Only two states, New Jersey and Virginia, hold their gubernatorial elections in odd-numbered years. That, combined with the latter's proximity to D.C. and the national media, mean that anyone elected governor of Virginia almost automatically gets mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, or at least a potential running mate. So it was when Bob McDonnell took office in Richmond, as it had been for Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, George Allen, and others before them. But as his term winds down, McDonnell is enmeshed in a scandal so venal, so base, so old-timey that it's a wonder to behold.
In most of the country, the Cheney name is deeply unpopular. People poke fun at Joe Biden and mock Al Gore, but Dick Cheney stands as one of the most hated and vilified Vice Presidents since Spiro Agnew. And if Republicans have abandoned George W. Bush, then in the case of Cheney, they’ve worked to erase him from their memory of the last administration.
All of this is why it’s odd that his daughter, Liz Cheney, has emerged as a viable candidate for the Wyoming Senate seat currently held by Mike Enzi. Now, it is true that the Cheneys are a long-time fixture in a state known for its conservative politics. But that only explains the viability of Cheney as a candidate. It says nothing about her reason for running. In fact, it’s hard to think of one.
In the wake of innumerable warnings of disaster and accusations of bad faith, Democrats and Republicans did something unusual today: they came to agreement on how to do business, at least for a while. The topic was the filibuster, which used to be something the minority party used in extraordinary circumstances, but in the hands of Republicans has become a hurdle every single substantial piece of legislation and nominee has to jump.
When Mark O'Mara, one of George Zimmerman's attorneys, was asked at a news conference after his client's trial about the role race played in the case, he should have said that his client was found not guilty, and he'd leave the speculation to others. Instead, he said that if Zimmerman had been black, "he never would have been charged with a crime." Because as we all know, the criminal justice system in America is tilted in favor of black people. Sure, whites who shoot blacks are far more likely to get off than whites who kill whites, blacks who kill blacks, or blacks who kill whites (a difference that is especially wide in states with "stand your ground" laws).
The trial of George Zimmerman comes to a close today, and despite the endless hours of cable coverage, those waiting for profound insights into the state of race in America will be disappointed. Zimmerman's guilt or innocence turns on narrow questions, like who got on top of whom during a fight no one saw, not on the jury's opinions about our ongoing struggles with racism.