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Cross-posted at Blue Virginia

The most searing lesson of President Obama's electoral slaughter of Mitt Romney just 3 weeks ago is a simple one -- define yourself and your opponent, early, often and effectively.  Both the Obama campaign's characterizations of the president as a progressive fighter for the middle class and of Romney as an out-of-touch gazillionaire elitist fit like a glove and worked.  

This lesson resonated over the past week as the national press and blogosphere suddenly discovered that Virginia has a governor's race this year, and it's going to be a doozy.  Predictably, and happily, much of the coverage focused on the facts that: 1) Repub AG Ken Cuccinelli is an ultra-extremist crackpot and 2) Repub LG Bill Bolling is awfully pissed at the way that Cuccinelli stole the crown from his coronation, and just may scheme to get back at him with an independent campaign.  

The other piece of the coverage and discussion, though, has been a surprisingly negative first impression of Terry McAuliffe -- the presumptive Democratic nominee (unless awesome former US Rep. Tom Perriello jumps in the race).  The WaPo showed its "balance" by framing the race as one between hyper-partisans on both sides -- this despite McAuliffe's lifelong reputation as a moderate businessman, whose ties to Bill Clinton could only be interpreted as "radical" by the tea party crowd.  

Meanwhile, a number of progressive commenters on blogs and the WaPo comments section demonstrated their nervousness about whether McAuliffe could actually beat the scariest candidate for governor we've ever seen in Virginia.  Many seemed to define T-Mac as a Beltway insider type just not ready to pound the cobblestones of ol' Virginny.  

That actually was my impression of Terry four years ago when he tried to make the jump from Washington power broker to Virginia gubernatorial candidate without having taken the time to prepare the voters or himself for that leap.  In the four years since, however, I have watched him do the hard work of hitting pretty much every local Virginia Democratic campaign event and fundraiser he could find.  If there's a Democratic dogcatcher from Albemarle to Warrenton that he hasn't met yet, I'd be surprised.  He has shown by burning all that shoe leather that he is not some fly-by-night dilettante but a candidate willing to listen, learn, do what it takes, and entrench himself in the state.

Meeting and endearing himself to Democratic activists and candidates statewide, however, was only step one, a foundation to build on.  Now he has to introduce himself to the vast majority of voters, who according to the polls, have no clue who he is.

Considering this, it was not a good sign that the McAuliffe campaign chose this week, as the race erupted into national view, to stay stone silent.  It's time for them to define their candidate -- before he is defined in the worst terms by others -- and they have no time to waste.  

Terry does not start out with a particularly positive public image, but I believe that he can turn that around if he and his campaign make a concerted effort to do so.  For him to become our vehicle to beat the wretched Cuccinelli will require directly confronting -- not sweeping under the rug -- several major challenges to his image.  These include:

1) The millionaire challenge -- yes, America just rejected another rich businessman for the highest office in the land, making this a not very good time to have anything in common with the Mittster.  Beyond the basic image question is the example that Romney's long business career created a record that was used so effectively against him -- from offshoring jobs to evading taxes.  

I actually think this challenge can be beaten down and even turned into an advantage by a skillful campaign, for three reasons.  First, Romney's problem was NOT that he was a businessman, but that his business and political career were both focused on the transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%.  So many of his actions and his policies on taxes, regulation, the budget, etc., reinforced the same message, it was not all that difficult for his opponent to connect the dots and drive the point home.  

Terry, by contrast, can run on being the anti-Romney: the progressive businessman who   respects the limits of the marketplace and the value of government.  He will need to weave this narrative carefully in order to motivate Democrats, who definitely don't want a Romney type at the top of the ticket, to go to the polls.  Still, in purple Virginia, it is not a bad thing to have a candidate with extensive private sector knowledge and experience, particularly if he articulates how he sees bringing the right lessons from the business community to government.

The second reason this should not be a serious disadvantage is that it is hard to see how Cuccinelli, who attacks the very idea of government regulating business over environmental, health or any other factors, could credibly attack McAuliffe on this issue, without confusing his tea party supporters and the corporate moguls lined up to write checks to him.

The third reason that this doesn't have to be a major barrier could be summed up in 2 words: Mark Warner

2) The Virginian challenge -- Curiously, one word I noticed crop up frequently in on-line comments about McAuliffe was "carpet bagger."  Perhaps it's not enough to point out that Terry has actually lived in Virginia over 20 years, since the paved-in-gold streets of McLean are not everyone's vision of the "real Virginia."  Nor is it enough to point out how many major state candidates these days are from somewhere else.  (Like: Ken Cuccinelli, NJ; George Allen, CA; Tim Kaine, MN; Mark Warner, IN; Bob McDonnell, PA -- need I freakin' go on here?)

In fact, this is more a question of style than actual fact.  I'm not going to encourage Terry to take the embarrassing Mark Warner route of sponsoring NASCAR teams.  But there is a certain pose that candidates in the Commonwealth are expected to strike.  

Call it the myth of the Virginia Gentleman.  The Virginia Gentleman is expected to be somehow above politics (think Monticello or Mount Vernon) and yet a man of the people; comfortable whether hunting foxes in the highlands or squirrels in the lowlands; always willing to take the principled stand (think John Warner refusing to support Oliver North) but also skillful in playing politics behind closed doors; likable but somehow distant, as if already chiseled into stone before his time. (Sorry, ladies, for all this gender-biased language, but this archetype may explain why we've had so few female leaders in the state.)

Rather than trying to explain it, I would simply suggest studying video, pictures and the career of John Warner, who made himself into the ultimate Virginia political archetype.

The same John Warner who, by the way, was born in...Washington, DC.

3) The seriousness challenge -- we come now to the most intangible yet perhaps most serious of Terry's image issues.  His problem is not likability, as he comes across pleasantly both on the stage and in person.  He has an infectious, almost child-like joie de vivre that makes it easy to see why he's been so successful in getting rich donors to part with gobs of their money.  What he does not convey as well, however, is the kind of seriousness of purpose that we expect from our leaders.  

Somehow, his goofy smile and less-than-crisp presentation and that lingering suspicion that he's just a rich guy leaving the boredom of Washington, DC on a lark to find a new kingdom to conquer -- all combine to raise doubts about whether he's got the right stuff both to beat the Kook and govern the state well for 4 years afterwards.  

To be fair, many politicians convey seriousness when they don't actually have any, and many people who deserve to be taken seriously aren't just because of how they come across.  Well, we still have to deal with the parts of life that suck.  And yes, like it or not, politicians do need to reinvent themselves from time to time.  

To beat this challenge, Terry will have to refine his manner a bit in public.  It may mean smiling less, avoiding over-talking, listening well and respectfully, studying Virginia's issues furiously and having a crisp answer ready to go on each of them.  Terry's buddy Hillary Clinton actually gave one of the most masterful demonstrations of how to manage such a transition when she made the leap from First Lady to junior US Senator.  She showed both the discipline and the humility to learn from others, essential qualities to display when one is trying to make a good impression as the new kid on the block.

Terry of course must be ready to hit home runs when asked the most basic questions demanded of any candidate, like: Why are you running?  What are your top priorities for the state?  How will your experiences in life help you accomplish these goals?  All these answers must weave together into a theme, a story, an image that makes the voters feel clear and reassured about who this guy really is.  

Defining Ken Cuccinelli will be easy since he has a long record of extremism to tap into -- no exaggeration necessary!  And the fact that so many Virginians have barely a clue who Terry is presents the advantage of a relatively clean slate.  But of course that can be a curse too if others grab the chalk first and make indelible impressions.  And we all know how talented the GOP is at the fine art of mudslinging.  

T-Mac and his campaign need to build on the goodwill they have established among Democrats statewide, get their story in shape and start introducing him to the public in a big way -- ASAP.

Originally posted to kindler on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:04 PM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four.  If that is granted, all else follows. -- George Orwell, 1984. Now on Twitter.

    by kindler on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:04:19 PM PST

  •  All sounds good (9+ / 0-)

    But it is Terry the best VA can do? Yes, he's 1000x better than What's-a-Kookie but I personally find him kind of repugnant (don't live in VA though)

    Comes off as
    - Smug
    - Blue dog
    - Third way / Lieberman type
    - Horrible campaigner
    - Not overly smart

    Maybe these things are all wrong. But that is the impression I currently have of Terry M

  •  I am not the biggest McAuliffe fan (6+ / 0-)

    But this diary made me think maybe I should give him another look.

    For the record, my opposition to him is not because he was a Hillary supporter in 2008. I would like to think that the party has moved past that kind of division. I just wasn't wild about the idea of a governor who had been a party chairman, since he had spent so many years raising money from corporate donors that I felt he might be too beholden.

    That said, Cucinelli is nuts and McAuliffe is priobably the strongest candidate, unless Senator Webb could somehow be persuaded to run. So I appreciate your posting this diary, and I agree that it's important to help define McAuliffe in a positive way.

  •  I appreciate this diary (10+ / 0-)

    I am reflexively anti-MCauliffe, but this is a good intro.

    •  As a Virginian ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kindler, JamieG from Md

      I was 'convinced' to support Creigh Deeds -- barely -- in the 2009 primary.  Looking back, I have a reasonably high confidence that this was a mistake.  McAuliffe would have been a serious and strong campaigner.  Whether he would have beaten McDonnell isn't something that I'd assert, but I have some confidence that the 'down ticket' wouldn't have suffered as badly with Terry at the top of the ticket.  

      I've taken more of a look at Terry, from a far, in the intervening time period and have developed a respect for him such that I will be able to support him without a 'well, he's better than the other guy, sigh' feeling -- I will be able to support him as someone who likely will do well as Governor even if I won't always agree with him.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:38:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  nice/try (0+ / 0-)

    consider these terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout famine, acceptance of nature

    by renzo capetti on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:32:16 PM PST

  •  He's certainly far better than the Cooch (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill, MadGeorgiaDem

    but wow, I would love it if Perriello would run. He was such a great Rep. So sad that we had him for only 2 short years. So many fools in this 5th District...

  •  If Perriello runs . . . (6+ / 0-)

    he'll have my vote and support in the primary.  If he doesn't I still will be supportive of McAuliffe.  I give McAuliffe credit for the work that he has done in the past 4 years building relationships within the state.  He's also a tireless campaigner and worker.  

    This cycle should be more favorable to the Dems than 2009.  Cuccinelli's presence on the ballot does 50 percent of the work for the Democratic side.   A competitive primary on the Dem side might create some problems, although I think that the party will come together in the general election.  It is hard to understate Cuccinelli's impact on the Dem side.  It'll be much easier to unify the base, motivate people to show up and vote, and unlike McDonnell who is a conservative with a talent for moderating his public image, Cuccinelli will have a much harder time concealing his motives and far-right views.  He'll motivate the GOP base too, but I suspect he'll have a harder time winning independents.

    •  So you would vote for an individual (0+ / 0-)

      that has served one term in Congress and that is it!
      Perirello has no money, no infrastructure, no name recognition, nothing.

      He is a great guy but doesn't have a snow balls hell in chance to win a state wide race in Virginia.

      Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

      by totallynext on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:27:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes . . . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        charliehall2, A Siegel, semiot

        with respect to limited experience in elected office.  

        The rest is bullshit.

        McAuliffe raised, what $8 million, in 2009?  At least $6 milion spent.  He got 15 percent in a place like Arlington.  He was under 30 percent almost everywhere else.   It's not like Deeds and Brian Moran are titans of Virginia state politics either.  It's not like voters don't know who McAuliffe is either -- especially not in Northern Virginia where a lot of Dems are also tied into national politics.  

        I give McAuliffe credit for getting back up on his feet and giving it another go, but give me a break.

        I would also turn this around: When was the last time that McAuliffe won election for ANY position in Virginia?  When did any of his candidates win Virginia?

        Perriello won in a tough district against a fairly popular incumbent in 2008.  In a strongly anti-Dem climate he came extremely close to winning a second term in the same district in 2010.  This is a top level candidate who will have absolutely no problem connecting with Virginia Democrats.  

        If McAuliffe wins its going to be because he makes a strong argument for his own candidacy, not because he relies on some bullshit electability crutch -- something that doesn't exactly bolster HIS candidacy.

        If Perriello runs the money and organization will follow.  He won't raise as much as McAuliffe, but he won't need as much either in order to win a statewide party primary.  

      •  What has McAuliffe been elected to? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Perriello for Governor, McAuliffe for Lt. Governor. After four years in that role, McAuliffe would get a clean shot.

  •  Lt. Gov is also VERY important this year (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks, Kindler, for a very clear and objective presentation of McAuliffe's strengths and weaknesses.  I, too, have been impressed with the lessons he learned from 2009 and his willingness to take concrete action to implement them. Happy to Rec and tip.

    At the risk of a minor hijack, though, let me take this opportunity to raise awareness of a race that is usually the glimmer of an afterthought - that is - the race for Lt. Gov.  

    Usually, the only importance accorded to the Lt. Gov's position is that it is perceived (with some basis in truth) as a stepping stone to the Governor's seat 4 years later.   This year, however, it is critical that Democrats win this one, too.  

    The reason, simply, is the 20-20 split in the State Senate.   The Lt. Governor has the deciding vote.   In 2011, the Republicans took advantage of this to reorganize the Senate as if they had a elected majority.  Consequently, there are Republican majorities and chairs in every committee.  

    So, a victory in the Lt. Gov's race gives us an entire chamber of the legislative branch 2 years before the Senate comes up for election. This would be significant, since we are unlikely to turn the gerrymandered House of Delegates around this year.  

    This means, among other things, that there is room at the top of the "ticket" for two strong Democratic candidates this year. Whatever one may feel about the relative merits of McAuliffe and Perriello (and for the record, I am a BIG fan of Tom's), everyone knows that Terry isn't going to step aside or go down easily. Wouldn't a McAuliffe/Perriello "ticket" be better than a bruising primary?  

    •  Why McAuliffe on top? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pistolSO, NotGeorgeWill

      His only race was the loss to Creigh Deeds in the 2009 primary.  Perriello actually has governing experience.  I'm not at all sure why he'd be the one to step aside.

      Despite that, I never thought that Tom Perriello would run for Gov in 13, rather for AG.  And given his background if he drops I'd rather he ran for AG and we selected someone else for Lt Gov.

      •  How it should be is one thing... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JamieG from Md, A Siegel, Egalitare it would be is another.  My analysis is that McAuliffe will not step aside. He would have to be forced out, and I don't see anyone out there with the combination of strength and willingness to do so, or defeated in a primary.  

        Would a McAuliffe/Perriello primary be good or bad for the Party's chance to win in November?   I can't say.  I could make a case either way.   But, unless there's an intricacy to VA electoral law that I don't know about, the loser would not be able to take any other spot on the ballot this year.  So that would be a loss compared to the scenario I suggested.  

        As for Tom for AG, I am less persuaded by the goodness of fit than I am by the fact that the Lt. Gov position is - in this year, as I noted - more important and my sense that Tom would be a very strong candidate for it.

        By the way, let me also say that I have yet to hear ANY solid information that Tom is actually seriously interested in the Gov's race.   One tweet from Ben Tribbitt does not a campaign make.  It's not even the way that I think that Tom would chose to float a trial balloon.  As for "sources close to..." and "Democratic political operatives..." that could be literally anyone.

        •  It would be horrible.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuco35, A Siegel

          Just like it was in 2009 - six months for the Republicans to be on the trail to the voters and the DEMS are slugging it out for a Primary that does not need to happen.

          This is all Mark Warner - and it is bullshit.  Again -
          Tom is a great guy was a great congressman for two years - but really all of a sudden he should be a contender for Governor in 2013.

          Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

          by totallynext on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:30:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  This sounds right . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          If Perriello runs, McAuliffe won't be deterred.  He is going to have to play against type and stay focused on giving people positive reasons to vote for him.  He can still win, but I would be a little surprised if he did.

          If McAuliffe goes negative like he and Moran did in 2009, McAuliffe will lose once again.

          I don't think a competitive primary will necessarily be bad for Dems aside from the fact that it will burn cash.  It might help in building organization.

    •  Either way (0+ / 0-)

      the names would be organized, this would create a strong ticket.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:40:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let me speak as a Virginian since 1982 (12+ / 0-)

    which also makes me a carpetbagger, and as someone who knows the author of this diary, and all of the major dems mentioned in the piece and in the comments.

    1.  Jim Webb -  is NOT going to run for governor.  He had his reasons not to run again for Senate.  His background and mien were a far better fit as a Senator than as a governor who has to negotiate with a legislature like our General Assembly.

    2.  Tom Perriello is a good friend.  I think it would be a real mistake for him to run against McAuliffe in a primary.  As much as I like Tom, I think he would lose and in the process might destroy Terry's chance of winning the general.  Why do I think he would lose?  Quite frankly, Terry would have pretty much of a lock on the Arrican-American vote.  If you go back to the 2009 gubernatorial primary the only Congressional District Creigh Deeds did NOT win in the 3-way context was the 3rd, Bobby Scott's.  Tom would also be challenged severely on his vote for the Stupak Amendment -  I have heard this multiple times in exchanges with a number of feminists who point out that Terry, who is also Catholic, has never been anything but openly pro-choice.   Although Tom has spent some time helping Dems around the state, he has not come close to what Terry has been doing for four years.  Tom MIGHT be able to raise a decent amount of money for a primary race, but Terry could if necessary raise an awesome amount of money.  And Terry has the one trump card of his close friendship with Bill Clinton, which matters hugely in the African-American community, but also among some more conservative Dems and Independents.

    3.  Terry McAuliffe -  I agree with Kindler that he has an almost boyish ability and enthusiasm that can be contagious.   It can at times also be over the top, but he has spent so much time around the state that he has learned how to temper it.   Last time he had Mike Henry and Mo Ellethei helping his campaign.  I suspect that Mike Henry will not this time - he had left politics but came back in for Tim Kaine's Senate race.  But I know he would really like to get back to his other pursuits.  Mo is still in politics.   Terry will also have Levar Stoney, who used to run the Virginia Democratic party, helping run his campaign.

    My wife worries that Cuccinelli might win.  If Terry is not damaged/weakened in a primary, I do not think so.  Cooch has hurt himself with several important constituencies

    -  pro-choice women

    -  the University of Virginia community, including alums

    He has no chance whatsoever of making inroads into either the Black or Hispanic communities (and the latter is increasing in Virginia).  

    And as noted before, Terry has the advantage of Bill Clinton as a validator.  I might suggest people go back and look at the votes in Virginia in 1996 -  Clinton only lost to Dole 47-45 (remember, Perot was in the race).  As the last two presidential contests have shown, Virginia is far less conservative than it was then.  Yes, in a gubernatorial year the vote does tend to be down, but I think Terry is quite well positioned to defeat Cooch.

    What is of even more importance is that Terry knows he needs to do what he can to help on races in the House of Delegates, all 100 seats of which are up at the same time.  The Dems will NOT take it back, in part because of gerrymandering.  But McAuliffe has the ability to "dominionize" those races - to help talk about the impact of individual districts on the Old Dominion as a whole.  

    Is Terry a perfect progressive?  No, and a perfect progressive might have trouble defeating Cooch.  Terry is probably somewhat MORE progressive than Mark Warner, but like Warner would be someone with whom the Richmond business community would feel comfortable.  As would the expanding NoVa business community, which is very much into high tech.

    I know a lot of conservative types from outside the state would support Cooch - expect the likes of the Koch Brothers to be very active.  But Cooch will not be able to swamp Terry with outside money.

    Oh, and in Virginia?  1) Corporations can donate directly;  2) all contributions are disclosed.   I actually think that works to Terry's advantage, because it will be very easy for his supporters to tie the most extreme of Cuccinnelli's positions around the necks of any corporate type considering contributing to him -  we have some experience going after Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh on their positions.

    Do not get me wrong.  I love Tom Perriello.  While I would not quit my teaching job, were he to run for office and ask for my help, I could not decline.  But I think it would be s serious mistake for him to challenge McAuliffe in a primary I think he would almost surely lose, and also risk being blamed for weakening the nominee if the primary got too heated.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:47:17 PM PST

    •  Exactly! (0+ / 0-)

      Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

      by totallynext on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:32:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Great post (0+ / 0-)

      Can you repost this as a diary?

      I had been thinking of supporting Terry McAuliffe and your post pretty much sold me.

      Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

      by JamieG from Md on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:04:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent! Now all of us have to make sure we push (5+ / 0-)

      anyone we know on our side to actually turn out and vote for the Democratic slate--its entirety--next year. One of the sadder parts of the "blue fade" of 2009 was the decimation of legislators down ballot.

      Having been present at the misbegotten birth of the Cooch's political office career in what should be a civics lesson on why every election is important I "Never underestimate the Cooch to pull one off."  

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:55:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. We can't afford to lose this one. (6+ / 0-)

        Thanks for the history lesson, PR, as sad is it is. Let's also never forget that we came with 324 votes (statewide!!) of stopping Bob McDonnell's political career in 2005. All it would have taken is 1 more D vote per precinct in Fairfax and Arlington counties and the associated cities. 1 more vote per precinct.  

        Virginia Democratic activists need to focus on turning out the so-called "Federal Democrats" - those that only vote in the even-year elections.   Logically, there is absolutely no reason for anyone who voted for President Obama to sit on the sidelines for an election involving Ken Cuccinelli. But, unless we work as hard as we did this year, too many of them may not even realize that there's an election in Virginia. Too many NOVA Dems see Richmond as a quaint sideshow that doesn't really concern them. Activists need to make the case that it does. If Cuccinelli gets in, he'll make Scott Walker of Wisconsin look like a moderate.

        This election is really the next important battleground in the fight to push the wingnut agenda off the national stage for ever. As such, I hope that the Democratic candidate (whoever it turns out to be) can count on support from progressives nationwide, as well as the votes of all Virginians who care about reproductive rights, the environment, and health care (just to chose some of Cooch's more salient failings).

        •  I will have to admit I give Richmond little (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, kindler, semiot, NotGeorgeWill

          thought except an occasional "sailor's cursing" of late. On the other hand, never have I sat out an election, in over 52 years, except when I was so far out there that my application for absentee ballot and any ballot sent couldn't catch up (monthly mail has its problems and I had mail that caught up two and three months later).

          There are a few things we activists need to keep pounding upon:

          1) Every election is important. That is when those local officials that can mess with voting get in. That is when a career such as the Cooch can be DOA or take on "incumbency advantage" to our later regret.

          2) Every vote counts, as your example shows and that August election that put the Cooch on his path to statewide office shows.

          3) It usually isn't a matter of the "best." We rarely get, and rarely will, get the best. All we can do is kill the careers of the worst and always try to get the better. Anyone sitting out because Deeds or McAuliffe isn't their cup of tea will get McDonnell or Cuccinelli and "punishment" of the public, teaching them a lesson, in doing so is too damned costly as well as ineffective.

          I'll have to admit, when I see someone here saying they will sit out such an election (as I did in 2009) to "teach a lesson" or because Deeds didn't turn them on as someone aiding the opposition's agenda (a fucking useless, silly political dilettante idiot without enough common sense to be taken seriously).

          Voting can be a pleasant task such as voting for Obama and seeing a win. It is also a necessary housekeeping function such as flushing the toilet to keep the crap out. I wish we had more pleasant tasks, but in those 52+ years I have to say most of my votes have been of the flushing kind. I cannot count the times my choice has been between awful and dismal, but making a choice count is necessary.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:10:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Not sure I agree with 'define', although I mostly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    agree with the rest.  I don't think the President 'defined' Mitt Romney, so much as simply 'exposed' Mitt Romney.  'Defining' makes it sound like you're just making up a plotline and character.  Mitt Romney actually was everything he was said to be, and went out of his way many times on his own to reinforce his image with voters.

  •  Great diary (5+ / 0-)

    I think you've really painted an accurate portrait of McAuliffe and shown what he faces. Just one comment: maybe he should do things like sponsor a Nascar team. Warner used such things to get southern VA to know and trust him. Terry needs to do the same.

    And I hope he has a really good answer for "why do you want the job?" I think every candidate should be asked that question, and should have a convincing reason that he wants the job, and the voters want him to have it.

  •  Well-thought-out diary, and I think YOU should (4+ / 0-)

    present these arguments to him in a letter.

    Whatever one may feel about Mr. McAuliffe, he IS a Democrat and will veto the vicious bills thought up by the wild-eyed Rethugs in the Virginia legislature.  And I put it to the public with all the seriousness I can muster:  even if Terry McAuliffe is NOT your favorite person, he'll still be miles better than the Kook!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:20:51 PM PST

  •  We should invite him (0+ / 0-)

    to the next meetup of Virginia Kos.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:06:06 PM PST

  •  Good discussion ... (3+ / 0-)

    a framing angle: often better to put things in the positive / truthful frame before dealing with debunking:

    Terry is thus ...

    A Businessman Who Recognizes That Business Thrives in a Functioning Society:  Terry McAuliffe is a millionaire. Unlike Mitt Romney and his minions, McAuliffe recognizes that he was able to build his wealth because of regulations that enable a working marketplace, because of the strength of American society, because of governmental investment in infrastructure like the internet and roads.

    A Modern Day Virginian:  Terry McAuliffe is a Virginian -- a VA drivers' license carrying and VA registered voter for decades. America is defined by social, economic, and geographic mobility. Yes, Terry McAuliffe wasn't born in Virginia.  Neither, by the way, was New Jersey-born Cuccinelli.

    A Serious Player:  Whether in politics or business or society, Terry McAuliffe is serious and successful. He knows how to get things done and has done so.  Like someone hiding his intelligence and capability behind an 'good old boy' routine, Terry McAuliffe is sociable and engaging in a way that, for some, masks the intelligence and capability behind those sparkling eyes.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:34:57 AM PST

    •  Still, no track record in elected office . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      His main skills have been raising money and dealing in the transactional side of federal politics (e.g. lobbying for personal enrichment).  He served as DNC chair during what was arguably the least succesful five year period of the DNC's operation from 2000-2005.

      His business career has been almost entirely entertwined with federal politics -- e.g. the questionable activity at Federal City National Bank, and/or lobbying on behalf of corporate clients seeking favors.  This isn't a guy who launched a new industry, or a business in the traditional sense.  McAuliffe's professional resume will be a huge gift to oppo researchers.  This isn't Mark Warner redux.

      McAuliffe is also a tireless campaigner and, if matched up against Cuccinelli, his liabilities are likely to count for a lot less than Cuccinelli's extremism.  But as part of looking at his candidacy with eyes wide open, it's one of those cases where this is a candidate who I can support, but with some serious reservations.  Incidentally, he's been a bit cagey, but on the natural gas issue, it sounds like he and the GOP are basically on the same page about drilling off the Virginia coast.  However, he may be more open to other greener forms of energy generation.

      •  Couple things ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        1.  We aren't necessarily far apart.

        2.  The rewrite was a suggestion to diarist about how to deal with framing -- putting the negative frame as the 'lede' reinforces, in the end, the negative more than boosting the positive w/significant portion of audience.  My 'three' were a rewrite of diaries three following that point -- an 'intellectual exercise' whether I agree / disagree. See Debunking Handbook

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 04:27:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Makes sense . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          this is consistent with the idea that George Lakoff put forward in his book about framing: "Don't think of an elephant", whicn is also illustrated in Nixon's infamous "I am not a crook" -- which of course reinforces the frame, rather than debunks it.

          On the other hand, I think this is one of those things that is generally true, but not universally so.  

          e.g. an exception is the Domino's Pizza marketing campaign from two years ago, which boiled down to: "You say our pizza sucks.  We agree.  Here's what we've done about it."  There was no way that Domino's could really avoid the issue.  A huge swath of potential customers had stopped buying the product because they thought it sucked.  So rather than trying to persuade people that they were wrong, there was some ownership of the problem.  I think that customers appreciated the approach and it made them receptive to giving the product another shot.  

          Much of this depends on the audience and the messenger and the degree to which a person is invested in a perception.  

          In the context of a party primary, it's important to acknowledge concerns that people have upfront.  It's the proverbial elephant in the room with Terry (e.g. the mercenary "used car salesman" quality that I think is a common perception of him on the part of many rank and file Dems -- it's something that has to be overcome, not simply reframed).  

          If you engage it, I think people are more open to hearing the argument, because it's an acknowledgement that people are approaching the "problem" at the start from a shared frame-work.  It's not a move to tell people that their perception is necessarily wrong.  The initial perception may be right, but it may be incomplete.  So you start with an existing framework in the attempt to establish a more nuanced framework.

          For the purposes of this diary, and this readership of this site, I think the diarists approach is exactly the way to go.  For the purposes of reaching a broader audience, it probably isn't.   Most general election voters probably haven't even heard of McAuliffe, or at a minium, don't have a settled opinion about him.  Selling his candidacy doesn't require overturning an existing negative perception, so it makes more sense to start from a frame in a general election that sells the strengths and puts the best foot forward.

          •  Thanks for thoughtful response ... (0+ / 0-)

            There is no 'perfect rule' on this.

            The Domino's example is a bit different, imo, since this is a case of 'we've changed' -- you helped identify a problem, we've acted, problem doesn't exist anymore, try us out ...

            From what I've read on this, the 'negative bolded' still has the negative feedback problem discussed in the Debunking Handbook.  Even in an audience like DKos, there is a reinforcing of that negative among some significant share of the readership.  

            To be clear, what I wrote above was not suggested as the 'end all, be all' of the discussion by a few sentences for examples on a different structuring of the argument in the diary.

            I do think the 'positive' approach takes people's misgivings/concerns directly on in part because it would be (in this situation) discordant with the the opinions/thinkings of those holding the negative opinion. It would jump out and challenge from first words and spark a more thoughtful engagement.

            However, while I have some knowledge of the issue(s) and have thought about it a little, I don't claim Lakoff-like expertise and your comments have me thinking about this.

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:18:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  PS ... (0+ / 0-)

            The Debunking Handbook is a quick (under 10 pages) and interesting read.

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 03:19:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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