Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds is desperate. The race in Virginia is slipping from his grasp, and the president’s fading popularity in that state has knocked out a potential lifeline. The solution: dredge up abortion as a wedge issue to scare Virginia’s suburban voters. Even the Washington Post is skeptical. After all, Deeds’s opponent Bob McDonnell is solidly pro-life but has barely mentioned social issues. He’s talking about bread-and-butter issues like jobs, education, and transportation. So Deeds now wants to bring up and dwell on social issues, trying to make the case that McDonnell is out of the mainstream. This, of course, comes from the party that insists Republicans only want to talk about social issues. McDonnell, with substantial justification, declares that Deeds is practicing “the politics of division.”
Well, that’s what Democrats are now reduced to—jobs, Obama, health-care reform, taxes, and transportation don’t work, so they bring up social issues, which aren’t close to being on the voters’ radar screen. If it seems half-baked and panicky, it is. And McDonnell now predictably and with much justification will claim that Deeds is out of touch with Virginians.
Since last November, we’ve had quite a political readjustment. We’ll see just how extensive it has been—as well as what happens in a swing state when one national party embraces an extremist agenda.