David Reynolds: If it’s Labor Day …

Column by David Reynolds

… then I must have breakfast in Buena Vista. But where? Up the hill at the high school or down in town at the American Legion Hall. With the Dems or with the Republicans? My usual choice is to breakfast downtown and hear what the elephants have to say. But as candidates like to say, “This year is different.” And, of course, the candidates are always right. Every year is different.

So, I decided to be a donkey this year. I know, I know, I am a conservative, but there are times when I try not to be a darn fool.

There were other considerations in switching venues. First of all, as reported by my daughter from Denver, the Dems had just returned from getting high in the Mile High City. I wanted to hear if Mark Warner agreed with her. (I know that’s a silly question.) Plus my good friend Creigh Deeds would be there. (Actually Creigh is everywhere two or more Democrats gather.)

Another reason is that on Labor Day ‘08 the big elephant circus was scheduled to be held up the Mississippi in Minnesota. Why hear elephants scream in person when I could turn on the tube and hear the same sound?

The final reason is a regrettable one: The Virginia Republican Party left me; I did not leave the party. And to makes matters worse, the Virginia GOP failed to provide me with a smooth road for my departure. It still believes that VDOT can run on a shoestring.

As for the breakfast, the food was good, and the coffee was hot. As for the speeches, three stood up who were also standing for public office. Up first was Sam Rasoul, a big underdog to Bob Goodlatte. Then Creigh Deeds took the mike. Our state senator has more on his mind than being a state senator. Creigh gives a better speech every time I hear him. Finally, Mark Warner, a big top dog to become a U.S. senator, took over the room, which he called “family,” not the partisan gathering he just experienced in Denver. And maybe would like to forget. I asked Mark about being bumped out of prime time as keynoter at the Democratic National Convention. He smiled and simply said, “It was not my choice.”

For more of what was seen and heard on Labor Day in BV, see the op-ed page. But let’s go back to last week when the Democrats staged their big show, the DNC. First, there was the convention with no theme and little red meat for the partisans to chew on. There seemed to be no agenda.

This allowed for an opening for those with an agenda – Mr. & Mrs. Narcissism. The Clinton Convention took over. Is there any doubt who will be the next Democratic Party candidate if Barack doesn’t win? There will be no need for party primaries, just shoot off fireworks over another stadium. It will be 2012, an Olympic year, so why not.

And then there was the acceptance speech convention that sounded like every State of the Union speech I have ever heard. But before that we were subjected to what my kids call music. Why have rock music when rock fans don’t vote? Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow have written and sung fine music for those of my generation who do vote. Recommendation: No one under 50 should manage a political convention.

As for the speech itself, it is difficult to criticize unless you have the same problem I have. My problem is my memory. I can still remember what happened yesterday. Such as the roadblocks Mr. Obama’s party has erected to virtually everything he said in that speech. But, political speechwriters are smart. They know that most Americans suffer from another problem – amnesia. Attention span is now measured in seconds, not days. Few care what was said yesterday. Only what is said today. Past performance is a measure we reserve for investing money, not for evaluating candidates and their parties.

Think about all the votes you have cast. When you cast them did you know your candidate’s past performance? Next time, please try to remember.

Before closing and in the interest of full disclosure, I must mention another personal problem. After spending a previous lifetime in government service, one begins to understand what works and what does not in spending your money. That is another reason why the 29-point laundry list speech by a junior senator from Illinois bothers me. But I must not get too set in my views. Therefore, I have added two items to my bucket list: (1) Continue to alternate breakfast venues every Labor Day in Buena Vista; and (2) go moose hunting with the governor of Alaska.



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