A LEGACY of sound policies, coupled with the proximity of the federal government, has partially protected Virginia from the harsh retrenchments that the recession has forced on many states. Yet the commonwealth faces a daunting crisis in the form of a drastic shortfall in transportation funding, measured in the tens of billions of dollars, that threatens future prosperity. If the current campaign for governor has clarified anything, it is that state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee, has the good sense and political courage to maintain the forward-looking policies of the past while addressing the looming challenge of fixing the state's dangerously inadequate roads. The Republican candidate, former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, offers something different: a blizzard of bogus, unworkable, chimerical proposals, repackaged as new ideas, that crumble on contact with reality. They would do little if anything to build a better transportation system.There are many on the right who think the editorial board's endorsement simply confirms the Washington Post's "left wing bias."
There are plenty of reasons why Mr. Deeds is the better choice for governor in the Nov. 3 election. He has stood with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the incumbent, and his predecessor, now-Sen. Mark R. Warner, in support of the sane fiscal and budgetary choices that have made the state one of the best-governed and most business-friendly in the nation. Mr. McDonnell has generally spurned those policies, most notably by opposing Mr. Warner's landmark tax package in 2004, which attracted bipartisan support as it boosted public safety and education and protected the state's finances. Mr. Deeds has compiled a moderate record on divisive social issues that reflects Virginia's status as a centrist swing state. Mr. McDonnell has staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing, fighting a culture war that seized his imagination as a law student in the Reagan era.
But ask a progressive and he will say nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, we see the Washington Post as solidly centrist, pro-business, often anti-union, and enthusiastic advocates of free trade and globalism policies. But despite the progressives' disagreements with the Washington Post, we have to acknowledge that they have little patience for culture wars that divide people and distract the population from solving the real problems that face us.
The Washington Post, however, acknowledged candidate Bob McDonnell's strong suit: his disciplined campaign, which managed to stay on message; his likable personality, which often displayed graciousness; and his quick wit, which served him well in debates.
As for Mr. McDonnell, he deserves credit for having run a disciplined, focused, policy-oriented campaign. As a candidate, a statewide official and a lawmaker, he has maintained a civil, personable manner. His intellectual agility, even temper and facility with the grit of policy have inspired the respect of colleagues, staffers and rivals. He is a dexterous politician.Nevertheless, Virginia needs and deserves more than a "dexterous politician" who will remake his image at the drop of the hat and say anything to get elected. We need somebody with the political courage to tell us the truth about what we will need to do to fix our traffic mess, grow the economy, and bring jobs to our commonwealth. Here is the Washington Post's study in contrast on the two candidates. First, here is what they said about Bob McDonnell:
Our differences with him are on questions of policy. The clamor surrounding his graduate dissertation from 1989, in which he disparaged working women, homosexuals, "fornicators" and others of whom he disapproved, has tended to obscure rather than illuminate fair questions about the sort of governor he would make. Based on his 14-year record as a lawmaker -- a record dominated by his focus on incendiary wedge issues -- we worry that Mr. McDonnell's Virginia would be one where abortion rights would be curtailed; where homosexuals would be treated as second-class citizens; where information about birth control would be hidden; and where the line between church and state could get awfully porous. That is a prescription for yesterday's Virginia, not tomorrow's.Here, meanwhile, is how they portray Deeds
Mr. Deeds has been broadly criticized, not least by stalwarts of his own party, for putting too heavy an emphasis on negative ads about Mr. McDonnell and failing to make an affirmative case for himself. If so, it reflects a failure of campaign strategy and tactics, not a lack of raw material. In fact Mr. Deeds -- a decent, unusually self-effacing man who calls himself "a nobody from nowhere" -- has a compelling life story and an admirable record of achievement as a legislator from rural Bath County.And finally, as the Washington Post reminds us
As we noted in endorsing Mr. Deeds in June's Democratic primary, his record in the legislature ably blended the conservative interests of his constituents with an agenda reflecting the prosperous, politically moderate face of modern-day Virginia. He has been a longtime champion of a more enlightened, bipartisan system of drawing voting districts, a stance to which Mr. McDonnell only recently gravitated. He has played a constructive role in economic development by shaping the Governor's Economic Opportunity Fund, which provides incentives for investors in Virginia, and he has stood for responsible environmental policies, including green jobs and alternative energy research. Despite his rural roots, Mr. Deeds has been ideologically flexible enough to support abortion rights; press for background checks on firearms buyers at gun shows; oppose displaying the Confederate flag on state license plates; and warm to equal rights for homosexuals.
Mr. Deeds, lagging in the polls, lacks Mr. McDonnell's knack for crisp articulation. But if he has not always been the most adroit advocate for astute policies, that is preferable to Mr. McDonnell's silver-tongued embrace of ideas that would mire Virginia in a traffic-clogged, backward-looking past. Virginians should not confuse Mr. McDonnell's adept oratory for wisdom, nor Mr. Deeds's plain speech for indirection. In fact, it is Mr. Deeds whose ideas hold the promise of a prosperous future.And that is exactly why you should vote for Creigh Deeds.
If you want to go back to the past and fight the same old culture wars and watch the same old Republican anti-regulatory policies fail again, then by all means vote for the GOP again. But if you want to move forward, grow a prosperous economy, and live in a state that promotes tolerance and moderation, then by all means vote for Creigh Deeds on November 3.