by Paul Goldman
Forget Red Bull: whatever tea is being sold at those (Michele) Bachmann Turner Overdrive rallies in Iowa has found a fan in George Allen – much to my surprise. With Governor McDonnell praising the debt ceiling deal brokered, in part, by Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, and backed by a majority of GOP lawmakers, I figured Allen would, as Russell Crowe’s character said in the movie “Gladiator”, hold the line. In other words, I figured Allen would not let the Tea Party split him from the state’s most popular Republican officeholder.
Why? The old George Allen, circa 1993 and 2000, could run as the rebel against Democrats Mary Sue Terry and Chuck Robb respectively. But it is now 2012, and Allen – having been both Governor and Senator – is now no more able to pass as a plausible Tea Party Republican than could Tim Kaine claim to be an anti-establishment guy, having served as Lt. Governor, Governor and DNC chairman.
In this case, even though His Excellency the (former) Governor correctly said that the debt deal, while hardly perfect, saved the state’s AAA rating, prevented economic havoc here, didn’t raise taxes, and began cutting federal spending, Mr. Allen said he would have joined BTO and company in voting NO, had he still been in the Senate.
I don’t get it: Allen wants to join Radtke and the rest of the Donner Party? I know the legend about cannibalism in the high Sierras wasn’t proven by the latest bone findings.
Again; I write on politics, never afraid to be direct and specific (one reason I hope the kid hit a journalistic grand slam today, doing something the major national columnists have never done, as Professor Rozell and I have two national columns in two different national venues on two different political subjects published today), and it had been my prediction that Allen would avoid a NO unless he felt his street cred with Tea Party conservatives was a lot worse than the polls indicated.
Admittedly, Allen’s NO stance mirrors that of almost every other major candidate challenging for a GOP Senate nomination in 2012 GOP and several vulnerable Democratic incumbents. It is also the seemingly “safe” position, since it covers you on the Bachmann right, which is a huge factor in the GOP primaries.
But Virginia presented a special case, as Governor McDonnell shrewdly realized. Due to our state economy’s heavy reliance on federal spending, McDonnell understands the importance of Uncle Sam not only to our brave soldiers in Tidewater, but to civilians in Northern Virginia — an area, by the way, that can guarantee a GOP win in a statewide race should it back or at least not savage a Republican nominee. Alternatively, NOVA can mean a near-certain loss for Allen, if it goes the other way in a race against a guy like Kaine.
What I don’t get about Allen’s stance is this: Governor McDonnell is the role model for Republicans in Virginia on how to be a popular GOPER. The man is 24/7 about protecting his image, and I mean that as a political compliment; this is politics after all, and perceptions matter a lot more than we all like to admit.
Allen is up by 60% against Radtke and the rest of the Donner Party.
McDonnell gave Allen a big opening in the middle. But Allen didn’t take it.
Allen’s missed opportunity is a big win for Kaine, who is now a growing favorite to win in 2012.
Of course, Allen isn’t a sure loser by any means. However, if Allen really intends to run as a Tea Party Hero, he is going to find even John Hancock and Sam Adams backing Tim Kaine.