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Deeds picks up voters in the polls

Because Virginia is only one of two states in the nation electing their governor this year, it’s not surprising that we’re getting a little national attention.
However, this year this attention will probably be unprecedented. We are in a state that after 44 years of voting for Republicans for president, last year, weighed in with Barack Obama. Both sides, particularly now that the president’s popularity has dimmed a little, are looking at us for validation.
The Republicans desperately want a win in Virginia. If they won the Commonwealth, they could claim that it was a sign that their party was starting a come back.
The Democrats, for their part, have just as much riding on this race. Their prospects in New Jersey, the other state electing a governor this year, don’t look that good and they hope that by winning Virginia, something of a new prize, they could show that they’re holding their ground.

Read more: Deeds picks up voters in the polls

Deeds still can’t find his voice

Virginia, it can be argued, by virtue of having its state elections in off years, diffuses the impact of national politics. This was certainly the case in times past, and as recently as 30 years ago, but in the 21st century, where the buzz of national politics never quite stops it’s not necessarily true anymore. This year’s campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, while by no means national races, are nonetheless profoundly affected by national politics.
This was certainly the case in 2005. That was the year Tim Kaine beat Jerry Kilgore. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and as public frustration with the war in Iraq was growing, the tide of the governor’s race, which had favored the Republicans well into the fall, shifted to Democrat Tim Kaine. GOP fatigue and angst over George Bush gave the Democrat a significant boost. Tim Kaine won handily.
This year, however, is playing out differently. In 2009, it’s Democrat Creigh Deeds who is dealing with the burden of his party being in power in Washington. Of course, sometimes this is an asset. A popular president can always help. But with President Obama generating so much controversy over health care, cap and trade (a big issue in the coal fields), and the deficit, the Obama administration doesn’t offer much in the way of coattails. Virginians, even those who might normally vote Democratic, might, in a statewide election, support a Republican. That’s what Bob McDonnell is hoping will happen.
The McDonnell strategy has been surprisingly simple. He is staying away from the hot button social issues and focusing on the economy, small business, and most importantly, jobs. This is a message that resonates in just about every region of the state. While Virginia’s jobless rate is low by comparison to the rest of the country, it’s still a major source of anxiety. While most people have a job, just about everyone can readily name someone they know who has lost theirs. This, as Harry Truman once quipped, was the classic definition of a recession.

 

Read more: Deeds still can’t find his voice

McDonnell’s thesis is not yet a stumbling point

Every campaign has a stumble. Sometimes they’re game changers and sometimes they’re not. In 2006 George Allen referred to a young man of Indian descent as a “macaca.” As we all found out, that word was not a kind reference. And while this insult seemed like nothing more than a stumble at the time, it quickly took on a life of its own. Many think it was the first step on the road to the senator’s defeat in November. Other stumbles, such President Obama’s association with the inflammatory Reverend Jeremiah Wright can cause a stir, but then quickly fade away.
Creigh Deeds, whose campaign has had serious problems getting started, is hoping that his opponent, Bob McDonnell, might also be having one of those stumbles that won’t go away. What’s happened is that Bob McDonnell’s 1989 master’s thesis from what was then called the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) University (it’s now Regency University) has found its way into the press. Most such documents aren’t that exciting. But McDonnell made his into something of a political agenda. It’s called “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family.” It is well written, coherent and decisive. Hopefully, it got an A. It deserved one. However, a lot of it, particularly for a candidate who has spent the past year trying to define himself as a moderate could put the candidate in an awkward position.

Read more: McDonnell’s thesis is not yet a stumbling point

Busting the U.S. budget

In 1791, during George Washington’s first term in office, our nation’s debt totaled $77 million. In contrast to the numbers that are thrown around so casually today, which are in the billions and trillions, this number seems almost trivial. But in 1791, the debt, most of which was incurred during the American Revolution was no small matter.
For a nation of only 4 million, the amount we owed our creditors was the equivalent of approximately 40 percent of our young nation’s gross domestic product. Fortunately, thanks to the foresight of men like Alexander Hamilton, our first secretary of the treasury, and yes, a few new taxes, the size of the national debt was brought back to more reasonable proportions.
Today, we’re at a similar crossroads. We’re facing a massive debt, and no matter where you stand politically, before long it’s an issue we’re going to have to confront. The numbers are staggering. Starting in the early part of the decade, oddly enough, during a period of Republican dominance in both the Congress and the White House, the federal government nearly doubled the size of the debt.  
In 2000, the national debt was $5.6 trillion. However, by late 2007, it was $9 trillion. Since then it’s kept growing.
President Obama, fearing an economic meltdown, called for an economic stimulus package. He got it, but over the next few years, it’s going to cost more than $700 billion.  Other spending, without much worry about where the money is coming from, has increased dramatically as well. Future plans are likely to make it even worse.

Read more: Busting the U.S. budget

Is the economy recovering?

For most of 2009, the speculation had been that the unemployment rate in the United States would, at some point, reach 10 percent. That would have meant that roughly 15 million Americans would have been out of a job. However, that didn’t happen. Instead, when the July unemployment statistics were reported, unemployment edged down a little. It wasn’t much, just a 0.1 percent reduction, but it was nonetheless a welcomed surprise.

Read more: Is the economy recovering?

The health care debate needs to be about principles

If there is one word that describes the debate over health care in the United States it’s “confusion.”
There are intense passions, all sorts of disinformation, and, sadly, an inability on the part of the advocates for a national health care initiative to define their key principles. Perhaps, if the latter were more strongly emphasized, and some of the misinformation explained and pushed aside, then maybe the debate would be more civil and informed.

Read more: The health care debate needs to be about principles

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