Friday, May 4, 2012

Trouble In Democratic Paradise?

Much is being made by the mainstream media and the Democratic strategists about the allegedly tepid support that Republican presidential nominee-presumptive Mitt Romney is receiving from his fellow Republican power brokers. True or not, I have serious doubts that any Republican governor will withhold his or her support from Romney, let alone in a very public way. The same cannot be said of Barack Obama.

With all the advantages of incumbency and without the necessity of going through a bruising primary campaign, the president can’t even hold the Democratic governors together. West Virginia Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has gone on record as refusing to endorse Obama for reelection, but has also given some pretty strong reasons for his refusal.

Gov. Tomblin’s statement minces no words: “President Obama has apparently made it his mission to drive the backbone of West Virginia’s economy, coal and the energy industry out of business. That will not only hurt thousands of West Virginia families, it will destroy the economic fabric of our state.” Tomblin went on to say: “As a loyal member of the Democratic Party and as governor of our state, I will continue to do everything I can, including suing the EPA, to get the president to change the misguided policies that are hurting West Virginians.”

How long this will last and how much effect it will have on other Democratic stalwarts remains to be seen. But Tomblin is not the only important Democratic figure from a state heavily-dependent on the production and use of coal and oil for the health of their state economies. In addition, several Republican governors of coal producing/using states could quickly latch onto the same refrain (Pennsylvania and Ohio come to mind—both battleground states). Never mind the phony “war on women.” This is a real war on coal and oil, and now a Democratic governor has spoken the unspeakable.

Make no mistake. Tomblin is not about to become a maverick who endorses a Republican for president. West Virginia is a very poor state, with a large rural population and a significant portion of its population dependent on government handouts. But he has made a point which could resonate throughout other fossil-fuel states. And he has essentially “given permission” for other Democrats to remain loyal to their party without being loyal to the Great Job Destroyer.

Tomblin made it clear he is not a fan of either Romney or the Republican agenda, then proceeded to repeat Democratic talking points. Said Tomblin: “Mitt Romney is supporting policies that will end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. His policies will put more burdens on West Virginia families who are simply trying to make ends meet.” In other words, “I support Democratic policies which keep many West Virginians on the plantation and on the welfare rolls, but not a president who destroys union jobs and raises energy costs in quantum leaps.”

He concluded with “neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has earned my vote at this point.” That leaves open the question of whether he would reverse his position should Obama throw a few bones to West Virginia in the form of job incentives that are more apparent than real. That would be a real tightrope for both the president and the governor. Federal government handouts can go a long way toward greasing the wheels of currently-Democratic states.

West Virginia has a 2-1 Democratic registration majority, but has elected many Republicans to statewide and federal offices in the very recent past. Both the governor and Senator Joe Manchin (Tomblin’s predecessor in the governor’s mansion) are acutely aware that when it comes to unions and welfare, they are on solid ground. On the overall issue of jobs and the Obama ecoweenie attacks on coal production and coal-fueled energy their jobs are on shaky ground, and they know it. It doesn’t do them any good to support the United Mine Workers Union if the coal mines are forced to cease production and the state economy reaches final collapse.

In addition, Sen. Manchin has not endeared himself to the Obamacrats as he has implored the president to reverse course on “conscience waivers” in Obamacare to accommodate doctors religiously opposed to abortion and forced coverage for birth control and abortifacients. Blue Dog Democrats are a vanishing breed, but they haven’t yet gone entirely extinct.

So there appears to be a war going on in Democratic heaven. The question is, “who plays Satan and who plays God in this Paradise Lost scenario?” And then there’s always the question of which one will win.


Joel Farnham said...

Be still my beating heart. You mean to tell me that a Democrat Governor doesn't like Obama? And lives to tell about it?

Wow, miracles do happen.

StanH said...

WV, is always an enigma, and are famous for the bait-n-switch. The governor and senator are playing political expedience, because we must remember, what does a politician want most of all, is to be reelected.

AndrewPrice said...

Having done time in WVA, I can tell you that West Virginia has RARELY elected Republicans statewide -- 2 governors since 1977, no senators, 4 representatives since 1969. They currently have one safe House seat and one they will lose in the next election.

But they do have a history of voting Republican for President. And they are also DEEPLY racist.

So Manchin and Tomblin are simply playing the odds. They know a "darkie" Democratic President ain't gonna fly with the good people of West by God Virginia. And they don't want to be seen as supporting them.

Now Manchin is an interesting guy because he tried to eliminate a lot of business killing stuff in WVa, and he did a good job of it. He is definitely a conservative Democrat. But he is still a Democrat.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Government control and direction in all that we do is the antithesis of liberty.
Thomas Jefferson said it well;
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."

Now the Government tells us what toilet to buy, what dishwasher to buy, even tells us what foods to buy and eat.
We are all mostly interested in protecting our world and conserving resources but do not have the liberty to do such in our own way.
Worst of all, the people who are telling us and imposing fines and or imprisonment on us for not doing it their way don't know how themselves.
Tomblin needs to address what he swore to uphold not some political party gone astray.

Unknown said...

Joel: We'll see if he lives to tell about it (metaphorically speaking, of course). W VA is heavily dependent on federal largess, so it's quite possible that he is just setting up a bargaining position for some relief in the coal industry.

Unknown said...

Stan: I remember shenanigans in W VA way back when I first got involved in politics as a teenager. It was 1960, and the Hubert Humphrey camp was accusing the Kennedy camp of buying W VA's votes. The state and its politics are not exactly my cup of tea, but they are always interesting. It is, after all, the home of deceased Senator and former Ku Klux Klan biggie Robert Byrd (b. Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.)

Unknown said...

Andrew: I remember your plaintive "get me outta here" e-mails back when you were dealing with what seemed like a perpetual case in West Virginia. I keep hoping you'll write a book based on your experiences with the law (such as it is) in W. Va. LOL

I like your input on Manchin. He doesn't seem to fit as well as Tomblin into the traditional mold of the West Virginia Democrat. Your description of the typical W. Va. voter was pretty much the view I had from the outside. Mostly, I just care that this is further evidence that Obama is not going to get lockstep support from the Democrats this time around.

Unknown said...

Tehachapi Tom: I don't think Tomblin much cares what the federal government does about telling Americans how to live their lives. He's a typical welfare Democrat in most ways. He really has only one issue of dispute with Obama, and that's coal--the life's blood of West Virginia. That one issue outweighs all the others on which he and Obama are in complete agreement.

tryanmax said...

I wouldn't be too excited or enthralled. "Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has earned my vote at this point," sounds a call for favors to me. And I don't think he's expecting any from Romney.

I know W.b.G.Va. rarely picks Republicans for statewide office, but this election has potential to be an exception. Tomblin ran a very tight race against Republican Bill Maloney to get the governor's seat in the special election, and Maloney looks to be coming back strong for round two. Party may be enough to tie Tomblin to Obama's unpopular energy policy, even as he tries to distance himself. And the risk he runs there is that the more he tries to distance himself from Obama, the less distinguishable he becomes from his opponent. It's still a stretch to say that could be enough to get 2/3 Democrat W.b.G.Va. to try the other flavor, but the old flavor isn't as satisfying as it used to be, either. It's also worth noting that Tomblin couldn't get a Union endorsement until after he had won the primaries in the special election. Prior to that, W.Va. AFL-CIO actively campaigned against him, calling Tomblin the "most anti-working family" member of the W.Va. Senate. Not only is that bound to be brought up by his opponents, but it also says a couple of things, 1) Unions aren't as influential to the W.Va. vote as they have been in the past and 2) Tomblin's support from the base is probably still as tepid as it was last fall.

That's my wonkishness for the day.


RE: Medicare and Social Security, The key phrase always seems to be "as we know it." Well, as I know those programs, they are inefficient, insolvent, and headed for collapse. Republicans really should pick up on that little "as we know it" turn of phrase and throw it back on Democrats.

"You're darn right we want to end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. For generations now, Democrats have used these programs to take hard-earned money away from American families and give back nothing in return. Everybody who works pays in, but there's no guarantee that you'll get anything back. The Supreme Court has even ruled so, but you'll never hear that little tidbit from Democrats' lips. If these programs, programs that steal--I'll say it--steal money from hard-working Americans, aren't the kind of government programs that should be put to an end, then I don't know what kind of programs are. If the government can't be trusted to return the money that rightly belongs to its citizens, maybe they shouldn't have taken it in the first place!" *cheers and applause*

That's my speechwriting for the day.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I'm rather impressed by how much our readers know about West Virginia politics. We have a very well-informed group of commenters.

If we don't end the big entitlement programs as we know them, they'll end entirely by collapsing from their own weight, and take the rest of the economy with them.

Viva wonkishness.

LL said...

The whole "hope and change" thing has gone the way of the iron horse and it's not coming back. Obama was celebrated for being half-black but I suspect that the blush is off the rose. ObamaCare is not popular and by hook or crook, it's going to vanish - like Bo-the-White House-dog...

Obama can flash his Nobel Peace Prize, received for being black, but there isn't much in West Virginia or anywhere else that speaks to being better off now than four years ago. And when it comes to voting, I think people will think in those terms rather than who has what shade of skin pigment.

It's not about race or religion. It's about utopian socialism vs capitalism. There is a reason why FOX News is more popular than it's more left-of-center competition.

Unknown said...

LL: When it finally comes down to the actual vote, I think the repeat of Reagan's "are you better off now than you were four years ago" will be a major factor in last-minute voter decisions. And it's sure as hell a lot more effective than Obamao's "forward."

tryanmax said...

LawHawk, I wish I knew more states as well as I do W.b.G.Va., but other states aren't as interesting. As it stands, I don't even know next-door Iowa as well as I probably should.

Tennessee Jed said...

while I certainly won't count on West Virginia, if it is at all close there come election time, it could slide our way. I've seen Dick Morris a couple of times recently and he has been touting some statistics about incumbants almost never getting much of the "undecided" vote. If true, that is the factor that could turn anotherwise cliffhanger into a more comfortable win

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I do know Iowa, and believe me, it's not as weird as West Virginia.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: As Andrew mentioned, W VA is very Democratic on the local and state level, but will vote for a Republican in the presidential elections rather regularly. This could very well be one of those times.

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