by Paul Goldman
RICHMOND, Va. – As predicted months ago, the inevitable has happened.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell junked Plan A (refusing to admit to anything, apologize for anything, return anything) and junked Plan B (just paying back the loans to Jonnie Williams) and instead he went with Plan C (returning Williams’ gifts also).
We still don’t know all the details and in that regard, we suspect there will be a catch here of sorts also.
That means there will be Plan D in the future. But the importance of today’s admission by the governor needs to be appreciated.
Had the governor gone for Plan C from JUMP STREET – returning the gifts, the loans, make an apology and ask for a second chance – he could have avoided much of the political damage.
Americans tend forgive this kind of stuff provided a governor with a clean reputation puts it ALL out there at once, apologizes and asks for a second chance.
McDonnell had a solid reputation among all voters except for the most partisan Democrats. All he needed to do was count on Republicans and Independents to give him a second chance and they would have — no sweat.
This is why I said Plan A made no political sense.
Since he dropped Plan A for Plan C, it tells me the original Plan A strategy of stonewalling was not required legally in terms of the alleged investigation at the federal and state criminal level.
Put another way, Governor McDonnell either got some of the worst political/legal advice of any Virginia chief executive in modern times, or he overruled good advisors with some of the worst judgment of anyone in his office.
Either way, going to Plan C tells me the governor now realizes he made a huge mistake and likely suffered irreversible damage to his reputation for no necessary reason.
Plan C is too late in this regard, even if it is a full gift return.
The toothpaste is out of the tube.
The political damage has been suffered.
You don’t get to rewind the clock and start over.
The game is played in real-time.
Taking the gifts hurt politically, but refusing to “man up” at the start, give it all back and ask for a second chance is what caused the permanent damage.
We all make mistakes.
But when they are carried on the front page of the state’s daily papers week after week, when they are carried as lead television and radio and blog news stories week after week at the start of the news cycle, then a governor has to face reality.
As Joe Louis advised, you can run, but you can’t hide.
Whoever convinced the governor to stonewall should be sued for malpractice. If the governor himself made the decision, then he has no one to blame but himself.
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.