October 1, 2009 [LINK / comment]

McDonnell widens his lead

According to the latest Rasmussen poll (hat tip to Augusta Free Press), Bob McDonnell has regained a sizeable lead over Creigh Deeds in the Virginia Governor's race: It's now McDonnell 51%, Deeds 42%. That's about what the margin was before the flap over McDonnell's 1989 grad school paper laying out an ambitious social policy agenda based on rather quaint notions about gender roles in American families. (See Sept. 3.) The previous narrowing of the gap in the immediate aftermath of that revelation turned out to be a mere "temporary blip," just as I expected. McDonnell is not taking Deeds' charges lying down, and he is reacting to them in a carefully calibrated way. Keeping cool and composed under pressure is one of the hallmarks of effective leadership, and McDonnell has met every such test along the way so far.

To me it is reassuring that McDonnell's campaign is maintaing its focus, and that the people of Virginia are not letting themselves be swayed by irrelevant diversionary tactics. In contrast, the Deeds campaign seems to be flailing about, searching for some theme that will "stick," almost reminding me of the unsuccessful Kilgore campaign in 2005.

Marrow on "free money"

In a letter to the editor in yesterday's News Leader, Steve Kijak called attention to a recent awkward comment by Greg Marrow. The Democratic candidate is vying for the seat held by Del. Steve Landes, criticizing Republicans for turning down the $125 million stimulus because they refused to extend unemployment benefits, as required by the Federal stimulus legislation. Marrow saw this as "free money," which was given up to other states, conveniently forgetting where the money came from in the first place.

"Use it or lose it." That is an all-too-common mentality in government, and many social programs contain such perverse incentives that lead to waste of public money. The same thing goes for many health benefit programs: You get X number of dollars per year, and if you don't spend it by December 31 (or whatever the deadline is), it's gone forever. And that is precisely why all the talk of eliminating "waste" under the public option of Obamacare is so absurd. Everyone in the country will be frantically trying to squeeze every bit of benefit from the public health care system that they can.