by Paul Goldman
It might be Labor Day. But Tim Kaine’s campaign should be hard at work preparing for a press conference tomorrow, calling out George Allen and the VA GOP as to whether they agree with the 2008 Republican VP nominee’s attack on the good people of Northern Virginia. Mrs Palin’s belittling of the “permanent political class” got a lot of headlines over the weekend. But in our sound-bite culture, analysts no longer do any real digging, shallow is in, actually reading a whole speech is out.
So this being Blue Virginia, where readers expect a little more at least, the thought occurred: “Come on Paul, examine the text of her speech to find out who she meant by the permanent political class.”
So I went on her PAC’s web site to get the text. As the headline stories reported, the former Alaska Governor did indeed deliver a scathing condemnation of the political class. That she happens to be one of the highest paid members of this posse – did she think we thought the FOX political gig was for free, not to mention her two political books and paid speeches – is of course amusing.
But that’s for joke day, this is serious day.
Today, we focus on her singling out the others in her class. Normally, when a politician attacks the permanent political class, they mention the usual suspects, big name lawyers and lobbyists, or the revolving door between government and K-Street.
Not Palin: She took her Republican brand of criticism much farther however. This is what she said, the text taken from her PAC’s web site, defining the “permanent political class” as opposed to the “rest of America” in a deep economic morass.
No, they don’t feel the same urgency that we do. But why should they? For them business is good: business is very good. Seven of the ten wealthiest suburbs are suburbs of Washington, D.C. Polls there actually – and usually I say polls, nah, they’re for strippers and cross country skiers – but polls in those parts actually show that some people there believe that the economy has actually improved. See, there may not be a recession in Georgetown, but there is in the rest of America.
Palin added, “Yeah, the permanent political class – they are doing just fine.”
Demagogues look for scapegoats; it is a tried and true historic pattern. Usually, the GOP focused its attack squarely on DC, figuring this was the seat of government and the most Democratic electoral votes in the country. But Palin is telling the GOP to lock and load against a bigger target, to run the class warfare attack against residents of Northern Virginia (Maryland commuters and Metro riders too), since it is easy to make them villains in the eyes of the rest of the country.
In terms of politics, Sarah Palin wants the GOP to use NOVA residents as punching bag for their attacks, hoping to make them objects of scorn in America, the symbols of what she says are cronies and others living high on the hog off the hard work of underpaid and under appreciated working Americans.
But the most troubling aspect of her Saturday speech is this: here we are, 48 hours later, and no Virginia Republican has stepped forward to call her out over this type of anti-Virginia demogoguery politics.
Does George Allen actually think he can win in NOVA by staying silent about this type of language? How does Governor McDonnell believe his remaining silent helps his hopes for getting on the GOP ticket?
Cut to the 2012 bottom line: By remaining silent in the face of this latest Palinism, the VA GOP has given the VA Democratic Party a huge opening.
There is no way Barack Obama or Tim Kaine can lose Virginia if the GOP is on the defensive in NOVA: put the Webb seat and the state’s key 13 electoral votes in the D column. Game over.
Why wait until next year to draw the line with the GOP when they have given us the opening right now?
In politics, silence is acceptance in these kinds of circumstances. Once something is brought to your attention, you have a very short window to reject it — or get stuck with it. George Allen learned a derivative of this rule in 2006. Sarah Palin lost Virginia in 2008 in part due to a big loss in NOVA. She is not the person the VA GOP wants to have to defend in NOVA.
Bottom line: VA Democrats need to make the VA GOP take a clear and definitive position on the Palin attack of NOVA. Hello: We have some key state Senate races in NOVA in 60 days. Is anyone at DPVA paying attention?