RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Given the sometimes strong reaction to my Washington Post column – it called on Governor McAuliffe to adopt a less partisan and more people oriented approach [the CBS TV show “60 minutes” agrees] to the Medicaid fight raging in the General Assembly – the time seemed right to address this question:
When should a political commentator put principle above partisanship?
You need to call it like you see it and people need to know it, to count on it. No one is right about everything. This is especially true when you write opinion pieces in real-time. In this connection, see my live commentary on CBS 6 News last night.
But my obligation to readers, to WTVR.com, to the discussion, is to give a thoughtful, factual, objective analysis, to the extent possible by us humans. In other words, to write an honest column putting foreword the reasoned justification for the points made.
At which point YOU, the readers, get to make the final judgment on whether you like or dislike the column. In that regard therefore, my Virginia Democratic critics have a valid point from their point of view:
They feel a former state Democratic chairman, campaign manager for history making Democrats Henry Howell and Doug Wilder, paid campaign advisor to Robb and Warner and Kaine, has an obligation to take a more partisan, anti-Republican line.
They read my Washington Post column and say, “Paul, you and Norm Leahy purposefully write a column trying to find the common ground between a Democratic and Republican point of view. It is the only one in the country. Every other Democratic columnist takes a partisan view.”
As the Washington Post itself concedes, the column Norm and I write is unique, they consider it an experiment since no other two journalists are trying to do it. The Post started to publish it during the gubernatorial campaign.
So yes, my Democratic critics have a valid point. The column violates the rules of the “ole boys club” running stuff. It has been more openly critical of Democratic positions on ethics reform [pathetically weak], education policy [60 percent of our K-12 facilities are obsolete and dysfunctional and yet Democrats refuse to lobby for novel, workable idea even Eric Cantor supports!], transportation [Democrats reneged on a promise and shifted $billions from other key needs to build roads for real estate developers]…
And now it is true on Medicaid, where I believe my strategy of focusing on the plight of real, individual Virginians in order to put a human face on the current phony “government shutdown debate” will prove better for those vulnerable Virginians who need protection.
Plus, Richmond Democratic Party officials have been increasingly critical of my WTVR columns exposing shocking flaws in the Shockoe Stadium proposal that has overwhelming support, publicly and privately, from the Democratic Party High Command at the state and local level.
So yes, they have a valid point here too. I am indeed the drafter of the only two legal referendum petitions being circulated that can get on the ballot this November. They would give average citizens, not just Democratic elected officials, a vote on the matter.
So yes: In their eyes, I am a “bad Democrat.”
But even Henry VIII gave “sinner” St. Thomas More a chance to speak in his defense. The Catholic martyr’s trial defense is legendary. Of course the King cut off his head anyway.
I am due to speak to the state’s premier Democratic organization, the Richmond Crusade for Voters, next week. They have asked me to defend my opposition to the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium proposal supported by all the state’s top elected Democratic and local officials.
I’m no St. Thomas More. But it won't be me losing his head next Tuesday night either.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.