In late January, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell delivered the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address. Ever since, he's been touted as a serious presidential contender who could bring moderation to the Republican Party. But McDonnell's electability is now in question following his proclamation honoring Confederate History Month. He didn't mention the role of slavery in the state's history—which has outraged large swathes of the country. He has since apologized but will that be enough?
- This Undercuts His Appeal, writes John Dickerson at Slate: "What he endangered was his image as a post-ideological 'future face of the Republican Party.' McDonnell is the one conservatives point to as an example of someone who can govern without becoming polarizing. He flirted with becoming the opposite case: the latest proof of a party trying too hard to appease its base."
- Strengthens His Base, Offends Everyone Else, writes Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly: "The GOP's far-right base already adored McDonnell, but in contemporary Republican circles, that never seems to be enough -- party officials keep trying to do more to impress right-wing activists, no matter how insulting or offensive the efforts may be to everyone else."
- Hold On, He Deserves Credit, writes Civil War buff Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic: "My initial reaction is that this is one of deep, heart-felt happiness. I have spent the past year and half studying slavery and the Civil War, with a specific focus on Virginia. I have become tied to people who died long ago, and have inherited some piece of them. I took McDonnell's original statement as an affront to people I love. That he changed, even though he must have known that his actions would be reported as a 'surrender,' deserves note."
- Let's Put This Into Perspective, writes Candace Moore at Newsbusters: "The only reason the issue had been dormant for eight years was because two Democrat governors had refused to take part. Before then, it had been common for Virginians to observe the event. Since 2011 will be the 150th anniversary of secession, McDonnell can be excused for thinking it might be relevant."