Monthly Archives: May 2005

Luxury of Inexperience

The Washington Post editorializes that Jerry Kilgore enjoys the “luxury of inexperience” and notes the hypocrisy of Republican governors who funded his misleading ad.

On the campaign trail, he has advocated a dazzling array of tax cuts while making facile promises to increase funding for vital state needs such as transportation. A neat trick if he can do it; his fellow Republicans — including some of the very same governors who sponsored the silly ad now airing in Virginia — certainly could not.

Business Backs Poisson

Dave Poisson, running against Dick Black the 32nd district, had an extraordinary announcement today: Some of the leading associations in the country — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — will host a fund raising reception for Dave. The release is here.

It’s part of a broader picture. It may well be that national business groups, concerned about the lack of investment in basic infrastructure and the deficit spending of the Bush administration, are looking down the ballot to where the fight for basic services has been driven — the states. No doubt that states are picking up costs that the feds no longer can handle. In Virginia as elsewhere, the battle then is to prevent the state from pushing the costs on to localities.

It may well be, too, given Black’s extreme social agenda [Disclosure], that moderate Republicans, of which I’m sure there is at least a few in the U.S. Chamber, think things are going too far.

Poisson is a businessman and a moderate Democrat. It seems unusual for several national associations to get involved in a state race like this. But maybe there are more Republicans than we can imagine who say enough is enough.

Try Googling some of the names on the host committee.

Potholes Cost

Want to save an average of $400 a year on car repairs? Get your legislator to find the money to fix the roads! Without a tax increase, of course. In the DC area, 70% of the roads are in fair to poor condition. In Richmond it’s 81% and in Virginia Beach, 78%.

Raising Taxes, Lowering Kaine

Politically, I think Tim Kaine’s rapid response to Kilgore’s charge that he’s a tax and spend liberal is smart. But the execution of the ad can do him more harm than good.

Calling your opponent a liar, as Kilgore’s GOP front group did and Kaine’s similar response also did, is a well-worn political tactic. Yes, some people will be swayed by Kilgore’s charge; after all, a lot of people bought the Swift Boat charges even though they were soundly refuted. Even if they knew the charge was bogus, it gave some a rationale for voting against Kerry. They didn’t so much believe the charges against Kerry as they were still angry at anti-war protesters in general. So in a sense, lying works.

Kaine’s ad is OK as it starts, accusing Kilgore of distorting his record. By Kilgore’s reasoning if a politician cut sales taxes one cent but somebody bought 10 times as much stuff, then their taxes went up. It’s silly arguing whether a tax rate cut is or isn’t a real tax “cut.”

But then Kaine wastes the last seconds of the ad saying as governor he’ll cut taxes “for all Virginians.” One, let’s forget that he hasn’t offered anything that would accomplish that. His property tax plan would be dependent on local jurisdictions and a constitutional amendment. If enacted, most localities would probably offer tax relief based on income, age or assets.

But he also sounds like he could be saying, “Oh yes, I would cut taxes, you liar, liar, pants on fire!”

Why not say something like, “The fact is I did cut property tax rates as mayor of Richmond, but more importantly, my policies resulted in a prolonged rebirth of the city based on reasonable taxes and sound investments, just like Gov. Warner and I have done the past four years for the Commonwealth. Unlike what you’ll hear from my opponent, you’ll get no irresponsible assertions that I’ll fix transportation, education and health care but cut all your taxes at the same time. That’s not leadership, that’s pandering.”

But alas, Kaine tries to out-pander Kilgore. Moderate Republicans want desperately to back someone who’ll continue Warner’s approach. I don’t see how Kaine’s approach accomplishes that.

The Worse Old Days

You think Newsweek’s Periscope item on the Koran in the toilet was badly source? Consider what Ben Bradlee, former editor of The Washington Post remembers about his days on the Newsweek staff.

“If it was really good, it was worth more than a Periscope. If you couldn’t prove it, it was worth a Periscope.”