Bye, Bye, Vice President McDonnell

Paul Ryan

It appears that ultrasounds, handgun purchases and helping groups ban gays from becoming adoptive parents are costing Gov. Robert F. McDonnell his dreams of being a Republican vice presidential candidate.

Now that Mitt Romney has 655 electoral votes tied up and looks like a sure thing as far as the GOP nominee, McDonnell has fallen to the wayside. Pundits still opine about who the VP contender could be, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Buckeye politician Bob Portman. A clear favorite of the moment is Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan who is seen as the Dr. Spock of the right-wing’s intellectual set.

But where, oh where, is Bob McDonnell? He’s either off the pundits’ lists or is being increasingly dissed as being potentially too “social conservative.” In that regard, he has his fellow Republicans to thank.

In the last elections, hard right elements took over the House of Delegates and cheered on by such ultra-conservatives as Del. Bob Marshall, launched their attacks on women’s rights, gay rights and immigrant rights as well as handgun safety.

In doing do, they made Virginia a national laughing stock on programs such as Saturday Night Live that did utterly devastating skits in 2008 about Sarah Palin, the completely unprepared and nearly clueless Alaska governor who ran as John McCain’s running mate.

The sad part is that McDonnell had no direct role in this political meltdown, rather his former positions such as his notorious graduate school thesis that he tried so hard to suppress resurfaced again.

Ironically, the politician who has usurped McDonnell is Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, who is cast as a young, dynamic and brainy “Young Gun” who was the mastermind behind the attention-getting 2011 debt ceiling debacle with Virginia’s own Eric Cantor. Such stuffy GOP kingmakers as George Will regard Ryan as a bright young thing: “Admirably, Romney has embraced Ryan’s approach to altering the ruinous trajectory of the entitlement state and forestalling that trajectory presages, a “government-centered society” (Romney’s phrase in his fine Milwaukee speech Tuesday night).

Reading the tea leaves reveals that Ryan is seen as the thought-leader who can push forward the GOP’s more serious agenda of cutting deficits and debt and changing the decade’s old role of the federal. McDonnell, who had tried so hard to remake himself as a moderate and a “jobs” government is now being seen as another pathetic nutbar, who, fairly or not, wants to humiliate women before they have a legal abortion. And, fairly or not, he’s seen, thanks to buddy Marshall, as an anti-immigrant fanatic without the multi-racial appeal of Rubio, another VP contender.

In any event, Bob’s VP days are over. And Barack Obama may actually push ahead with Virginia anyway. Real Clear Politics has him ahead of Romney 48 to 43.1, as incredible as that sounds.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. Nominating Paul Ryan as veep candidate would send a clear message that tackling the structural budget deficit and the national debt is one of Romney’s highest priorities. I would be most heartened if Romney actually did pick Ryan. New campaign slogan: “America needs a little R&R”.

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    Romney is a moderate who might very well adopt an “infrastructure for America” type program. I see no chance of him picking Paul Ryan. Rubio or Chris Christie would be much better chices. Of the two, Rubio is the better choice.

    Romney understands what Virginia’s Republiclowns don’t understand – the bizarre behavior ends when the primary is over. No conservatives will vote for Obama in the general election and, with Obama Derangement Syndrome, they won’t stay home either. It’s all about the voters in the middle and that’s where a guy like Rubio could change the game.

    McDonnell has done a good job as governor. However, as Peter correctly points out, he has been cursed by being among the half-wits in the Republican Party of Virginia.

    However, McDonnell joins the rest of the RPV in having very little practical experience in business and a weak understanding of the economy. How many years did McDonnell actually work for American Hospital Supply? The truth is that he has been a professional politician for much of the last 30 years. How much non-political experience does Ken Cuccinelli have? Bill Bolling is an insurance agent who hasn’t been able to crack into his company’s management team but now wants to manage our state.

    Let’s be honest … the Republicans in Virginia have a LOFT problem …. Lack of Freakin’ Talent. It pervades everything from their inability to comprehend inflation to their bizarre love of gimmicks and jim-cracks.

    McDonnell was the best they had and now he’s headed off into the sunset.

    Meanwhile, we will all be treated to some more comedy:

    1. A US Senate primary featuring George Allen, Jamie Radke and Bob Marshall (along with a few other reactionaries). This should be memorable.

    2. A gubenatorial primary featuring Cuccinelli and Bolling in a “bizarre – off” with each trying to appeal to the lunatic fringe who will decide the Republican candidate for governor.

    All in all this is setting up quite well for NoVa and Tidewater and quite poorly for the entrenched “First Families of Virginia” now living in the White Flight counties near (but not in) the City of Richmond.

    The Democrats in Virginia tend to understand why mass transit is necessary in urban locales, they understand inflation and why transportation funding has to keep up with inflation, they see a reasonable handgun per month purchase limit as sensible. In short, they are oerating at about 40 IQ points above the Republicans in the state.

  3. Mass transit for NoVA is critical. No doubt about it. But Dulles Rail will not improve traffic congestion on most major roads, according to VDOT. The Final EIS, which was prepared by Governor Warner’s administration, shows that traffic on I-66 Eastbound, the Dulles Toll Road Eastbound, Routes 50 and 28 (no direction specified) would be LOS F if nothing were built and will remain at F when the entire rail line to Loudoun County is built. Table 6-2.2. In fact, the Warner administration predicted that, of the roads considered, only the Airport Access Road Eastbound would improve from D to C.
    As I have written many times, Dulles Rail is not about transportation. Moreover, it still is not cost-effective even though the feds agreed to fund it. The Bush administration caved to lobbyists and elected officials from both parties. It’s too late not to finish the rail project, at least to the Airport. But it’s wrong to pretend Dulles Rail makes a big difference in transportation. And I regularly use the Orange Line.

  4. DJRippert Avatar


    You and Jim Bacon crack me up. You both claim that you favor progress yet neither of you seem to ever find a project that you like. Which makes me wonder if you actually have any interest in progress at all.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    They are look too old men watching a biplane from their rocking chairs:

    “Never fly won’t.”

    “Can’t see how it can.”

    “Incredible waste of our money.”

  6. DJR – I was a supporter of rail until I read the EIS and saw we’d be spending billions for no real traffic relief. Then I supported BRT in the corridor. When that went down, I supported opening the rail project to a bid. When that also failed, I now believe we need to finish rail to the Airport; allow Loudoun County to opt in or opt out; get as much money from Richmond as we can; bar mandatory, but permit, voluntary PLAs; take all reasonable actions to increase rail usage to and from Reston and Tysons; impose a substantial surcharge on rail passengers using the Airport station; eliminate the ability for DTR drivers to enter and exit at Route 7 without paying tolls; and keep a close eye on the entire project. But this does not change the fact that the rail line is not cost-effective. If you had taken the project to your company’s investors, you would not have received funding.
    We have a bad situation on our hands and need to make the best of it. That includes being open about the problems.

  7. The mere fact that Bob McDonnell has been a player in the Veepstakes shows how successful he has been. The ultrasound issue may have dinged McDonnell out of the top tier, but he remains a major figure and in the conversation for VP.
    The gloating over his demise is premature. A few months is an eternity in politics.
    Being attacked by liberal zealots is a badge of honor for a Republican.
    Even if he is not the VP, he has a bright future ahead.

    1. DJRippert Avatar


      I agree that McDonnell has potential. However, he in between a rock and a hard place courtesy of Virginia’s one (consecutive) term limit for governor.

      I see him as third in line for the Veepstakes after Rubio and Christie. Rubio is a kid but he brings a demographic that McDonnell doesn’t bring. Christie is actually a stronger leader. He made fewer mistakes during his tenure as governor. However, he may not run unless he is convinced the Republican candidate can win.

      If McDonnell ends up as the VP candidate he will have cast his die. If his tickets wins he will be an historical figure. If it loses, he will have to fall back to a US Senate bid (although I would not see him as an easy winner over Warner).

      If McDonnell does not get selected as the VP nominee the question still arises as to whether the Republicans or Democrats win the election. If the Republicans win there will, no doubt, be a top level position for McDonnell in the new cabinet. However, if Obama is re-elected, McDonnell is out in the cold. He will have missed the very winnable Kaine – Allen contest and will be facing the much less winnable Warner contest (in 2014).

      He is a bright man and has done a pretty good job. He is hampered not by liberal zealots but by the buffoonish behavior of his fellow Republicans in Virginia. As a one term governor, the governor only has so much power over the members of the Clown Show in his own party.

      Virginia – the modern graveyard of promising political careers.

Leave a Reply