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Bobby McSlick: Virginia's Own…Zelig?

by: kindler

Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 17:23:05 PM EDT

In Woody Allen's classic film "Zelig", he presented the story of a "human chameleon" who magically takes on the appearance and character of whomever he happens to be around at the moment.  Bob McDonnell presently appears to be acting out a special remake of this movie in order to entertain - or perhaps fool - the people of Virginia.  

As the Washington Post's Anita Kumar noted a couple weeks back, Bobby McSlick simultaneously claims to be from three different parts of Virginia - Fairfax County (where he grew up), Virginia Beach (where he attended Pat Robertson's Regent University) and the Richmond area (where he currently lives).  And it's interesting to see how he separately markets himself in each of these areas as "one of our own."

Today, I saw a forest of Bob McDonnell signs along the roadway in Fairfax County, labeling him "Fairfax's own Bob McDonnell".  But here's the really interesting thing - as soon as I drove beyond the limits of Fairfax County, the signs suddenly changed - now they proclaimed him "NOVA's own Bob McDonnell"!

Is this guy slick or what?  I'd like to hear from our friends in other parts of Virginia if McSlick is pulling the same tricks elsewhere in the state.  Is he simultaneously advertising himself as "Hampton Road's own"? "Virginia Beach's own"? "Henrico County's own"? "Richmond's own?"  "Pat Robertson's own"?   (Well, maybe not the last one, even if it is the most accurate!)

I find it all a little creepy and if you get too close to Bob, don't be surprised if - he suddenly starts to resemble you!

kindler :: Bobby McSlick: Virginia's Own…Zelig?
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Not exactly
He did more than go to college in Virginia Beach; he lived there, raised his family there, and represented the area in the House of Delegates. And his campaign isn't claiming he's "from" the Richmond area; that's where he lives because he worked in Richmond as Attorney General.

So yes, he is "from" Fairfax (and Fairfax is part of NoVa), and he is also "from" Virginia Beach. Hence those signs are accurate, even if they are frustrating for a candidate who doesn't have any ties or appeal to voters that live there.

Who owns Bob?
Oh, I would never deny that McSlick lived for a number of years in Virginia Beach.  After attending Pat Robertson's university there, he most certainly went on to represent Robertson's views and interests in the General Assembly from there.  This is why "Pat Robertson's own Bob McDonnell" would be the most accurate yard sign.

But to claim in one place he's "Fairfax's own" and in another place "Virginia Beach's own" is a bit like one of those guys with multiple wives in a variety of places.  Who really "owns" him?

[ Parent ]
When you put it that way,
I guess I would have to argue that Maureen owns him. :)

If Creigh Deeds wants to invest in your Pat Robertson sign idea, you may get your wish. However, I think at this point Deeds supporters would just be happy with yard signs of any variety; I haven't seen any, in yards or in medians, since the primary. And make sure to order an extra 25 "Bath County's Own" Creigh Deeds signs.

[ Parent ]
We *know*
he's "our own"; we don't need to be told. After all, Bath County (and Rockbridge and Highland)... is "Deeds Country".

I was "shilling for Dems" today, at the Community Festival in Lexington and was quite surprised at the number of people who came by, carrying signs for Bolling and Ben Cline (House of Representatives for our district) but who stopped and got (and paid for) their "Deeds Country" yard sign to add to their collection. It'll be interesting to see how many people in this area will split their vote and cross the party lines for Deeds. He's not just respected here; he's well-loved, and with good reason.

[ Parent ]
The problem with this
Bob can be from anywhere he wants, of course. And I understand the factual background behind each of these claims.

But on some level, they contradict one another. You may have lived any number of places, and claim identification with a particular geographical demographic based on this, but in the final analysis, you can only be "from" one place.

So this isn't so terrible, but in the context of a campaign that includes as much deception, denial and distortion as McDonnell's has, it is yet more little untruths being offered to depict McDonnell as something he is not.

Is anythingthis guy says or does on the up and up?

The Virginia Democrat

Why can you only be from one place?
Granted, you can only be born in one place, and you can only presently live in one place. But he has undeniable roots in Northern Virginia, and undeniable roots in Virginia Beach. Not liking it doesn't mean it can't happen.

[ Parent ]
Agreed, but...
I'll give you that, Va Blogger. I think aznew is wrong about someone only being from one place, but I also think you're both arguing semantics in tangent to the actual point. It's not that anyone begrudges McDonnell being from somewhere. It's that he's making claims of representation as an attack on Deeds. His signs saying "Nova's Own" aren't about him being "from" Nova, they're about Deeds not being from there, and that's dubious. If it were just about him and where he's from, great, it would suit him to (legitimately) claim to be from as many parts of VA as possible. But using that to try to drive a wedge between Deeds and Nova is disingenuous.

[ Parent ]
No where on his signs does he even mention his opponent. McDonnell has been touting his ties to NoVa and Hampton Roads since he first declared for Governor in 2007, as well as during his Attorney General bid in 2005, and would have continued to do so even if he was facing Moran or McAuliffe in the general election. To say that these signs aren't about McDonnell is just dumb. And even if your flight of fantasy was accurate, what's disingenuous about saying Creigh Deeds isn't from Northern Virginia?

[ Parent ]
So what?
Just what does it mean, "Fairfax's Own" anyway? I saw that sign and thought: and this means.... excactly what?

I suppose Mr. McDonnell's handlers believe it conveys a short-hand message: "I'm familiar with your problems and I will be in your corner in solving them." He has already had ample opportunity to work on those problems when in the legislature, and certainly did not do so (being elected from Hampton Roads, I suppose one could argue that NoVa wasn't his job).  It all seems to me a bit of rather phony ingenuousness. But then, Mr. McDonnell's charm has so far escaped me.

[ Parent ]
Eye of the Beholder
You take a look at the signs and say, "The fact that Bob McDonnell's roots are in Northern Virginia does not impact my opinion of him or my vote." However, other people may have different reactions.

[ Parent ]
Sure, that's the goal...
...but I don't think it'll work in NOVA.  

And here's why -- Northern Virginia is not the type of place where people look at you funny and say "Yer not from 'round here, are ya?"  

To the contrary, this region is teeming with people from as far afield as Somalia or Vietnam or Iran.  So I don't think that the fact that Bob grew up in Fairfax is really going to matter to a whole lot of people around here.

[ Parent ]
Maybe, but there's two arguments:
First, many people DID grow up around here, including suburban Independents who aren't tied to either party and may like McDonnell's close connection.

Second, even those like myself who aren't NoVa natives may appreciate the fact that McDonnell recognizes how important the region is to the state, how crippling our traffic is, etc.

[ Parent ]
That "Fairfax's Own"
might be McDonnell's response to our "Deeds Country" :) Repubs really, really do not like it, especially in the areas (like mine) where it's true, and where love of Creigh is likely to counteract and override the love of party.

During my yesterday's "shilling for Dems" stint, a "gentleman of the opposition" came by and started yelling: "What does this (pointing to the Deeds Country yard sign) mean? Like he thinks it's his country??? That's a laugh! He's gonna find out otherwise, soon! Because we're mad. MAD!!!"

My irrepressible (and warped) sense of humour kicked in immediately and I agreed, with a broad smile: "Indeed, you are. Rabid, even".

PS. When I told the story to my son (who shares my warped sense of humour and adds some extra spice of his own to it), his question was: "And did you tell him that, if we had a robust public option, his shots would be free?"  

[ Parent ]
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