Republican bloggers are running for cover today, working overtime to try to discredit a photograph of a Bob McDonnell campaign booth apparently decorated with a Confederate flag. The picture was posted by Ben Tribbett of Not Larry Sabato. Republicans claim that the flag was actually part of an adjacent booth's display.
What none of these Republican bloggers have addressed is the underlying issue: does Bob McDonnell hold Neo-Confederate views? And if he does, what--if any--impact should that have on his candidacy for the governor's mansion?
These questions are very relevant given the current direction of the Republican Party, both nationally and in Virginia. McDonnell has stated that States Rights--often used as code for Neo-Confederate ideology--will be at the center of his campaign. Bill Bolling--Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor--was photographed wearing the Confederate flag in 2005. Is he still willing to wear the Confederate flag? Maybe someone should ask Bolling about what the Confederate flag means to him.
George Allen and Jim Gilmore both espoused Neo-Confederate ideas. Does Virginia really want a repetition of Allen and Gilmore?
Not so long ago Rick Perry, the Republican governor of Texas, said that Texas might secede from the United States. Does Bob McDonnell believe that Virginia should secede from the United States? How would that reflect on McDonnell's patriotism?
The explosive reaction from the right wing blogosphere is a kind of "tell." Ben Tribbett has touched a nerve.