Home Virginia Politics Sabato on McDonnell’s Confederate History Proclamation: “this is a disaster for him...

Sabato on McDonnell’s Confederate History Proclamation: “this is a disaster for him & VA.”


University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato has some strong words for Bob McDonnell this morning. Sabato tweets:

Already tweeted about Gov. McDonnell’s Confederate proclamation, but it’s becoming increasingly clear this is a disaster for him & VA…McDonnell is even being denounced in a Richmond Times-Dispatch edit. The RTD normally leads the cheers for the GOV…VA’s national image is suffering. It looks like the Old Dominion again, not the New Dominion so many in BOTH parties have worked hard for…Unlike some, I have no problems with a proclamation saluting Civil War sacrifices & urging study and reflection as we approach war’s Sesqui…But it MUST include unqualified condemnations of slavery and secession. To do less is to elevate 19th century VA over 21st century VA…In his own interests, and the state’s, Gov. McDonnell must amend this proclamation promptly or face long-lasting recriminations & turmoil…I know Bob McDonnell a bit. He was born in Philly, grew up in NoVa, has never shown slightest evidence of prejudice that I’ve seen…He hoped to slip this in quietly to please a small vocal part of VA constituency. Didn’t work. Now he’s being redefined by it. Action needed.

So, my fellow Virginians, what we have here is a complete and utter debacle – but not a surprise in the least bit! – by Pat Robertson’s Manchurian Candiate after just 3 months in office. As if this isn’t bad enough, Bob McDonnell’s “Confederate History Month” proclamation comes on top of several other debacles – protection (or lack thereof) for GLBT citizens, ridiculous lawsuits against the federal government on health care and climate change, etc. – by McDonnell and Kookinelli since they took office in January 2010 (seems like an eternity ago).

Now, I realize that Creigh Deeds wasn’t exactly the ideal Democratic gubernatorial candidate (to put it mildly!). But, to everyone who stayed home on Election Day 2009…well, something tells me you’re not too happy right now! Anyway, don’t say you weren’t warned about how extreme and destructive Cooch and McDonnell would be if they were elected. I’ve been blogging about them since 2005, and it’s been clear to me since pretty much Day #1 that they’re completely off the deep end. Now, they’re proving it.

UPDATE: Colbert King weighs in, says “Bob McDonnell can’t change Virginia’s history of slavery.” As much as he would like to, that is.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    That is amazing. Sabato – the old buddy of Virgil Goode – so soundly criticizing Bob McDonnell. While Sabato is correct in saying that the RTD, a Republican paper, usually praises Gov. Wimpy, so does Sabato in his roundabout way.

  • pvogel

    I wonder if some wingnut gov will have a “Tea party” history month.

  • Peter 2010

    Larry Sabato’s commentary has gotten it mostly right about Bob McDonnell’s latest disastrous move: the Confederate History month Proclamation. But, Sabato stumbles with these observations: “I know Bob McDonnell a bit. He was born in Philly, grew up in NoVa, has never shown slightest evidence of prejudice that I’ve seen…” Note to Larry: call your optometrist. Bob McDonnell’s career is littered with warning signs of prejudice and intolerance: for women (the thesis); for gays (the thesis and the refusal to re-issue an executive order barring discrimination based on sexual orientation); for African Americans (this latest Proclamation that McDonnell hoped to “quietly” issue).  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      You are wrong. McDonnell said that the war was “a four year war between the states for independence.” He obviously is implying that the only reason for the war was the “patriotic Southerners” seeking the same independence as their forefathers who fought the British.

    • Can you be any more of an apologist for every heinous thing McDonnell does?  I really don’t get it, one minute you seem like a reasonable Republican, the next minute…stuff like this. What gives?

      • I don’t slavishly follow anyone’s line. This is simply a situation where I think you guys are blowing what is going on out of proportion.

        I am as reasonable a Republican as you are going to find. The fact that I don’t inherently look for racism in everything does not make me unreasonable. I’d like to think that with my generation we are finally starting to move beyond race.

        • I guess the theory is that twice the Brian W. Schoeneman is twice the fun or something? Ha. 🙂

        • starting to move beyond race.” However, Bob McDonnell is not from your generation, and he most certainly hasn’t moved “beyond race.”

          • I don’t get it. I don’t think I’m double clicking. I’ve noticed that too. Kind of funky.  

          • It’s frustrating that you all seem to see racists and boogeymen behind every Republican statement. I wish I could see what you see, but I don’t. I guess I just give folks – even Democrats – the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this kind of a thing.  

          • I’ll just keep an eye out for it. Thanks for deleting ’em.  

          • We don’t see “racists and boogeymen behind every Republican statement.” That’s a straw man. What we are talking about is this specific situation, but also of course in the broader context of the GOP’s appeal-to-racism “Southern Strategy,” Ronald Reagan’s infamous states’ rights speech at Philadelphia, Mississippi (“a town associated with the 1964 murders of civil rights workers”), the almost complete lack of African American support for Republicans, etc., etc.  Also, it’s just a wee bit attention-grabbing, except to diehard supporters wearing blinders (present company excluded, of course!), when a southern Republican governor proclaims “Confederate History Month” and specifically goes out of his way to say slavery is NOT important.  But wait, of course, we liberals and progressives are just seeing “racists and boogeymen behind every Republican statement.”  Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure.

        • I would watch using the word “slavishly” right now. Seriously.

          • Teddy Goodson

            and I doubt there would have been such upset if the Governor of Virginia, where so many battles were fought (in the Revolution and in the Civil War) had sought to “encourage tourism” by actually offering a balanced approach in his proclamation.

            It is past time that we as a people had a mutual conversation about “The War” (which was how my Southern half of the family always referred to the Civil War, even after World Wars I, II, and Korea). In fact, such a broader proclamation would have been a stroke of genius, IMO. But no, Governor McDonnell apparently chose to take the short-term view of personal political advantage. It’s a real shame….

            Our resident Republican can make all sorts of noises about our reading too much into this proclamation, but, based on past experience with McD’s wing of the GOP, most of us do understand what Mr. McDonnell intended. Considering the present political climate nationally (Tea Party, secessionists, and all), what the Governor has done, I think deliberately, positions him well for national influence with those Tea Partyers.

            PS: Can we now look forward to a re-enactment of Grant’s burning of Richmond? Or Sherman marching through Georgia and South Carolina? (How do you like Shock and Awe when you’re the victim, eh?— In order to show the sacrifices of the Southerners under the cruel heel of the victors?) Maybe re-issue Gone With The Wind?  

            See, when my ancestors fired on Fort Sumter they figured that bit of violence would show those Yankee guvmint folks a thing or two. But once unleashed, violence can never be controlled. Tea Partyers should keep that in mind.  

          • Ingrid

            Instead, he could have invited that small minority of people to the Governor’s mansion, which I understand is now open for fundraisers.

        • Hugo Estrada

          Any tacit approval of slavery is a racist statement. You know that as well as we do.

          And as a person who enjoys reading about the Civil War myself, the form used when praising confederate soldiers is to say that slavery was wrong, but we can honor their sacrifice.

          The proclamation bypasses this common formula, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone when people interpret it in the most logical way.

          If we are going to move beyond race, we must acknowledge the wrongs of the C.S.A., which at their heart was a struggle to protect slavery, and also admit the wrongs that the Southern states inflicted upon African Americans as a revenge for their losing the war in the form of legal segregation.

          To pretend that slavery and racism didn’t have anything to do with C.S.A. is to be politically correct towards conservative racist audiences.

    • He doesn’t see race!

  • Teddy Goodson

    where to light? All we need now is to hear that they have decided not to land in Virginia. So much for jobs, Governor. On the other hand, this spat may not enter into their corporate calculations. Some corporations are funding the break-up-the-union movement, perhaps thinking they will have more market freedom without a strong federal government that might regulate them.    

    • Various parts of my family have been in Virginia since the 1640s. The fact that we’ve all been here a long time doesn’t matter. I have heard the war called just about everything, but that’s because I enjoy the subject and I do a lot of reading. War between the states, war of northern aggression, Civil War, war of the rebellion, war for southern independence, second American revolution – all of these are terms that have been used to characterize the war.

      So what?  

  • There was no REASON to do this, other than to make a small minority of people happy.  And there were so many OTHER ways it could have been done that would have had not only neutral effects, but possibly very positive ones.  But it was not.  It was handled in perhaps the worst way imaginable.  It makes Virginia (and Virginians) look awful, even to ourselves, let alone to the rest of the country.  And for what?  For whom?

  • Shenandoah Democrat

    The Governor of Virgina welcomes all visitors to the Old Dominion, the Great Commonwealth of Virginia, where we still live in the 19th century! A time machine innovation that Southern Patriots will enjoy! Imagine that! Visit the Old Dominion, or better yet, move here to live, and you can enjoy all the racism, white supremacy, anti-diversity values that have plagued Virginia since the War Against Northern Agression. Imagine, you can re-enact historical battles where there are more re-enactors than were at the original battle! Imagine, you can live in a place where states rights prevail, and we don’t let the federal government interfere in our lives! And imagine, we have a State Attorney General who is tirelessly protecting our great Commonwealth’s sovereignty,. Welcome to Virginia! where a time machine transports you 150 years back in time!

    No other state can match it!