a move that was designed to ease concerns about intolerance after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had advised public colleges that they could not legally prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Some conservatives also saw the governor's directive as legitimizing homosexuality.

McDonnell also upset some in his party by endorsing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his Senate primary battle against a more conservative opponent, a sign to many conservatives that he was no longer one of them. [And never mind that Young Johnny McCranky has been running as rabidly right-wing a campaign as this most cynical of opportunists can conjure. -- Ed.]

"He clearly cannot be trusted," said Joe Glover, a Republican activist who lives near Lynchburg and heads the Family Policy Network, a Christian advocacy group. "He's clearly not the conservative he would like conservatives to think he is. I will not make the mistake of voting for Bob McDonnell again." [Emphasis added.]

Oops! Governor Bob's people have tried to push back, insisting that he's every bit as crazy-right as anybody could hope. "They listed 10 accomplishments, including balancing the budget without raising taxes, expanding charter schools and signing several bills into law that preserve gun rights." And the Post notes that such stolid voices of organized right-wing militancy as the National Rifle Association, the Virginia Society for Human Life, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation remain solidly behind the governor.

But of course it's not enough. With the ultra-crazies it never is. For every issue on which those bastions of right-wing craziness praise the new governor, there are farther-right loons who want his scalp for not going far enough. For example, where the president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, argues that he's "being realistic" in not cutting off all state funding for Planned Parenthood, an obvious right-wing target.
conservatives had wanted McDonnell to eliminate funding and mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign to persuade him to do so. The Family Foundation of Virginia sent 11,000 e-mails and 5,000 mailers to supporters. The head of the Virginia Christian Alliance met privately with McDonnell's chief of staff to lobby him on the issue. And more than 1,100 people sent letters to the governor's office.

But instead of recommending that all state aid be withdrawn, McDonnell proposed a less controversial move that would keep state money from funding most abortions but would maintain it in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. The proposal was approved April 21 by a single vote in the Senate.

McDonnell said in an interview that he did not cut all of Planned Parenthood's state funds because it provides other services, such as counseling. He said it would not have been "proper" to cut off those tax dollars.

The governor notes that the upshot is that his proposal lives up to "the heart and soul of what people's concerns were" regarding state funding for abortions. "I think I've been very faithful to that pledge."

Of course, Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation, while pleased with the governor's actions as far as they go, said her group isn't satisfied. "We want him to do more," Cobb said. "And we will continue to ask him."

Continue to ask him, eh? Hmm, this doesn't sound like "asking," the noises that are already being heard from the governor's far right. Still, it's enough to make me worry: What if the governor and his inner circle are smart enough not to care?

Now this could just be my personal paranoid fantasy, but I wonder: What happens if Governor Bob and those "moderate" advisers of his should understand that those loudmouth voices actually represent a relatively small portion of even his Southern-state Republican constituency? What if they have the smarts and guts to ride out the thunder from the ultra-loonies, knowing how the infotainment-news media love to amplify that noise without regard to how much support it has (actually, what surprised me was how much media fuss there was over the anti-LGBT and pro-slavery gestures), and that if they don't give it credibility, it really doesn't represent a serious political threat to them? Thereby leaving them free to simply pursue a far-right agenda without leaping into the traps the crazies would be overjoyed to see him sink into?

Could there really be wildly extreme but not utterly insane wingnuts? As if we didn't have enough to keep us awake at night.


I want to call attention to this important comment left by reader lawguy in response to the above post, raising an essential point about Governor Bob's election last year:
So the democrat he ran against was a brain dead conservative and the choice was between a very crazy right wing nut and someone who wasn't that very crazy.

So that chioce one is given is being pushed off the cliff or being rolled down a very steep slope to the same point.

Where is the choice.

Oh, no question about the disaster of the candidacy and campaign of so-called Democrat Creigh Deeds, LG. Howie harks back to it often enough that I didn't think it necessary to recall, but you're absolutely right to bring it up -- thanks!

There's no doubt that the Democrats provided about as little incentive as possible to bring out the vote in Virginia in 2009. About the only incentive was keeping Slick Bob and, more important, Crazy Ken, not to mention some other horror-show candidates on ballots around the state, out of office.

Still, the perception at the time was that Slick Bob was the prototype for a new type of ultra-right-wing candidate. Unfortunately, the 2009 Virginia gubernatorial race generated another ghastly prototype, as Howie has been pointing out in looking at many 2010 races as they shape up around the country: The disastrous Creigh Deeds, who ran a worse-than-lackluster campaign that was Republican in all but name, cowering in the face of traditional Democratic values, really does seem to be serving as a model for candidates being supported by the official Democratic Party around the country, notably in those Senate primaries coming up this month.

In North Carolina and Ohio in particular, it appears all too likely that Deeds-like drones backed by Democratic officialdom over candidates who might actually inspire Democratic and independent voters to turn out at the polls in November, secretaries of state Elaine Marshall (NC) and Jennifer Brunner (OH), will win those nominations.

To check out these and other races we and our Blue America partners have taken a stand on, and perhaps help out, please visit the Blue America home page.

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At 12:46 PM, Blogger lawguy said...

So the democrat he ran against was a brain dead conservative and the choice was between a very crazy right wing nut and someone who wasn't that very crazy.

So that chioce one is given is being pushed off the cliff or being rolled down a very steep slope to the same point.

Where is the choice.


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