1. Stalin: Down in Georgia, Up in Bedford
It was announced this week that officials in Georgia (the country, that is) have tore down a statue of the infamous Soviet dictator in his hometown of Gori and will be replacing it with a memorial to the fallen in the Russia-Georgian War of 2008. Yet here in Bedford a bust of Stalin is still standing at the D-Day Memorial despite the urging of the American Legion and others to remove the statue. If Gori doesn’t want to see him, what’s he doing up in Bedford?
Anyone know the significance of this number? That’s the enrollment at Northern Virginia Community College this year, far and away the Commonwealth’s largest institution of higher education. Virginia’s community colleges are increasingly providing students’ initial exposure to higher ed and are key players in workforce development. They might be better called opportunity institutions because they’re geared to offering skills and hope to individuals striving to be competitive in a global marketplace.
3. You Can Tell that Media Budgets Are Down
When newspapers start reporting as news a politician’s own polls about his approval rating. This week a number of Virginia papers carried an internal poll conducted for Republicans noting that the Governor’s approval rating was at 63%. I’m not certain this is news and I’m not sure that too many politicans would release the ratings if these were below 50%. But with these caveats, the numbers strike me as about right and reflect a general sense that McDonnell is doing his best to cope with tough economic and budgetary challenges.
4. Is Steve Shannon Planning to Run Again?
Despite being defeated in a landslide by Ken Cuccinelli in 2009. It sounds more and more like it to me. The Post reported that he’s begun a political action committee and this week he blasted his victorious opponent Ken Cuccnelli, implying that his acceptance of a contribution from a leader of a “Navy Veterans” group under investigation may have been connected to consumer protection policy stances that Cuccinelli adopted. What Shannon is attempting is not an easy task (Bill Dolan tried in the 1990’s), but his attempt to raise his visibility points out the void (and perhaps the opportunity) at the core of the state Democratic Party today.
5. How Bad?
Seems to be the question that the Democrats are asking themselves about this year’s congressional elections in Virginia (and elsewhere). With a little more than four months to go before the election, the two big macro-level indicators of electoral outcomes aren’t getting much better. While consumer confidence has increased, the overall unemployment number remains unacceptably high. In addition, the President’s approval rating continues to slide. Taken together, a large segment of the public thinks that the country is on the wrong track. And since the Democrats run the railroad, the discontent is likely to be taken out on their party and not on incumbents in general. Just look at Virginia where all GOP seats appear safe while 2-4 Democrats could be considered potentially vulnerable.
6. McChrystal Sandbagged?
By Rolling Stone. That’s the line that some of the General’s supporters trotted out in a front-page WAPO story after his resignation this week. They maintained that the magazine violated the terms of its agreement on what it would report and what it would omit from the story. Rolling Stone denied the charge. But even if the assertion is factually true, it is political naivete of the highest order. What could McChrystal’s staff have been possibly thinking in the first place when they decided to grant the magazine such extraordinary access?
7. The Afghan War
Could well become far more of a political problem for the administration than it has been to date. On one hand, the remarks of McChrytal and his staff- labeling the Vice-President “Bite-Me” and calling the President’s National Security Adviser “a clown” may fit the classic definition of a gaffe- saying exactly what you mean in a politically inappropriate way. On the other hand, many liberal Democrats in Congress essentially see the war in Afghanistan as not much better (if at all) than the war in Iraq. In any case, it is not clear whether the President has successfully sold the American public on either the likely length or cost of U.S. involvement.