I usually try to get back to the Commonwealth once a year. I’ve lived for the past 30 years in the same part of England to which two other Virginia women, Pocahontas (my kinswoman) and Nancy Astor, were condemned; and so I feel that if I don’t wiggle my toes in some Old Dominion dirt at least once a year, I’ll be pushing up daisies in Brit dirt along with Mrs Rolfe and Lady Astor.

But in 2009, I came home twice, the second time,expressly to vote in the state gubernatorial election. Not that my vote did any good – I voted for Creagh Deeds: nice man, weak candidate.

Virginians have a particularly mad habit of saying one thing and doing another (which drives my English husband around the bend). The real Democratic candidate in 2009should have been Terry McAuliffe, a clintonista, but a Democrat, nonetheless. However, Virginians balked at a Carpetbagger running for the state’s highest office. So what did they do?

They elected a Carpetbagger … and a Republican.

But this wasn’t just any old Carpetbagger … Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Reconstruction, for the certain dynamics in the South, would have been heaven on a plate if all the occupying Yankees had been like Lil’Bob McDonnell!

First, he wrote a doctoral thesis, basically saying women should be barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen and submissive to their husband. Lil’Bob tried to brush this away as a youthful indiscretion, but fact was, when he wrote this (for his post-graduate degree at the religious playschool known as Regent University), he was already a married man with a wife (maybe not barefoot, but certainly in the kitchen and pregnant a lot) and in his mid-thirties.

When does “youthful” cease to be “youthful?”

Then, there was this little matter which unfurled during the McDonnell campaign (and at a gun booth as well!)

And then, after all was said and done, one of the first things Lil’Bob did as governor wasto insert one cultural foot into his mouth and shove.

Look, we don’t need any kind of reminder that the Civil War – that’s right, I said the Civil War, not the War Between the States or even the War of Northern Aggression – happened. Hell, we’re Southern; as Faulkner says, in the South, the past isn’t even past. But, Lordy, someone should have told Lil’Bob that the Civil War ended in 1865. We lost. Get over it. (And, pssst! The war was all about slavery.)

But, you see, Lil’Bob should be all over that shit. Because he won. To the victor, the spoils, and all that.

Our problem is that we got a Carpetbagger of the Chris Matthews variety, from Chris’s same area nad neighbourhood around Philadelphia. You know, the spittle-flecked type. The sorts who “forget” a black person is black if he or she is the right kind of black person. For Chris Matthews, that’s Barack Obama; for Lil’Bob, that’s Sheila Johnson of BET.

Lately, Lil’Bob’s latest trick is coyly sponsoring draft legislation which heavily regulate the Commonwealth’s abortion clinics.

Anti-abortion advocates have been pushing for two decades to impose new regulations that would treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgery centers and require that they meet hospital-type regulations. They say such rules will make Virginia clinics safer for women because they will no longer be treated like doctor’s offices.

The regulations require the same strict physical requirements as outpatient surgical centers that would be doing complex and invasive surgery, abortion rights activists said. The new requirements are based on dozens of pages of guidelines for health-care facilities published by the Facility Guidelines Institute, a nonprofit group.

(Pssst again! For “nonprofit group,” read “conservative family values.”)

Now, I certainly didn’t vote for Lil’Bob McDonnell, whom many people in the Republican party and the media are now touting as possible Vice Presidential material; but I can easily see how some people in the media, who didn’t know any better, might lump Lil’Bob in with all the other raving lunatice fundamentalist Pentecostal types who charm snakes, speak in tongues and believe we are in End Times – people like Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry.

In fact, Joan Walsh is going into meltdown on Rick Perlstein’s Facebook wall about Jimmy Carter, trying to curry favour with Perlstein by lumping what these myopic media elitist wannabes perceive to be Carter’s conservatism, likening it to his Baptist religion – Southern, protestant and fundamentalist. Walsh even concludes that a good enough reason for Carter hatred is the fact that Michele Bachmann formerly supported him in another life.

(Well, Joan’s gal, Hillary Clinton, started out a Goldwater babe, and once upon a time Rick Perry was not only Al Gore’s BFF, but his campaign manager, so do we hate these people too?)

I’m sure Joan would like to lump Lil’Bob into that pejorative pack of Dominionists too, except that she can’t because he’s not.

Lil’Bob belongs to Joan Walsh’s ethnic and religious dynamic. Begorrah! He’s an Irish Catholic lad from a working class neighbourhood in Philadelphia. Like Joan. Like Tweety.

Recently, Lil’Bob addressed the graduating class at my alma mater, the University of Virginia. It brought back memories of when I took my degree there. That was in 1976, the bicentenniel year. A Republican was in the White House. Jimmy Carter was running for President. The governor was Mills Godwin, who was elected as a Democrat, but who converted to the GOP halfway through his tenure. I remember when he was introduced, my mother told me the audience had to stand, and they did. All except my father, who remained in his seat, with his right hand raised and clenched in a fist, except of the stiff middle finger.

But that was then, and this is now. McDonnell gave the graduating class some timeworn, if not trite advice, which, upon reading this, seems adverse to his Republican principles:-

Follow the Golden Rule. Do unto others, as you’d have them do unto you. Help and serve your neighbor. Be kind and generous to others. Take responsibility for others, and make no excuses. Give back to your community generously. Live today well. Do not worry about tomorrow … Always vote …


That sounds positively Democratic. In fact, it sounds liberal to the point of socialistic. So socialistic, that I almost wonder if Lil’Bob meant, at the end, that these kids should just vote, as in “just do it,” or that they should vote for the GOP?

Who knows? This is the enigma about Bob McDonnell. His policies stink, but he’s never been anything less than respectful to the President – moreso than a lot of politicos and pundits from our blue side of the fence. He dismissed birtherism as nonsense and said people should focus on the President’s policies and not his character. He’s taken government money and publically thanked the President for any help and aid offered the Commonwealth.

Do I want to see McDonnell out of the Statehouse? Yes. I’m bloody glad he’s only got one term, and I’m counting the days. Do I want to see him out of politics? Goes without saying. And I certainly don’t want to see him on a GOP ticket in 2012 or even heading one in 2016; but Bob McDonnell is what happens to a state when people can’t be assed to go to the polls and vote, for whatever reason.

However, I have to say that Virginia could have come off worse in this situation. At the end of the day, Bob McDonnell is no Scott Walker.

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KQµårk 死神ADONAIDorothy RissmanEmerald1943 Recent comment authors
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This is what happens when you vote or not.

Voting is not a magical cure all. Getting huge numbers of voters out to the polls doesn’t mean you are gonna get what you want.

He got 58% of the vote. And you’re blaming non voters? Were they ALL gonna vote against him?

I don’t want to get back in to the whole ‘voting versus not voting’ deal, but you can’t assume every missed vote would have went your way. Maybe he would have won by a greater margin.

Perhaps the Democratic Party in Virginia should look at themselves and not the voters.

KQµårk 死神

Repubs the last 30 years voted far more consistently than Dems that’s why they get more consistently what they want.

It’s not just one office or election. If the vast majority of people who could vote voted, there would be no doubt they would get candidates who work for them more. That’s the way mandates work.

Isolating one election, one office or one state is ignoring the more important big picture.


Why do the vast majority of people not vote? Could it be because they have no candidate who “works for them”?

It’s easy to mock that viewpoint if you believe Democrats are the automatic answer to all our problems.

All I said was maybe the Democratic Party in Virginia should look at themselves before blaming voters. Not that they are.

Either the people are uninspired or they’re worthless. And if those voters don;t share your view of the “big picture”?

Are they fools? Detriments to the republic? And how can anyone be sure that record turnouts will go their way?

Record turnouts in the last Presidential race. Got us a Democrat. Record turnouts in the last Congressional race. Got us a Republican House.

Few people think “how dare you not vote.” They most often think, “How dare you not vote for my guy.” No one gets out the vote for the opposition.

But, like I said, I really don’t want to get into the whole voting versus not voting thing. I am thoroughly outnumbered on that subject and have no will to defend it further.

KQµårk 死神

I’m not going to go back and forth with you either. It’s ultimately the voters who can decide who their candidates are, look at the tea party and the GOP. Progressive could have ran more primary challenges just like the tea party did if they were so unhappy. On the left voters just become apathetic way too quick and then wonder why we don’t have more progressive politicians in office.

But no progressives were so freakin’ apathetic they let progressive favorites like Grayson, Sestak and Feingold lose. How does that make any sense in the world?


I totally agree with that KQ. Don’t think I leave the voters without blame. I don’t want to give that impression, which I may well have.

If Progressives want more Progressive candidates they have to fight for them. I think that is where I come halfway. You can’t wait for the candidates to come all the way to you. You have to meet them there and go with them.

Give yourself something to vote for. But I do still have problems with the way both Parties National Committees run their ships. I’m sure I’m not alone.

And you’re right. That shouldn’t be an excuse but a call to action.

Dorothy Rissman
Dorothy Rissman

Marion, I agree with Emerald. Terrific article. I think you are a terrific writer. I love the dry humor that underlies much of what you are relating.

You are correct when you stated that it could be worse. So much worse!


Marion, good read! McDonnell is certainly not as objectionable as others in your Commonwealth, namely Eric Cantor!

It is interesting that Virginia seems to have a very distinct dividing line in its politics. The southern three-fourths of the state is “red” and the immediate Washington DC area goes “blue”. I think it was Palin in the last presidential election that called voters in the most southern areas of the state as the “real” Americans. I guess they were the ones responsible for McDonnell’s victory.

I’m just musing this morning, but I wonder how kindly the voters in Virginia will take to Eric Cantor’s comments regarding FEMA assistance in the wake of hurricane Irene. Nothing would please me more than to see this putz defeated in the next election! In contrast to Gov. McDonnell, Cantor has embarrassed himself by holding the hard line about aid to the state, insisting that more budget cuts must be implemented to offset FEMA emergency funds! This is certainly NOT a popular point of view, except for the most fanatical of the teabaggers. While many Americans recognize the need for fiscal responsibility, we do NOT advocate withholding emergency funding while we “try to find the money” as Cantor has suggested. I personally hope that he shot himself in the foot with this one!

Thanks again for a good article!