Somehow I seem to be on a conservative donor mailing list. After that marvelous letter I received from Sharon Angle last fall, the postman has now delivered a solicitation from George Allen, which I discovered in my mail box right after the recent primary. I will say Mr., I mean former Governor, Allen’s letter bears little resemblance to that from Ms. Angle, which was larded through with frantic, often hysterical begging, but it has many of the same code words and the theme of its narrative is not that different. It starts right off:
Dear Fellow Virginian,
Will you join us in our cause to restore opportunity, personal responsibility and freedom in America?
The mission of our campaign for United States Senate is to bring the voices and shared values of Virginia to Washington. The first step is building a strong grassroots team of common sense conservatives all across Virginia. Our campaign is for you, your family, and America’s future.
The 2012 elections are pivotal for the future of our country.”
Yes, there are the Republican red flag code words about opportunity, personal responsibility and generalized freedom (meaning no protective government regulation, and freedom to be exploited by corporate bullies, but what the hey). Who can quarrel with that, even the part about “common sense” conservative values (which means See, I am not a Tea Party nut). Of course, every election is pivotal to the candidate running, but in this case I agree, big time, with Allen about the pivot-ness of 2012. I like the inclusiveness and the emphasis on grassroots. (Are the DNC and Tim Kaine listening? There’s a message for you all here). Notice how the Guv states his purported mission up front and clearly marked.
He sure gets to the ask quickly, in the 5th line, with an underlined sentence: “Can I count on you to play a leading role on our 2012 campaign team?” followed by a bold-faced paragraph that runs on but manages to end with the standard beg for “… your most generous contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or even just $35 to ‘George Allen for U.S. Senate.'”
I am amazed and amused to learn that Allen considers me worth flattering by assuring me I am “one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable Republicans in the entire Commonwealth,” although I have not the foggiest where he gets this, but I graciously accept his thanks for everything I have done “to help our principals, Virginia, and America.” Yes, indeed.
Scare tactics ensue: “Liberal former Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine launched his campaign in April, and in three months raised $2.25 million.” Then comes the insider’s scoop that (underlined): “Virginia is central to President Obama’s re-election plans.” Obama clearly needs Virginia to win a second term, says Allen, and if he (Allen) wins the Senate race, it will probably flip the Senate to Republican control, and deny Virginia’s electoral votes to Obama, which is no doubt why “…President Obama personally recruited his close friend Tim Kaine to run for Senate against me.” The Obama machine can only be offset, explains Allen, by having grassroots support and resources “necessary to compete with Tim Kaine’s huge, national liberal-funded warchest, AND the big union bosses, AND the liberal interest groups like MoveOn.org, AND the Obama campaign.” (This sure presses a group of conservative buttons)
Allen lists what he considers to be his many achievements as Governor, including fighting for “our timeless Jeffersonian vision of limited government,” bringing “high academic standards and accountability to our schools,” making Virginia safe by “ending the liberal, lenient, dishonest parole system,” getting people off welfare through creating jobs, and reducing the size of the state work force while maintaining strong right-to-work laws. He devotes a whole paragraph to crowing that he “cut taxes,” by “over $600 million, and we still balanced the budget every single year, had job growth of over 310,000 net new jobs, and reduced the state employee workforce by around 10,000. Those same policies are exactly what we need at the federal level before it’s too late.”
I suspect that this is what Virginians want to hear, and I doubt that picking apart each claim with dusty contrary facts and explanations will get much traction. On a roll, Allen continues:
“Moreover—- I know how to pass legislation that will repeal and reverse the Obama-Reid-Pelosi policies of top-down, big-government mandates and deficit spending.”
This is a marvelously compact play off the demonization by the Republican noise machine of each listed individual. I also find the liberal repetition of the Republican-pejorative word “liberal” psychologically clever, aimed like a laser at his supposedly conservative reader.
For a man who has said he found his previous stint in the Senate to be “boring,” Allen seems to have discovered quite a list of accomplishments while he was in that august chamber, such that he in fact sounds as if he is running against the very Washington to which he desires to return. He says he was a “sponsor of both the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts…the repeal of the Death Tax, Internet Tax Moratorium… voted to cut capital gains taxes… introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment, with taxpayer protection… a Line-Item Veto… sponsored legislation to withhold pay for members of Congress if they fail to pass budget bills on time… voted against outrageous earmarks….We need to make sure America remains ‘open for business in the 21st century!’” (Note the obligatory bow to the Chamber of Commerce crowd of donors at the end).
Allen then goes in for the kill, beginning by claiming that “Tim Kaine stands for the exact opposite of our principals.” (Underlined) He says that Kaine’s legacy as governor was “filled with tax hikes, broken promises and disappearing jobs;” during his term Kaine proposed “well over $4 billion in tax increases and, while Governor he was “moonlighting as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee” at which time “more than 100,000 Virginians lost their jobs”… why, Kaine actually said that Nancy Pelosi was doing “a marvelous job.” Allen clearly hopes the reader is as appalled as he is.
A little later he pounds away at Obama’s record: “…after just two years with absolute control over the government, President Obama and the liberals built a record that is terribly harmful to the American Dream,” including putting America into over $14 trillion in debt, a stagnant economy with double digit unemployment, an “unpopular and unworkable trillion-collar government takeover of health care… and a failure of leadership to secure our borders and reform our immigration laws.” (Never mind that Obama hardly had “absolute control” given Republican obstructionism, never mind whence came the deficit or the economic disaster, it all belongs to Obama and those liberals now. Note the sleek pre-emptive appropriation of ‘The American Dream’ for Republican purposes).
One thing Allen’s letter is refreshingly clear about is a succinct statement of his agenda; if elected he will:
* Stop ALL Obama tax hikes, keep the internet tax-free, and permanently repeal the Death Tax
* Cut taxes on job-creating businesses to attract new investments and high-paying jobs
* Unleash American energy resources for jobs, lower energy bills, and national security
* Block the EPA’s efforts to harm American families with job-destroying regulations
* Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
That is what Allen calls “the truthful choice in this race,” and it is well-crafted to appeal to Virginians at all levels of income, including the unemployed, all across the Commonwealth. It is not until well down page 4, the very last page of the letter that Allen repeats his solicitation for my “Pledge Support” of $1,000 in steps down to $35—- a refreshing change from Sharon Angle’s constant pleading every other paragraph. Needless to say, though, he manages to repeat the specific ask again (that makes 3 times) in a P.S., which also says confidentially,
“My friend… I must have your full support. Because I’m not just running against Tim Kaine—- I’m running against the Washington liberal establishment, the Obama campaign machine (the President and Chairman Kaine are close friends), and their cheerleaders in the media.”
There you have it, the campaign narrative of George Allen. He is running against Obama, the rotten economy which is all Obama’s fault, the liberal-led dysfunctional government in Washington, and Obama’s friend Tim Kaine, who wasn’t much of a governor anyway, according to Allen. He states the problem, says he will do something about it, and tells you what he will do.
It is a pretty compact message, one which cannot, IMO, be successfully countered with a point-by-point refutation. Only an emotion-based positive vision for Virginia and America can offset Allen’s version of reality. I do not myself believe that Obama’s namby-pamby “I will have a jobs program in September” which offers nothing new, just more of the same tired Freidman economics of tax-cuts-for-business-to-create-jobs is going to be an effective counter to Allen’s argument. Kaine (and Obama) will have to be as succinct and forceful as Allen in presenting an alternate philosophy of society, economics, and the purpose of government, going well outside the Republican frame,and creating a new, Democratic frame.