Another interesting column by Paul Goldman on Bob McDonnell’s ill-conceived, half-baked ABC privatization plan.
The challenge comes from his top spokesman as reported by Washington Post reporter and blogger Anita Kumar in her latest posting.
In the rules of politics, McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin, a friend and a good guy, just dared Democrats to put an ABC referendum on the ballot.
Delegate Joe Morrissey, the House Democratic whip, came out yesterday against the Governor’s plan, for many of the reasons any number of other groups/delegate/senators have also indicated having serious reservations about the proposal.
In addition, the beer and wine wholesalers, big supporters of candidate McDonnell last year, also came out against the plan as being fiscally flawed and favoring the big guys over the little guys, a point made by many small business owners.
Given that such opposition was surely expected by McDonnell and his staff, one would expect the normal response, this is part of the ritual dance here.
BUT THAT ISN’T WHAT HAPPENED.
More after the “fold”
Instead, this is what Anita reports as their response:
The governor’s office responds — with a bit of a zinger. “It’s not news to me that the beer wholesalers don’t want competition and Joe Morrissey doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.
LETS UNDERSTAND WHAT TUCKER HAS DONE:
He is raising the stakes for the McDonnell Administration big time by taking this approach. Normally, when you need bipartisan support to pass legislation – and you go out of your way to publicly belittle important players which both Joe and the beer wholesalers are in this process whether Tucker likes it or not – you are effectively issuing dares, laying down gauntlets. .
Remember: The people involved in politics, as in other venues, speak in a short-hand which all the players understand.
When you start attacking, the way Tucker did, you are raising the stakes for your side.
Essentially, Tucker has just said that Democrats don’t know what they are talking about on the ABC issue, since Joe’s position is not all that different than most in the opposition in terms of the 8 or so reasons he gave for his position yesterday, not all reported in the media today.
Tucker’s comments have now set up this dynamic for McDonnell:
If he is so sure he is right and Democratic legislators don’t know what they are talking about, is he prepared to take his position to a vote of the people and see who they believe?
Here’s why: The only way to read Tucker’s response is as part of strategy to blame Democratic legislators for the McDonnell proposal being defeated in the GA.
By making these kinds of attacks against those opposed, the McDonnell Team knows it makes bipartisanship harder, not easier, because you are questioning the basic integrity of those opposed, saying they are not doing it out of a legitimate concern for the people, but for something else.
Which means: If the Democrats are smart, and they dare McDonnell to accept a referendum and let the people decide who are the ones really protecting the public, what does the Governor do?
McDonnell’s people can’t have it both ways: They can’t claim to be the only ones pure at heart, protecting the people’s interest, and at the same time be unwilling to let the very people they claim to be protecting decide the matter.
Bottom line: So either McDonnell is daring the Democrats to put his plan to a referendum – which Morrissey said he would do! – or he just wants the Republican house to pass something, anything, and then blame the Democrats for killing it, yada, yada, yada.