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The issues, please

People in Wise County prefer to be on welfare, to hear the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia tell it.
Mullins made a comment to that effect last month, according to a report in The Recorder, a weekly newspaper based in Highland County, in summing up a story about a Wise County insurance company that had to close two offices because he said it couldn’t find employees. Mullins told a gathering of local Republicans at a Monterey restaurant that the company owner tried to recruit employees from a nearby college campus to work, but “(t)hey preferred to be on welfare,” Mullins was quoted in the report.

Which, OK, that comes across as odd in and of itself, one, that college kids would even qualify for welfare, and two, you know, how much was the guy paying, does he have the reputation for being a hard guy to work for, those kinds of things could have been factors, too, but of course that wasn’t the point of Mullins’ story.

The point came in the unquoted contention from the story in The Recorder – that people turning down the chance to work because of welfare is the legacy of Democratic Party rule.

So this Mullins guy is clearly an idiot for saying something this off-the-wall stupid in front of a reporter knowing that it was likely going to end up in the paper and in the process put his party on the defensive. And no, it’s not OK with me that he seems to believe what he said, and that unfortunately for our part of the world plenty of Republican-leader types believe that things like welfare and unemployment insurance are fodder for the political grist mill and not hands up to people in need of a short-term economic lifeline, but I’m going to turn my venom toward my side of the political fence.

“I was, to say the least, disappointed, but also mildly amused at the remarks,” said Dickie Cranwell, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, who joined Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds on a telephone conference call with reporters today to denounce Mullins’ comment and call on GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell to distance himself from the comment.

“Let me tell you something. The Virginians that I know are hardworking people. They’re not looking for handouts. They’re looking for jobs. When Bob McDonnell’s campaign says that people out in this part of the state would rather be on welfare than looking for jobs, it’s not only offensive, it just shows that he just plain doesn’t get Virginia, he doesn’t understand Virginia,” Deeds said on his portion of the conference call.

I’ll give Deeds a pass on attributing Mullins’ comment to the McDonnell campaign when it was Mullins, not the McDonnell campaign, who made the comment, because party chair is a key party position, and in an election year what a party chair says has to apply to campaigns up and down the ticket. I can’t excuse the Chicken Little issue that I see at play here – because no, the sky is not falling around Bob McDonnell and the Republican Party just because Pat Mullins made a boneheaded comment to a small group of Republicans in Monterey.

I think we could all do without the gotcha politicking being done on both sides – which have Republicans making political hay of Gov. Tim Kaine’s travels on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Democrats running with the latest lunacy from Pat Mullins or the right-wing House candidate of the day regarding gay marriage or abortion or what-have-you.

I think we all get it – that Democrats think Republicans do dumb things, that Republicans think Democrats do dumb things, and that each side can’t wait to tell the world when the other does something that it sees as being particularly dumb.

If a candidate calls a kid “macaca,” put it on YouTube and call the papers. I get that, too. But otherwise, how about telling us what you’re going to do to get Virginia moving forward?


– Column by Chris Graham

augusta free press news
augusta free press news