Paying for our Liberalism

Marc Fisher’s column on Bob McDonnell is…well, it’s not as much a profile as it is an impression. Fisher doesn’t like McDonnell (or Republicans in general). He’s not keen on McDonnell’s social conservatism, as that rankles his sensibilities and, surely, it won’t play well in Northern Virginia.

I can’t say how McDonnell’s social agenda will play anywhere. It’s probably a good thing he doesn’t intend to make “God, guns and gays” the focus of his appeal. Declining to do so will make life more difficult for folks like Fisher, who are eager to paint McDonnell as a bible-totting, gun-grazed kook. Not that they won’t try — Fisher does so in this column.

But it falls flat. What really needs more exploration was this statement at the end of the piece:

“We’re all liberals at heart,” [McDonnell] says. “We just don’t want to pay for it.”

Are we now? I know that’s a bit of conventional wisdom and it might even be true for some.

But I sincerely hope it’s not the operating mantra of the McDonnell campaign.

The McDonnell Campaign Responds:

First, Bob was paraphrasing someone he had heard making this same point. It was a small part of a long conversation, so throwing it in as the end of the column puts it way out of context. However, this is the point that Bob was making:

In our country everyone has governed like a liberal recently. Republicans doubled the deficit and created new entitlements. Democrats are handing out massive stimulus packages consisting of billions upon billions for pet projects. So everyone is acting like a “liberal at heart.” But no one wants to pay for these decisions and programs. He was speaking universally with the “we’re” and “we”. And he is saying that he will be the Governor who gets our fiscal house in order, who ensures we do pay for our programs, and cut the ones that don’t work. That is the meaning of the quote. Everyone has been handing out goodies, no one has wanted to pay for it. It’s time for serious fiscal reforms. Bob will make that happen.

Bob was making the strong common sense case that we can’t keep governing like this, it’s time to set priorities, streamline the budget and get our fiscal house in order. He will be making this argument the entire campaign.

Remember, Bob cut the OAG budget nearly 15%, proactively. He gave back his state car and cut his own state salary. He also started the Government and Regulatory Reform Task Force to get rid of unnecessary and burdensome regulations that get in the way of citizens. He has a strong record of leading on this issue.

It’s not Bastiat. But it’s close.