Saturday, February 7, 2009

How Sen. Mark Warner is making the case for McDonnell

While President Barack Obama is learning very quickly there is a big difference between campaigning and leading, other newly elected Virginia officials are getting their own reality check of accountability.

Last November, Virginians across this great Commonwealth went to the polls and filled the ranks of the Democrat majority in Congress. Voters wanted change and demanded action. Apparently, many of those newly elected officials have sought to stay well below the radar on the current debate over the 800 billion plus Stimulus package.

The question is why?

I have been emailing constantly this week and talking on the phone with conservatives and moderates with both Party affiliations and there is trouble brewing. Many of the so-called independents and moderates that got behind Democrat candidates here in the Commonwealth are frustrated by the silence by these leaders before the passage of the stimulus bill.

Yes silence. Is this leadership?

While the majority of the folks I have talked to are not holding any ill will toward President Obama over the issue of the bill, they are placing accountability directly on the Congressional delegation. There is hardly a whisper from any people like Sen. Mark Warner regarding the bill proposal.

Senator Warner was elected overwhelmingly by the people in November in large part because of his proven business background and what many would call "savvy". A majority of independents and moderate conservatives went to the polls and cast their ballots for him thinking during these economic times he would be a voice in Congress. I think that the idea was that Warner would be a voice on these issues as Sen Jim Webb had been on defense-related and military concerns during his first year in the Senate.

Instead, Sen. Mark Warner has been silent.

In fact all that we can get out of the Senate regarding Warner's view of the stimulus is from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) who stated:

"Warner 's a former Governor, so he gets it."

Nelson, known to rally moderates, reached out to Warner apparently to solidifly and consolidate support for the package amongst Democrats. However, Warner himself has failed to step up and provide any direction or thoughts regarding this bill. He certainly has the confidence of his peers regarding his background.

Sen. Warner is a member of the following Committees:

Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Rules and Administration

People who make the arguement that he is just a freshman Senator fail to underatand the impact Sen. Webb made in 2007. Warner has chosen to sit in the shadows of this major peice of legislation, while having the background to provide much needed experience to this debate.

Instead, Sen. Warner appears posied to go along with the club and that is what has gotten so many whom supported him a bit angry. I believe that frankly Sen. Warner is not confident that this bill meets the premise that it was set out to and he knows it. Otherwise, why is he not out there using his popularity on behalf of the Democrat Party to rally people behind the bill?

I compare Warner's silence to Eric Cantor's (R-VA-7th House) outright vocal objections to many of the funding parameters in the bill when it came out of the House. While I may not agree with all of Cantor's views, at the very least he is out there making his case. Why is not Sen. Warner making the case for the Stimulus package?

All these issues regarding the inability for the Democrats to take secure possession of leadership in the last month is merely just a continuation of what we have seen since 2006 with Congress. The Democrats have the majority to pass this legislation and should do so if that is what they believe they should do. They have constantly referenced the fact that the voters spoke in November, and yet they still cannot seem to manage as of yet to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate where they realistically do not require support of the Republicans.

I get the fact that the Democrats have relished the role of antagonist the entire second term of George Bush, but they have the Leadership now and they need to Lead and simply stop talking about the power they have been given and actually put it to use and let the chips fall where they may.

Nobody said that governance or leadership was not risky. The Democrats if required to do so should go this one alone if they are confident in what they are delivering to the nation. If they are not, then maybe they should tweak the bill and get rid of the programs that will not stimulate jobs the first 12 months and come back to those through normal appropriations.

Here in Virginia, we have our Attorney General stepping down to prepare for his bid for Governor at about the same time people are beginning to have a bit of buyers remorse with the Congressional delegation. Bob McDonnell has already embedded his campaign with a network leveraged through the social media and is taking a page directly out of the Obama campaign playbook and has begun to build upon his own popularity. Republicans and moderate Democrats like McDonnell and have seen his leadership first hand over the years in the Assembly and the Executive. He is reaching out to those blue dog conservatives and moderates at a time when the candidates they supported in November have been silent to the current crisis before our nation as well as our State.

The media makes a big deal about the "mo factor" of politics. Well this Stimulus package debate has brought that "mo" to a streaking halt for those down ballot of Barack Obama in November. The last two weeks has left many a Virginian scratching their head at the very time that Bob McDonnell is beginning to carry his message to the people.

McDonnell's potential opposition in the Fall is still very much up in the air, but recent polling has McDonnell leading all three of the potential nominees from the Democrats. One polling has McDonnell and Brian Moran within the margin of era, but given the last year and what the State GOP has experienced I think many are still considering that to be a very good sign.

The Democrats here in Virginia need something to reignite the "mo" that seems to have evaporated and maybe this Stimulus package will do the trick once it gets through the Senate but Virginian will have to see some of the benefits rather quickly or the Congressional delegation is playing right into the McDonnell's campaigns hands.

Afterall, Virginia is made up of more independents and moderates and even Republicrats than Liberals or Social Conservatives and these folks decide election in Virginia.

Virginians need to ask themselves, just where in the world Sen. Mark Warner has been during this debate. Many of his supporters, including this voter, would certainly like to know.


Anonymous said...

Mark Warner is now running for President; keeping a low profile and decidely not taking a stance on this issue to preserve his high approval rating in Virginia. Where is Warner on any of the big issues right now? Employee Free Choice Act is another. The reason Webb takes stands on issues is he's not worried about keeping all sides, all the time, happy. You might not like a stance he takes on an issue, but he takes one.

And, if Warner's brand of politics is legitimate, then there is a very good case to be made that after 8 years of Democratic governors in the state, we should elect a Republican. Assuming McDonnell doesn't play too far to the right, why couldn't he fit the mold of Warner?

Anonymous said...

Please explain "mold of Warner" further.

Anonymous said...

“Mold of Warner”. Fair enough to ask for an explanation. I like Warner and voted for him, but I’m not surprised he hasn’t been a leader speaking out about this stimulus bill. That’s because the bill is controversial, and Warner avoids taking clear stands on controversial issues. I’m a Democrat, and am comfortable having a Senator that votes Democratic on the majority of the issues, but also talks a great game about bipartisanship and is from time to time successfully able to broker bipartisan legislation. That’s the kind of Senator we’re going to have for the next 6 years, but we won’t have one that takes tough stands on issues that will hurt his approval rating or damage his ability to run for President in the future. If you think this is wrong, that perhaps Warner is going to vote with the Republicans or break with business as usual in the Senate , you need to look at where he is now getting his counsel- Warner’s office is run by Leahy’s and Sarbane’s former chiefs of staffs- not exactly anything centrist about either of those Senators.

Warner didn’t have a primary opponent for his Senate run so was able to take the centrist position on lots of issues, or not take or address others all together. He bills himself as a “radical centrist”, and has asked many Republicans to support him. But, upon further inspection of his record, Warner has never, in his entire life, endorsed a Republican. How can someone ask Republicans to endorse him and put their careers and reputations on the line and, in return, Warner never take that stand himself? Warner has worked very hard of crafting this image, but the reality is that he is a Democrat and will fall in line on many of these issues. Warner has “molded” his image brilliantly, and it’s been as much about pr and packaging (sponsoring NASCAR teams, shutting down the DMV’s one day a week to demonstrate his ‘fiscal restraint’ and justify his tax increase, and w/ the stars aligning for him- his fortunate race against a hyper partisan in Gilmore) as it has been about actual actions.

The Employee Free Choice Act is the crystal clear example of what I’m talking about. Warner has said one thing to labor and another to the business community. No one knows where he actually stands on the issue and Warner wants it that way- taking a stand on it means disappointing either a powerful constituency in his own party (labor) or ruining his credibility with a group of whom he wants to be a champion (the business community). So, he will continue to stay mum on this bill and keep his fingers crossed that the Obama Administration doesn’t push it and that it’s never brought to the floor to be voted on.

Back to McDonnell. If you believe in Warner’s notion of the “radical centrists” then you have to see the need for both Republicans and Democrats elected to statewide office. I don’t think there is any reason why McDonnell can’t be elected and take the same approach that Warner did- try to work across the aisle when possible and not be a firebrand partisan. For the notion of the “radical centrists” to only apply to Democrats runs in the face of what it purports to be all about- bipartisanship and the value of having some measure of divided government. I fear, however, that the “radical centrists” that Warner has introduced is nothing more than a very appealing campaign strategy for Democrats to take in a conservative state. That’s the “mold of Warner”. Appeal to the middle and don’t take controversial stands that will offend centrists or alienate your base to the point where they start giving you trouble.

Blue Dog said...

In other words Alter- Warner is now just like every other politician in Washington. If those are the kind of leaders that Anonymous wants to represent him that fine, but thats not leadership.

The old "if you don't take a stand for something , you will fall for anything"----well Warner is falling all right.

I agree with one aspect; can you say buyers remorse. I want to be proud of the people we send to the Senate and based on the previous post what is there to be proud of in Warner?

That he has an ability to tell both sides of an issue that he is behind them and they believe him I guess represents true selling abilties, but in the final analysis your a salesman not a leader.

Around here we also call someone he behaves in like fashion something a bit more harsh; we call them scoundrels.

Lucks Lane said...

Warner paid attention to all areas of the State as Gov. He did alot for Southside. People like him because is inoffensive.

Webb has a totally different life experince than Warner. I would say he is a straight shooter in more ways than one.

By the way, I saw the TARP application. It is 2 pages. I am going to charter myself as a bank and apply for it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your observation, Luck Lane. Mark Warner tries very hard to be inoffensive. That's the point--- taking a side on the stimulus would offend about 1/2 the state depending on what side you take. So, not taking a position is the most inoffensive thing he can do. Blue Dog- I agree this isn't the kind of leadership that I'd ideally want, but I had a choice between Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner. I chose Warner and, again, am a moderate Democrat so will be much happier with him for six years than I would with Gilmore. And Blue Dog, I suppose you are a Blue Dog Dem, which means you should be upset with most of the Blue Dog leaders in the House who voted for this bill, in addition to Warner (who the Blue Dogs endorsed). I know I would be upset if I were a Blue Dog. The thrust of this post, that the author is suprised by Warner's lack of leadership on a tough issue, is just something that most folks who follow VA politics wouldn't find surprising in the least.

Anonymous said...

So this sets the country up for another President-hopeful in 2016 from the Democrat Party who manages to work the system without really taking any stands or positions on issues while the insiders and pundits tout his grasp of the issues. Thats just great.

I guess we will see in about a year or so just how that theory of leadership is realy worth by evaluating Obama and the impact of the stimulus.

If I were to be betting today on whether this bill was going to be effective or not the way it is currently formed I would be betting that in 2010 quite a few of those House Democrats, especially here in Virginia, are tossed out. Afterall, even those still inlcined to give Obama a pass probably will not be as forgiving in States like Virginia at the polls in 2010.

John said...

We absolutely want and need our leaders to take stands on issues, otherwise what does it matter who we send to Washington if they are simply going to be told how to vote by the caucus.

Warner, whom I voted for, is not delivering on what he promised Virginians nor on his message at the Democrat Convention in Denver.

I suggest people read that speech and that make determinations as to whether he is applying the standard to himself.

John said...

We absolutely want and need our leaders to take stands on issues, otherwise what does it matter who we send to Washington if they are simply going to be told how to vote by the caucus.

Warner, whom I voted for, is not delivering on what he promised Virginians nor on his message at the Democrat Convention in Denver.

I suggest people read that speech and that make determinations as to whether he is applying the standard to himself.