George Allen catches a break: Staying ahead of the story

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    by Paul Goldman

    If the Post and the Republicans had been reading  Blue Virginia a month ago, they would have seen discussed here what they think now makes news 30 days later. So let’s try to give them something to write and talk about in the future when they awaken to the real world of Virginia.

    Fact: The rise of Ken Cuccinelli has forced a recalibration of Virginia Republican politics. In large measure, you now have BC – before Cuccinelli got to be AG – and AC – after Kenny C and his sunshine band started playing their version of the Republican theme song.

    Governor McDonnell might escape KC’s gravitational pull, given the power and prestige of his office. I said “might”: the jury as they say, is still out. But given that His Excellency is determined to become the greatest “borrow and spend” Governor in history, the jury foreman might be ready to ask for a vote. More on this after I crunch the numbers next month.

    But LG Bill Bolling [or was that Bill Bailey?] knows there is no coming home again, so he has been ensnared (as will every other candidate for a state office until there is some resolution on the World Of Things According Cuccinelli).

    Conventional wisdom has KC as the rising star of the GOP. Not since Tom Dewey has a guy holding such a lower ballot office had people put his name and “For President” in the same sentence, at least people who could pass, barely for sure, the McNaughton test first used in England during the 19th century.

     

    KC and his Sunshine band have playing mostly loud music and Judge Hudson liked their demo tape. However, it remains to be seen whether it gets cut into a real record. The Supremes, albeit without Diana Ross, might like the beat but it is hard seeing them dancing to the tune. Time will tell.

    The public opinion polls say the people are still not sure whether KC is firing on all cylinders or whether the boy from Hope – or is it hopeless? – is a quart low. Put me on the side of those who see the oil light saying pull over before you blow your engine.

    But then, I am not voting in the GOP Senate primary in 2012, most likely anyway. Many hundreds of thousands of Virginians will, however, and according to the Tea Party, there will have to be a new door, way right of the current one, constructed to get people out to the polling places. Being someone who believes in improving access to the polls, another door makes sense to me, especially given this posse. They are like a crowd at one of those European soccer matches…

    So eager apparently are those wanting entry, some indicate a believe that former GOP Senator George Allen, who in large measure created the modern conservative leaning Republican Party, has aged badly, losing the edge to his right side play calling. They see him looking for yardage with plays to the middle of the field, not your down and out towards the right hash mark. They say George’s arm can’t throw that pass any more. It does tend to take a young, fresh arm to fire the clothes line that far.

    Believing George needs to hang up the cleats, one of VA’s top tea baggers – Jamie Radtke – has said she is ready to sandbag Allen’s comeback (should Allen run in next year’s GOP Senator primary to take on Jim Webb, the Democratic incumbent who must be presumed to be running until he says otherwise). Radtke is out there making the anti-Allen case, as are others on the GOP right, accusing the former GOP Senator of being, well….too Republican as far as I can tell. They say he should have voted with the Democrats on budgets, spending, war policy, the opposite of what every Republicans around the state and nation admired about GOP President George Bush.

    As best I can tell, the tea party challengers to Allen say they would have made better Republicans because they would have supported Pelosi, Reid, Ted Kennedy, whatever, opposed Bush all the way, and now Obama too. Even Reagan is too liberal, Nixon basically a commie for having gone to China….they could Keep Cool with Coolidge though. …Silent Cal liked tea.  

    Confusing? Yes it is, at least to those of us who can pass the McNaughton Test, maybe not on the first try, but surely on the second or third if we can show proof of a degree from a for-profit college, or at least a big loan.  

    Which is why all these early challengers to George Allen are good for him. How can that be, you say? The experts who are a month late or more to the story, all disagree.

    George Allen was elected in BC, before the time of Cuccinelli. Those were different days in the VA GOP. But now he is trying to win back his old seat in the AC era.

    So far, as best I can tell, George doesn’t get it, or maybe it is just his staff, I know them, good guys, but they are naturally enamored with BC time, when  Allen was the big GOP player back then. His issues, strategy, persona defined GOP conservatism at least here in the Old Dominion.  

    But as a famous philosopher liked to say, you can’t step in the same river twice. This is particularly true for the Potomac River, since politics moves fast and in the VA GOP, the waters are never going to be the same again.

    George Allen is trying to recreate a feeling that can not be recreated. He either develops a “new” Allen, or the rise of AC time is going to be a very big problem for him. Frankly, I believe he was hoping to avoid the issue and get past the primary without having to deal with this new reality.  

    That was a big mistake: but now he has been saved. Why? The best way for these Tea Party types to have taken out Allen would have been to wait and wait and wait….and then make a 60-90-day run like “I am not a witch” in Delaware, or Joe Miller in Alaska, or the folks in Utah who knocked out Bennett.

    What made Gene McCarthy do in Johnson was the Tet offensive, 8 weeks before the primary. Ross Perot in 1992 was great during the height of the recession by appearing on Larry King Live once every so often to give his little lectures.

    The original Tea Party didn’t engage in a year and half harangue. Rather, they got ticked off one night and went out and did their thing. A good protest movement doesn’t need a big platform, or a long run. A short, well-timed burst is their best political play. A marathon run is not.

    So now, George Allen has been put on notice, he has been warned. He can’t expect to do a rewind and win. Instead of laying low and following the plan of the real tea partiers, today’s wannabes, who frankly would probably been Tories back then but that’s another story, are like KC, they have to have their news fix. So they are announcing their intentions to run already, as if they are qualified to run for the job.

    Allen was a sitting duck for the right strategy. But no longer. If he can’t win now, then it was surely hopeless before.

    • Steve Vaughan

      …he also benefits from the fact that Radke’s entry will probably bring other Tea Party types..Marshall, Stewart..into the race. In addition to the short, sharp charge Paul correctly identified, an insurgency needs to not fracture its vote (as the split between McCarthy and R. Kennedy gave us Humphrey or LBJ Lite). That appears to be happening already.