Tasked with following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, freshly sworn in Republican Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell delivered a 10 minute rehashing of Republican talking points and conservative dogma, certain to please GOP purists. Gov. McDonnell waxed political about the attributes of a smaller, less regulatory federal government.
And, as you would expect from the GOP response, the speaker got his snaps in, asserting Obama is trying to do and spend too much. “The federal debt is now over $100,000 per household,” McDonnell declared, blaming Democrats for the “unsustainable” national debt while neglecting to mention his own party’s culpability.
McDonnell’s response was largely Republican boilerplate — [You'll find the transcript and video of the GOP response HERE]– with one exception: his awkward nod to new and social media.
It came at a point in the speech when McDonnell was attempting to dispel the notion of a Republican idea deficit by touting the brevity of his party’s health care reform proposals:
…our solutions aren’t 1,000-page bills that no one has fully read, after being crafted behind closed doors with special interests. In fact, many of our proposals are available online at solutions.gop.gov, and we welcome your ideas on Facebook and Twitter.
The irony of this statement doesn’t stem from McDonnell’s implication that special interest input is exclusive to the Democrat’s proposal. It doesn’t emerge from the laugh it got from those in attendance, or that the speaker couldn’t maintain a straight face while saying it.
All too ironic, however, is that the new media platform created for McDonnell’s GOP response derived a significant proportion of its funding from a special interest he’s – SHOCK! – uninterested in regulating.
The website, as well as the rally, is funded by McDonnell’s political action committee, Opportunity Virginia PAC. According to disclosures provided by the Virginia Public Access Project, [53 percent] of the money for the PAC has been provided by the financial industry .
When McDonnell opposes Obama’s proposed efforts break up big banks, regulate the financial sector, and impose a financial responsibility fee to financial institutions which helped cause the current recession, it should be noted that the very industry McDonnell is fighting to defend underwrote the platform on which he is speaking, both virtually and in Richmond.
While I’m uncertain how much it cost McDonnell’s PAC, the addition of an audience was a vast improvement over past GOP response efforts. Worth every penny. Too bad the Republican policy prescriptions aren’t as savvy as their stagecraft.
* “VA Gov. McDonnell: Brand New Face, Same Old Lies.” Media Matters Action Network, 27 January 2010.
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