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The headline in Thursday's edition of the Washington Post says it all: Kilgore Letter Concedes Vital Fight For Bush In Va.
Kilgore is the presumed Republican nominee for Governor in 2005, the former secretary of public safety under George Allen, the current attorney general and the chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Virginia. For weeks, Kilgore has been publicly dismissing Virginia's shift to battleground status. In fact, that was a central part of his message to Virginia's GOP delegation to New York City. It has always been clear that Republicans hope Democrats and common-sense independents would buy the bravado and give up before the fight even started.
Not this year. Not in Virginia.
Imagine how surprising it is to now read Kilgore's screed to Virginia Republicans, a letter filled with invective but that nevertheless states what Democrats in Virginia have been saying all along: "Polls show John Kerry is within striking distance in Virginia."
All joking about flip flops aside, Kilgore's letter raises a serious question: Which Kilgore should Virginians believe? The one who made public statements denying Virginia's battleground position--or the one who made statements to his own party faithful that show just how worried the GOP has become about their chances in Virginia? Jerry Kilgore is the face of George Bush and Dick Cheney in Virginia. Is it any surprise that we now ask ourselves: What should we believe? That when it comes to Kilgore, what can we believe?
The buzz from New York and the Republican National Convention is all about Morton Blackwell. This political operative from Virginia is behind the hot prize on the floor of the convention--purple heart covered bandages intended to ridicule John Kerry's service in Vietnam.
Blackwell's ingeniousness is featured in this story on CNN, which laughably describes Blackwell's conservative training "institute" as "non-partisan."
Virginia Republicans have long been familiar with Blackwell's Donald Segretti-like tactics. (He was the architect of Newt Gingrich's 'Contract On America.') The fact that Blackwell himself has never served his country seems to have escaped the attention of the media and the delegates in New York who are so crassly displaying the bandages. One has to wonder whether the chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Virginia, Jerry Kilgore, approves of the open mocking of the servicemen and women of this country.
This statement from Bill Pittman, Commander, Arlington Memorial Chapter Military Order of the Purple Heart, says it all:
"As a combat disabled Vietnam veteran who received the Purple Heart medal after serving with Marine Infantry units in Vietnam--and saw brave men die--I am outraged and deeply offended that the President of the United States would permit his Republican National Convention surrogates to dishonor the Purple Heart medal award. The tens of thousands of men and women killed in combat in Vietnam and all those who died in combat in Iraq who have earned Purple Hearts should not have the status of this award diminished."
From the DNC daily convention dispatches:
New York City - Two days ago, the DNC Convention Response Team caught Bush-Cheney delegates mocking our troops by wearing purple heart band-aids on the floor of the Republican convention. The band-aids were worn by delegates all over the floor and were distributed by Karl Rove's close friend, Morton Blackwell.
The mocking of this sacred symbol--granted only to those soldiers who are wounded in action in defense of our country--was decried by everyone from the Military Order of the Purple Heart to...Fox News. Yes...Fox News.
"[The purple heart band-aids, that]...absolutely was disgraceful. Whatever you think about the controversy regarding the swift boats, that's uncalled for." [Fox & Friends, 9/1/04]
One example of the Republican Party of Virginia's latest distortion of the facts involves advertising in Virginia. GOP chairwoman Kate Griffin would love nothing more than to have people believe John Kerry isn't serious about winning Virginia. Why else would she say something like this: "Virginians support the Republican vision for our country and it is clear even the Kerry campaign has gotten the message because they have now abruptly pulled their television advertising in our state?"
That's a statement that flies in the face of the facts. In fact, Virginia is one of the states targeted for the Democratic National Committee's aggressive new media push on behalf of John Kerry.
Distortions, lies, half-truths. And Jerry Kilgore says these folks "deserve" to be re-elected?
I've just been going through emails that came in while I was in Boston last week. I have been curious about what the Virginia Republicans were saying about Democrats during the national convention cycle, and what I've been reading today proves my theory that, when it comes to the GOP spinners in Virginia, it pays to have the lowest possible expectations.
The attack on Tim Kaine: A sarcasm-laden news release that includes a photo of the lieutenant governor and headline, "Have you seen this man?"
The attack on Governor Warner: RPV Chairwoman Kate Griffin refers to the Governor as a "high-tax liberal."
The attack on John Kerry: Griffin refers to Kerry as the "single most liberal member" of the U.S. Senate. Dick Black, the radical right-wing delegate, joined in with the Kerry-bashing-fest by issuing a press release that questioned John Kerry's morals and values. Not surprising, from a guy who handed out plastic fetus-shaped figures during the 2003 General Assembly.
Liberal. Liberal. Liberal.
Is that it? Is that the sum total of the Republican Party of Virginia's argument in favor of the re-election of George Bush as president of the United States?
Today's attack: From the Invisible Man, Jerry Kilgore. The attorney general and presumed candidate for Governor in 2005 has time to attack John Kerry and yet say virtually nothing positive about his own candidate for president, other than that he "deserves" to be re-elected.
That sense of entitlement to power is fuel for the anger so many people feel about this administration. One has to wonder if there will ever come a day when Republicans in Virginia can speak in a positive way about their own candidates rather than simply resorting to sarcasm, lowest-common-denominator and negative attacks that only diminish themselves and feed on the cynicism of the average voter.
John Kerry and John Edwards offer a remarkable contrast to the divisiveness and negativity that is spewed at us on a daily basis from Republicans in Virginia--a positive message of hope and optimism, a vision of a stronger America that is respected in the world.