THE PLANK FEBRUARY 12, 2008
I know today is primary day in Virginia, but it's never too early to start thinking about what states might change from red to blue in November. Virginia, perennial tease -- I remember the whispers that Virginia just might go Clinton in '96, and then the glee at my more conservative-leaning election party over the state's getting Democrats all hot and bothered and then dumping them soundly for Dole -- actually looks good.
There's an idea out there, mostly propagated by Republicans, that America is over the anti-Republican bitterness that fueled the '06 election and now blames Democrats equally for the country's ills, but I don't think that's true. A marker of the anti-GOP dissatisfaction and shifting political allegiances in Virginia -- even outside Northern Virginia -- is today's Richmond Times-Dispatch's primary-day editorial. The conservative state paper assembled a truly bizarre, rambling document that comes close, in a weird oblique way, to endorsing Obama. Here's an excerpt:
Few would liken Obama to Ronald Reagan, yet Obama may be the most
Reaganesque candidate in both 2008 fields. A promoter of unity and
change, Obama draws people toward him. His gestures reach out and
enfold. Come unto me, he says, all ye who are weary of the way things
are. Think about it, he adds, we're on the same side. Notice that he
yields little philosophical ground in the process.
Reagan issued similar invitations, which was a major reason he moved
the nation in his direction -- even when citizens did not necessarily
embrace every plank in his platform. Reagan nudged the electorate to
the center-right; Obama has the potential to nudge it to the
center-left in ways Clinton cannot. ...
Republicans have forgotten many of history's humbling lessons. They
seem as interested in identifying who doesn't belong as they are in
encouraging their countrymen to enter the tent. An authority higher
than caucuses, interest groups, and political action committees will
judge the quick and the dead. Somewhere along the line, conservatism
became the movement simultaneously of the chip on the shoulder and the
cringe. Its loudest spokesmen have perfected the aggressive whine.
-- Eve Fairbanks