Cracked Rear View
Thursday, November 17, 2005 :::
The WaPo's Michael Shear says that there are plenty of things we'll never really know for sure about the election results. He lists several possible wild cards - including Russ Potts, illegal immigration, taxes and the like.
My strong belief is that Potts did play a factor of some sort, thanks in no small part to his enablers in the press -- like this one from the Roanoke Times (just two days before the election), or this Marc Fisher piece from Nov. 3 where Potts was given a generous platform in the Post from which to bash Kilgore senseless (I wonder if Fisher will be required to report that as an in-kind contribution?).
As for other items on Shear's list, I suggest he stop looking to Grover Norquist as the sentinel, barometer and all-around go-to guy on tax issues. I'll say it till I'm blue in the face: Grover has no boots on the ground in Virginia. His idea of punishing tax apostates is placing his "Least Wanted" poster in the DC-area Metro. The Metro, for heaven's sake. Capitol Hill interns across the city were energized by that display, I'll tell ya. And no one else.
But Shear is also largely correct that there are a number of little-understood or just plain unknown lesson from the election. And the biggest comes at the end of his piece:
In fact, as far as taxes go, the voters might have taken Kaine at face value and concluded that there was no real difference between him and Kilgore. Now the question will be whether Kaine governs according to that perception.
Outgoing Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) created a similar perception in 2001 ("I will not raise taxes.") But voters forgave him after he convinced them that circumstances demanded a $1.5 billion tax increase.
Kaine might convince them again. But he'd be ill-advised to think that the results of the election mean they don't care about taxes.
Things just aren't that clear-cut.
Not yet, at least. But should Kaine decide that a new tax hike for oh, say, transportation would be a good thing, then Virginians will have no one to blame but themselves.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 11/17/2005