Governor Warner Punts On Iraq
I had the chance to catch outgoing Virginia governor Mark Warner on Charlie Rose’s show tonight. It was my first chance to see Warner on the big stage so to speak, handling himself in the national media circuit and responding to an admittedly non-hostile but well-informed interviewer. Truth be told, Warner showed why governors have better candidate profiles, but senators deal with the media better.
As Kos noted in his own post, Warner punted on the question of what to do about Iraq. Kos has his own reasons for going a little hard on Warner this early, as I suspect that despite Jerome Armstrong’s early commitment to the Warner 2008 candidacy, Kos will likely look elsewhere that year. To be clearly transparent here, Warner was and still is my early pick for the Democrats’ 2008 nominee, and I have already thrown some support to him with some cash for his PAC. But I was less than impressed with his maiden voyage on Rose tonight, and after what I went through in 2004, I am leery about committing early and not seeing steady improvement.
Whether Warner was just trying to avoid saying anything about how we got into the Iraq war that would anger red state voters, or whether Warner actually believes that it is nonproductive to talk about how we went to war, he didn’t help himself tonight by punting on the subject. As I said months ago, there is nothing wrong with a Democratic governor clearly distinguishing himself from Bush and the Beltway Democrats on the subject by saying "I didn’t vote for that mistake, nor would I have made it in the first place." Nor is there anything wrong with a Democratic governor promising to never manipulate intelligence and deceive the American people into supporting a war of choice.
On other questions, like the one where Rose asked Warner specifically what sacrifices Bush should have asked of America in response to 9/11, and how not asking for those sacrifices contrasts with the sacrifices of our troops, specifically guardsmen and reservists, Warner again misfired several times. Even after Rose prompted him, aiming to steer Warner into addressing tax cuts in a time of war, it wasn’t until the third or fourth effort that Warner seemingly questioned whether or not the tax cuts should be made permanent, instead of making a strong case that the tax cuts themselves needed to be reconsidered while troops were dying for cheap gas. Warner instead kept focusing rightly on the need for energy independence, but he did so unfortunately in the context of sacrifice and not in the context of national security.
Also lacking from Warner’s presentation was any notion of community, or “Main Street instead of Wall Street.” There was much talk about appealing to the center, of working with Republicans to “get things done” which is what you would expect to hear from a successful red state Democratic governor whose appeal will be that he can run a 50-state campaign. Yet a little more passion, a little sign of bare-knuckled ruthlessness towards the GOP thugs that got us into this mess, and a little more talk about taking this country away from the elites would help Warner with a wide cross-section of people just as much as any appeals to the DLC crowd.
Just my two cents…
(Photo of Warner at event earlier today courtesy of Reuters)