Today’s Washington Post Editorial pointed out many positive attributes of Governor McDonnell, who was sworn in today at noon in Richmond at the State Capitol. It is a worthwhile read so therefore will be reprinted in its entirety.

GOV. ROBERT F. MCDONNELL — he sheds the hyphenated “-elect” at noon Saturday — has struck many of the right chords in the run-up to his inauguration as Virginia’s 71st governor. His performance during the transition, at once wary of partisan triumphalism and mindful of the state’s grave challenges, has been as focused, disciplined and effective as his successful electoral campaign last fall. That has set the stage for him to lead a state that, despite solid past management and a wealth of natural advantages, is reeling from a national economic downturn.

A key to Mr. McDonnell’s success in setting a constructive tone so far has been his cabinet appointments. In electing to retain Rick Brown, who has been Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s finance secretary, the incoming governor has opted for stability and continuity in the area of state government that needs it most. And in tapping former Prince William County Board chairman Sean Connaughton as his transportation secretary, he has picked a proven, able and pragmatic administrator to focus on Virginia’s most urgent problem: its badly overwhelmed transportation network. It remains to be seen whether Mr. McDonnell, who pledged to address the transportation crisis in his first year in office, will, in fact, deliver a critically needed plan to generate fresh and dependable new funding to build roads and bridges.

Mr. McDonnell’s only real misstep to date is to have acceded, at least until now, to the demands of his designated trade and commerce secretary, Robert C. Sledd, that he remain on the boards of three private corporations even while serving as a full-time cabinet secretary. That sent a signal that the new governor would tolerate the appearance of conflicts of interest in his government. But amid the outcry that followed that initial decision, Mr. McDonnell has signaled that he may, in fact, prefer that Mr. Sledd give up the board memberships rather than go to the mat in the cause of lax ethics. That would be wise.

To his credit, the new governor also distanced himself from one of his longest-standing and most generous financial backers, Pat Robertson, after Mr. Robertson’s contemptible comment blaming the disaster in Haiti on Haitians themselves. (According to Mr. Robertson’s reading of history, Haiti brought misery upon itself by making a pact with the devil to throw off the French colonial yoke in the 18th century.) Mr. McDonnell promptly issued a statement saying he disagreed with Mr. Robertson (a first), despite having taken more than $100,000 from Mr. Robertson over the course of his career, and expressing sympathy for Haitians. Perhaps Mr. McDonnell will finally see fit to make a clean break with a polarizing figure who has become an albatross around his neck.

Mr. McDonnell has also taken pains to get the symbolism right as he prepares to move into the governor’s mansion amid the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. He has cut his own salary and asked his cabinet to do the same, scaled back the inaugural festivities, volunteered in food banks, and visited a homeless shelter. In making so many of the right moves, Mr. McDonnell is buying himself credibility he will badly need as he prepares to make billions of dollars in spending cuts to an already depleted state budget and help steer Virginia toward better times.

 Governor McDonnell surely has his work cut out for him.  Virginia is in economic crisis.  His leadership will be critical and will impact Virginia for decades to come. 

Great Pictures of Inauguration.

9 Thoughts to “Washington Post Editorial: Governor McDonnell”

  1. Opinion

    I read the articles about McDonnell that have been running in the post. You know, I’m starting to like McDonnell. He might be just the right Governor for this moment in history.

  2. As long as he can keep the extremists at arms length, you might very well be right. I say, the jury is out. He tried to run as a moderate. I hope he will govern as one.

  3. Thanks for including the photos, Moon. The more I get involved in the community, the more I understand that being part of a democracy is not just voting on election day. The decisions of our elected officials make are only as good as the input and the support they get from each and every citizen. And our input is only as good as the information we get, from attending public meetings, getting news from a variety of sources, and being a part of the dialogue. Good job, on reasonable debate and respect for diverse people.

  4. Emma

    Curse that damned HOT lane construction. I hate the whole idea. I hope McDonnell doesn’t soon develop the Richmond amnesia that sets in, where NoVa voters are taxed to pay for infrastructure for the rest of the state. We’ll see.

  5. Cindy, I especially enjoyed seeing the pictures of former governors Robb and Holton, who is Tim Kaine’s father in law. They were all great.

    As for reasonable debate…preaching to the choir will simply drive everyone off into their own corners. Hopefully we cover a variety of topics here so that everyone, liberal, conservative, moderate and none of the above can voice their opinion and add to the public discourse.

    I had someone the other day express to me that they are glad they were ‘quarreling’ with someone on here that they usually agree with…it was healthy. I agree.

    Emma, fill us in on the details. You are always much more up on these things than I am. Hot lane construction glazed my eyes over. Now I am at your mercy.

  6. Tuesday night: first step in the set-up for new taxes, to build a few new roads

  7. Juturna

    I, too, am having second thoughts about McDonnell. He seems to be more of an a la carte thinker than I orginally believed. We sure could use some of that!

    I am a believer that the federal government should spend more time and attention on transportation (for one) than the moral behavior of the citizens. I think that Mr. Connaughton has his work cut out for him convincing them otherwise. What I can hope for at the most is that he will begin to lay the groundwork for a transportation plan – one that is at least regional. Bos-Wash region should take some sort of control and address this federally. Perhaps it’s already happening. It is unlikely that without federal attention and funding nothing will improve. Transportation in the US hasn’t been addressed properly since the Eisenhower administration. And why on earth should the states of Maryland and Virginia own the Wilson Bridge when it joins an interstate???!!!

  8. Firedancer

    The Post gave a positive writeup of McDonnell’s inaugural speech today. I’m a liberal Democrat activist, but somehow I feel encouraged by his efforts to appear as a moderate centrist. I think it’s the right stand to take at this time. He mentioned that Virginia is a diverse state, and did not mention anything about immigration or other divisive social issues. His big thing is limiting government. What I don’t get is that if Conservatives believe in limiting governmental intrusion in our lives, then shouldn’t they be in favor of gay marriage and the right to terminate a pregnancy?

  9. Formerly Anonymous


    I’ll take a shot at answering one of your two questions, specifically about abortion. The reason abortion is such a tricky issue is that both sides genuinely believe they have the moral high ground. As for it being a small government issue, that doesn’t really factor into the decision for the pro-life/anti-choice people. A very large percentage of them believe that life begins at conception or very soon afterwards. To them, terminating a pregnancy is really akin to murder and is only to be permitted (if at all) under very few circumstances.

    It’s not that they are against small government or more individual freedom, it’s just that they (like most people I believe) don’t extend individual freedoms to legalizing what they consider to be murder.

    I’m not saying this view is right or wrong, I’m just trying to help answer the question Firedancer posed so that he or she might understand why people have opposing views on abortion. I do think it is important to understand why each side holds the positions they do and understand the issue from their prospective. Both camps want what they believe is best for the country, they just often times have a very different vision of what is best for the country.

    (As I mentioned a while ago, I’m going to be pretty light on posting for a while. Things are a little crazy in my world at the moment. It’s killing me that I don’t have any time to watch what’s going on in the Mass. Senate race this week. A competitive Senate race in Massachusetts, with the fate of the health care reform bill in the balance? So much to watch and so little time.)

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