Diary

The Focus on Virginia

The Weekly Standard has a lengthy piece about to hit a news stand near you (if such things still exist) about the travails of Virginia Republicans.

Aside from its decidedly, and deeply irritating, NoVa perspective (Tom Davis has a cameo at the beginning…and from his comments, still has no idea what bus ran over his political career), and its disdain for “rural” Republicans on the other side of the Rappahannock, is there any new ground plowed at all?

Not really. But there is one surprise — the notion that Virginia Republicans are “happy”:

Indeed what is striking is the degree to which Republicans around the state do seem happy. The end of the Bush presidency seems to have lifted a weight from them. McDonnell doesn’t mince words, “The central message of Obama and state races was to make George Bush the scapegoat for all that was wrong with America.” And, he concedes, conservatives weren’t any happier with Bush’s spending spree and the failure to achieve promised reforms. Sandy Liddy Bourne, the incoming president of the Mount Vernon Women’s Republican Club, points out, “This is a great moment of growth [for the state GOP]. We cut a lot of dead wood. We have real work to do. The Democrats really outworked us on absentee ballots, turnout,” but with a liberal Democratic president and Democratic Congress, “I’m very excited to have a moment of clarity.”

Perhaps “happy” isn’t the right word. “Relieved” may be more appropriate.

However, to hear tale of some Republican circles, there is neither happiness nor relief. If anything, there is great rage — be it at the Party’s leadership, its candidates (past and present) or any number of matters great and small.

But in the midst of all this is Bob McDonnell, to whom the piece finally turns after a great deal of Beltway throat clearing.

Here’s Bob traipsing through his old neighborhood. There’s Bob talking to a group of Hispanic leaders. That McDonnell is upbeat should come as no surprise. It’s how he comes across, regardless of the circumstance. This is a good thing because far too many Republicans come across as pale shades of Richard Nixon (complete with the same elastic principles).

His greatest challenges will be those things beyond his control, the economy being the biggest. Those that are within his control — not the least of which is his legislative agenda — will play an enormous role as well. So far, McDonnell has made the right moves, getting behind stronger property rights protections (something Creigh Deeds continues to ignore), budget transparency, and possibly even school choice. A word or three on tax and budget reform would be helpful as well, and may be forthcoming.

His chances of winning remain anyone’s guess. But he at least is doing the one thing that Republicans haven’t done since the Gilmore campaign of 1997…

…talk to the suburban base in terms they understand and on the issues they care about.