David Reynolds: Mark for John, and Bob

Column by David Reynolds

I will never forget what the elephants failed to remember. In Buena Vista on Labor Day 2007 I was having my usual breakfast with them at the downtown American Legion Hall. There was no tribute! But up the hill at the high school where the donkeys were meeting a tribute was being paid. Sen. John Warner, a Republican, had announced his retirement a few days earlier. Mark Warner, a Democrat, paid the tribute. The Dems applauded the retiring Repunlican.

It was more than poor manners not to honor a man of one’s party at the end of a lifetime of distinguished public service. It seems all that matters in Virginia GOP circles these days is whether you are a true blue conservative. As a result, Virginia will likely be a red state come Nov. 4.

I regret not standing up and toasting John Warner myself — if for no other reason than the incredible choices he has made in selecting wives. My guess the reason John Warner, W&L Class of 1949, did not seek reelection was not due to age (81), but because he was offered a Hollywood contract to play any senatorial role of his choosing. Eat your heart out, Fred Thompson.

In the National Football League when a player is hurt and goes down the cry goes out, “Next man up.” In old Virginia, when there was a political opening we said, “Next Byrd up.” Now we say, “Next Warner up.”

Mark Warner should not only represent Virginia in the United States Senate, he should be the model for reinventing the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, the national Democrats don’t wish to be reinvented. That is why they bumped Mark out of prime TV time at their convention in Denver. Mark, like John, is a moderate, which makes for effective governing. He compromises positions — not principles.

The younger Warner is also a fiscal conservative. In fact, this multimillionaire is so cheap that as governor he ordered VDOT to stop painting its vehicles orange. They are now factory white. Annual savings: $49,000. Reaching across the U. S. Senate aisle to equally fiscal conservative Republicans should be a cakewalk for Mark.

Now a couple of words concerning Mark’s opponent: car tax. It was the car tax that put Jim Gilmore in the governor’s chair and it will be the car tax that will keep him from having a U. S. senate seat. While there are 49 good reasons why Virginia’s unique car tax is a bad form of taxation, Gilmore’s experience should remind all elected officials that policy execution is as important as policy formulation. Read: Iraq. Nonetheless, I am thankful to Jim Gilmore for stepping forward. He kept a better man, Congressman Tom Davis (R-11) from losing to Mark Warner.

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Let’s move on the lower house, as we used to call the U. S. House of Representatives. Bob Goodlatte should be given a ninth term representing Virginia’s Sixth District. But I’m not completely sure Bob deserves it. I will vote for him by default.

Will the Democrats ever give Bob a run for his million dollar war chest? Sam Rasoul certainly will not. Sam needs to revisit his high-school government class and learn how Congress (“to come together”) works. It hurts me to see young, aspiring politicians think that if they give a stem-winder speech they are qualified for public office. (Ken Price, you may also think about that as you prepare to run against Ben Cline in ‘09.) Sam, please don’t just be a candidate for those who need to vent their anger against an incumbent. Running a small business is not a prerequisite for representing a congressional district of 650,000 people. And please don’t play the class warfare game. Be a Mark Warner Democrat.

However, if you are inclined to vote against Goodlatte here are three reasons:

– Failure to respond to questions Doug Harwood asked for his Rockbridge Advocate. That is not only bad politics, it’s bad manners.

– Doing earmarks while preaching fiscal conservatism. I’m sure Roanoke’s Market Square appreciates the $375,000 for awnings and other stuff.

– Voted not once, but twice, against vital legislation to free up credit in order to restore confidence in our economy and its financial systems.

So here’s a reluctant vote for Bob Goodlatte, mainly because our congressman plays it too safe. He services the district well and I share his basic political philosophy. But, Bob, life is short, and political careers are even shorter, so stop always testing the political winds. Speak your own mind. Americans love that, even when they disagree.

Oh, I almost forgot, another reason I want Bob Goodlatte to win. It’s my ego. I enjoy saying that my column appears above the congressman’s in the Rockbridge Weekly.


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