Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Incredible Shrinking Kilgore

This morning's Roanoke Times' lead editorial weighed in on Jerry Kilgore's increasingly low profile in the Virginia gubernatorial campaign. As the Times points out, the camera-shy Kilgore doesn't even star in the newest of his TV commercials. Over at some conservative Virginia blogs,there's much gushing about how they love that ad. One writer even says that he has yet to find anyone who didn't like it. (I'm guessing there are more than he thinks.) The only thing I like about the ad is that it does nothing to advance the candidacy of Jerry Kilgore. But it's a shameless example of Kilgore's low opinion of the electorate. He seems to think Virginia's voters should see and hear as little of him as possible: You know, silently pose, blue-suited, with his arms crossed a few times. Say little-to-nothing. He barely shows his face in the ad, a metaphor for his entire campaign. Perhaps even Jerry realizes he doesn't seem gubernatorial. And this phantom candidate of a phantom campaign is afraid voters might see the empty suit.

For his ardent supporters,the current line is that opponents of Kilgore are making fun of his SW Virginia accent. This is absurd. We are all Virginians and the majority of Virginians have an accent. But such claims are handy obfuscation, plain and simple. And to malign Kaine supporters is a lot easier than having to have good reasons to articulate why they support their guy. Such maligning is also a convenient way to inject ad-hominum attacks on those of us who speak out. So Jerry can get away with his continuing saga as Jerry-the-Duck. Meanwhile, the real issue of the day for opponents is Kilgore's lack of transparency, his hyper-controlled appearances, his use of the media, his refusal to answer questions, etc.

The latest salvo is that Jerry wants to worm out of the only televised debate planned because he now wants to insert a "no use" restriction into the debate agreement. That would mean that anyone not watching on TV couldn't see the debate (unless they tape, TIVO, or DVR it). And the campaigns couldn't use any of it in their campaign ads. His strategy will make it all the easier to twist and distort Tim Kaine's record, as in the recent gas-tax ad. Kaine has no proposal to raise the gas tax. But Kilgore tries to manipulate this timely issue. The ad claims Virginia is one of the highest gas tax states. It's in the bottom quartile.

If you read the transcript of the Jerry-the-Duck West Virginia debate, or what few clips were available of the untelevised debate with Tim Russert moderating, you'll see why. There were the Virginia Bar and the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce not responding well to Jerry's pathetic Ducking of questions. At the second untelevised debate, occasionally, the audience (and even later news reporters) laughed at, not with, him. So, Virginians are being asked for their vote for this man, even as he pulls a Bush-style cover-up of what should be available voter information. Once again Jerry has studied the White House Play Book and learned to Leave No Information Behind. It's Democracy Upside Down once again.