great Dorothy Parker said
writing is easy.[i]
You just sit at a clean sheet of paper until
beads of blood pop out on your forehead. There is blood here, and sweat.
And there is passion.
You will feel the heat of it as you read
when it seems the bloggers will chase the essayists
from the field, the SAT, that bane/boon mother of all college entrance
exams, has added an essay component.
Will Vehrs has a
good piece here on why we’re likely to lose this
is the flip-side of Frosty Landon’s love-hate relationship with this monster called
book came together like one of those
spur-of-the-moment cookouts that begin in casual
conversation and in twenty minutes turns into three
hundred caterwauling people in your backyard.
There are names here you will recognize and,
perhaps, some not so familiar.
Be sure to look up Joe Bageant’s post from Burt’s
Westside Tavern. He makes even good writers want to quit the
trade and take up bricklaying.
is an invisible art—to writing what blackberry
brandy was to the pound cakes my grandmother made at
spoonful or two drizzled along the outer edge
didn’t change the nature or the being of the cake,
and certainly not the meaning, but it did raise it
to something exquisite and sharp and wonderful.
This project benefited from the enormous
talent and hard, hard work of Becky Dale, a gifted
express gratitude to Larry Sabato and his
staff at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics; to Bill Wood, director of the Sorensen Institute for Political
Leadership at the
of Virginia; and to Bob O’Neil, director of the
for Free Expression at the
lashed the horses of encouragement.
thanks to Barbara Regen, a discerning reader-with-a-pencil. There is not a better eye, nor better
reader’s ear, in all of Virginia.
friends Chip Woodrum and Jay
DeBoer acted as
a sounding board start to finish. Consider suicide before challenging them on
Marianne Raymond, at Brunswick Books, the dump-truck load of material distilled here
would, no-doubt, still be in the truck, and maybe
headed for the dump.
a book like this? I don’t have a good answer for that, except
throwers need books, too.
As columnists, as commentators, we throw
words now, but I promise you not one of us, as
children, could pass a hornet’s nest without
throwing something at it.
It’s the way God made us.
Bricks were always my favorite.
A brick-throwing habit acquired early is a
hard thing to break.
early curiosity I developed for politics
began—like so many interests did for me—with
has a rich and varied print media and most of the
material gathered here originally appeared in one or
more of the state’s great
am grateful to all of them for the reprint
permissions they granted this project.
organization, or seeming lack thereof, found here,
is entirely subjective, hostage to the same set of
bias filters that governed which submissions made
the inclusion cut and which did not.
In two words: I decided. And, of course, I must—and do—take the
blame for any blunders.
The date of first publication appears at the
top right corner of each piece; the holder of the
copyright appears at the end.
All are used here with the generous
permission of their owners.
We have included an extensive index and a
not-quite-so-extensive series of end notes.
most days, I would instantly plead guilty to any
charge of partisanship—and to a whole range of
assorted lesser crimes—but not on this project.
On this project, I am certain that even an
would acquit me. I have done my best to make this work as
balanced as can be—with one exception.
I have not given proper credit to the good
folks who actually make government meaningful to us,
who make it run. Of course I mean the state employees.
They number about a hundred thousand.
If I wore a hat, I’d take it off and tip it
to each and every one of them.
brings me to a thing you must know about the
contributors, the talented folks who wrote this
book: It is theirs and theirs alone.
They have done this work
They have popped these beads of blood for
admire them all and thank every one of them.
My step has a little higher spring when I am
in their company.
I forget, there is hidden in this book a few
encrypted trivia questions.
Let’s call it “The DeBoer
All have the commonality of Virginia
first question is this: Czq oyled mmzc D. Dpwclsn yt “D” pse dpzo
are clues to The DeBoer Code:
Leonardo was known for
is significant. Play it, or count it, forward.
It’s all in a name.
Of course, the answer to this one is “Wleetad.”
You have the first one now.
All you have to do is translate the answer
for all the others.
If you break this code, if, per chance, you
should divine the answers to these questions, send
me a note. I
will add your name to the list of bright, bright
people I know.
are things here that will make you laugh, and some
that will sadden you.
But politics is like that.
The process is like a river.
It is ceaseless and ever changing—slow,
placid one minute, running with the exhilaration and
recklessness of a colt the next—even as you watch
best one can do, on a good day, is to snap-shot an
instant of it.
you read through this collection, as you examine
this mosaic of snapshots, I hope you might find some
better understanding, some new appreciation for this
crazy, lovely river that is Virginia
politics, and for these good river keepers who watch
it for you.
of Dan, Virginia
[i] Dorothy Parker is best known
for her short stories, though she was also a writer
of film scripts and covered the Spanish Civil War as
a journalist. She was a staffer at Vanity Fair and
The New Yorker. A member of the so-called
"Round Table" at New York's Algonquin
Hotel, she published several short story collections
in the 1920s and 1930s. She is perhaps best
remembered for her story, "Big Blond."