Yesterday’s Shad Planking drew its normal school of bony fish enthusiasts, gaggles of gun guys and gals, and passels of Republican wannabes. Missing was the usual covey of Democratic candidates, along with any sign that Ken Cuccinelli has a prayer against Bill Bolling. For George Allen it was same old.
George’s same old is this: No matter the facts, no matter your past, pretend there were no witnesses or records and that the electorate has selective amnesia. Yearn for a return to a fanciful, nostalgic past that is a combination of shared myth and vision among supporters. It is as if a team of marketing psychologists are crafting the Republican meme to manipulate perception among the easily influenced. Fortunately for us, this is still a small demographic, despite Republican efforts to cripple education in America.
In what Allen’s team probably thought was a dual-edged sword, Allen took on the role of fiscally responsible philanthropist to show how a responsible private sector champion could eliminate waste while supporting the common welfare. Unfortunately for him, there is memory of his uncomfortable 2006 appearance in Hampton, Virginia at an NAACP forum where Allen balked at joining the organization when invited. There is another memory of grassroots supporters planting 10,000 or more Webb signs along the approach to Shad Planking. Allen’s team simply knew they couldn’t organize a competitive effort without paid stooges and feared another Kaine groundswell. Instead, his team (he’s never demonstrated this kind of resourcefulness) decided to hand a check (funded by the campaign?), to the Ruritans, a group his base can easily identify with. This was designed to call out Kaine for typical liberal wastefulness. But the Kaine campaign didn’t cooperate. Allen’s prepared text had to be modified at the last minute, but his team lacked the acumen to avoid calling out Republican Representative Randy Forbes who did not meet the Allen standard for fiscal responsibility. Oh, by the way, Allen’s four 4 x 6’s didn’t come cheap.
The Allen script augmented the shad with some free market tripe and of that I will write later, but there were two observations of the goings on that should not be neglected. One is that Ken Cuccinelli is an establishment outcast. The Bill Bolling table was along the main path into the festivities. Cuccinelli’s was off in the hinterland (at almost the same location where Webb’s was in 2006 minus the bluegrass, beer, and enthusiasm). The faces at the Bolling table were familiar McDonnell surrogates. The faces (and traffic) at the Cuccinelli table were, well, missing for the most part.
Democratic candidates were absent. Most notable was Tim Kaine, presumptive Republican nominee Allen’s opponent. Kaine was in the region (conducting a Norfolk roundtable with veterans among other events). There were Democrats and others there, but not many who were not self-identified Tea Partiers; at whom the Allen marketing psychologists directed a not very subtle t-shirt appeal with a subdued Gadsden flag shadowed on the back. Not a visible sign of Terry or Chap or anyone else who matters to the future of Democratic fortunes.
But there were at least two souls who will someday wonder what in heaven’s name possessed them to attend an event at which they found no joy. These are young men who are running as Republicans for city council in Virginia Beach. They found few familiar faces in the throng; not many with whom they had much in common. One is a former Rigell campaign staffer who told Thelma Drake on election night that Representative Nye’s defeat was providence. The other is a fellow who realized yesterday that he is not establishment VBRP; if he were, they would have told him to wave off this event as they did. Instead they wandered aimlessly, not even finding each other.
Back to those Allen 4 x 6’s. They are stark. Black and white. Those marketing psychologists have, however, taken a decision that may be to Kaine’s benefit. They have decided that Obama is an albatross. But if you take the assessment of many who measure the Virginia pulse, including Ben Tribbett, Obama’s coattails are essential to a Kaine victory. Attaching Kaine to Obama may be doing Kaine a great service. I will attach another in the comments section. And the black and white meme is not lost on this observer. The two others follow the “all the above” theme, focusing on oil and coal production.
In case you are interested, the 10,000 or more Webb signs in 2006 and probably as many Kaine signs in 2005 were recovered to be used again. Allen could have done the same, but paid “volunteers” cost much more than the $2,500 in campaign funds donated to the Ruritans.
On the other hand, the meal was more appealing than in past years.