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Bob McDonnell Apologizes, Admits "Mistake" on Confederate History Month Proclamation

by: lowkell

Wed Apr 07, 2010 at 18:08:16 PM EDT

NBC 12 political reporter Ryan Nobles tweets the breaking news:
Now McDonnell: "The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and..I apologize to any..Virginian who has been offended."

BREAKING: Bob McDonnell has issued revised proclamation on Confederate History Month that includes slavery. Calls ommission a "'mistake". Mo adds, "I wonder what Romney, Pawlenty, Palin and other 2012 GOPers think of their buddy Bob McDonnell's Confederate proclamation."

Incredible national attention given to McDonnell Confederate month flap. What impact could it have on his nat'l political future?

This comes after Tim Kaine said, "the ommission of slavery from the McDonnell proclamation: 'offends millions of Americans of all races.'" McDonnell's retreat also follows the story going national, Sheila Johnson condemning him, and Terry McAuliffe saying he's "disappointed that Governor McDonnell has decided to focus on this divisive issue."

UPDATE: Mo Elleithee tweets, "Amazing how quickly this killed his 'rising star' buzz."

UPDATE #2: Here's McDonnell's statement, which finally gets it right after relentless pounding for the past couple days. Again, better late than never?

The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of "profound regret" for the Commonwealth's history of slavery, which was the right thing to do.

the rest of the statement is after the "flip"
lowkell :: Bob McDonnell Apologizes, Admits "Mistake" on Confederate History Month Proclamation
When I signed the Proclamation designating February as Black History Month, and as I look out my window at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, I am reminded that, even 150 years later, Virginia's past is inextricably part of our present. The Confederate History Month proclamation issued was solely intended to promote the study of our history, encourage tourism in our state in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and recognize Virginia's unique role in the story of America. The Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved the establishment of a Sesquicentennial American Civil War Commission to prepare for and commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the War, in order to promote history and create recognition programs and activities.

As Virginians we carry with us both the burdens and the blessings of our history. Virginia history undeniably includes the fact that we were the Capitol of the Confederacy, the site of more battlefields than any other state, and the home of the signing of the peace agreement at Appomattox. Our history is perhaps best encapsulated in a fact I noted in my Inaugural Address in January: The state that served as the Capitol of the Confederacy was also the first in the nation to elect an African-American governor, my friend, L. Douglas Wilder. America's history has been written in Virginia. We cannot avoid our past; instead we must demand that it be discussed with civility and responsibility. During the commemoration of the Civil War over the next four years, I intend to lead an effort to promote greater understanding and harmony in our state among our citizens."

In addition the Governor announced that the following language will be added to the Proclamation:

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history...

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Dark days for the Old Dominion (4.00 / 2)
Never thought I'd see the day when Virginia's governor was apologizing for not realizing how bad slavery was.  

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McDonnell and Cooch are a disgrace (0.00 / 0)
to Virginia.  

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[ Parent ]
Sad for Virginia (0.00 / 0)
How sad for the Commonwealth that I was so proud of in 1989 when this Confederate battlefield of the Civil War elected the first African-American governor in the nation's history. From Doug Wilder to a protege of Pat Robertson. How far we have fallen.

Now, it has elected a far-right little fellow who at least has the decency to retreat when he makes a grave error in his ambitious plans for his future.

I hope those who have defended him and the original declaration on this blog take direction from their leader and apologize. I won't hold my breath.

Good. Hopefully that'll be the last we need to hear about this nonsense (0.00 / 0)
You guys got what you wanted - McDonnell has apologized and recognized he should have included a mention of slavery. Can we get back to substantive issues now?

Elaine, I apologize for attempting to defend the governor from what I considered unfair attacks. If that offended you, I'm sorry.

[ Parent ]
Of course, in apologizing.... (0.00 / 0)
...Bob McDonnell just undercut EVERYTHING you've been saying here all day. How does it feel to be thrown under the bus? Painful, no?

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[ Parent ]
Not at all (0.00 / 0)
If the governor believes he made a major error, that's fine. I don't think he did, but that's just my opinion.

I'm happy he's chosen to take this route, however, as I think it undercuts all of your claims that he's a closet racist.  

[ Parent ]
I never claimed he's a "closet racist" (0.00 / 0)
If you're going to outright lie about me, I'm going to ban you.

Follow me on Twitter. Follow Blue Virginia on Facebook and Twitter.

[ Parent ]
Then what does (0.00 / 0)
calling him "Pat Robertson's Manchurian Candidate" mean? What does "I guess Bob McDonnell's decided if he can't return Virginia to the 1950s, he'll take us back to the 1860s. At least, back to the Confederate part of the 1860s, not to the messy Union or slavery parts. Heh." mean?

It sounds like you're arguing that Bob wants to go back to the days when racism was both acceptable and expected in Virginia (1950s) or when it was the law of the land (1860). Do you see where I might get the impression you were saying that about him?

If you want to ban me for drawing the conclusion you seem to be implying that speaks volumes about your willingness to engage in forthright debate.  

[ Parent ]
McDonnell panders to homophobes, segregationists and white supremicists (4.00 / 1)
and Brian refuses to acknowledge it. Just excuses, attempted deflections, justifications and obfuscations.  Your credibility is shot here and on NLS, Brian.

[ Parent ]
Agreed, it's completely gone. (0.00 / 0)
Of course, he was in the Bush Administration (speech writer for Elaine Chao), so I'm not sure what else we would expect. As far as I'm concerned, if you worked in that administration you basically have no credibility on anything.

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[ Parent ]
I didn't have any credibility with you all to begin with (3.00 / 1)
As Lowell notes, I was a member of the Bush Administration, so I must be as evil and manipulative as the rest of the hideous demons who served with me.

I don't expect to have credibility over here. Despite the fact that I'm honest and do my best to be fair, I don't expect to be treated that way by Democrats anymore on the internet. Perhaps in person, but I know better when it comes to the internet.  

[ Parent ]
The Bush Administration was filled with liars... (0.00 / 0)
...bullies, thugs, and people who specialize in Wormtongue-like doubletalk. With a few exceptions, like Colin Powell (although, even there, I'd verify every word he said), I don't think I'd listen to anyone in that administration on anything ever again.

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[ Parent ]
Well, that's unfortunate (3.00 / 2)
Because there were plenty of fine people who weren't liars, bullies, thugs, or Lord of the Rings characters. It's unfortunate that instead of treating everyone with respect until they've given you a reason not to, you've got a blanket policy.

I would like to be an exception - but if you can't get over your prejudice, I understand. Won't be the first time I've dealt with it.  

[ Parent ]
So what? You're into masochism? Spare us the sophistry and self pity. (0.00 / 0)
If you had resigned at any of a number of appropriate junctures over the 8 years of that travesty, you might have had a chance at credibility here.  But always being in full spin mode is wasting all of our time and yours. Or did AEI fire you too?

Come clean or move on.

[ Parent ]
I didn't join until April of 2008 (0.00 / 0)
and I stayed until Obama fired all of us. I was Elaine Chao's labor liaison and a senior speechwriter.

I've got nothing to come clean about. I run my own company where I do maritime lobbying and general government relations stuff, and I'm in law school at night.  

[ Parent ]
And you're proud of everything that Administration did? (0.00 / 0)
Choa's treatment of unions met with your approval in all respects?

That's what "come clean" means boy-o.  Admit your administration's sins, well, at least a few dozen of them.  

Otherwise, I can freely skip you postings without hesitation as nothing but spin.  

[ Parent ]
Did I say that? (0.00 / 0)
I never said any of that. I was specifically brought aboard because I was one of a small number of pro-union Republicans, I came out of the union movement, and I could express the unions opinions to her and her opinions to them through a moderated both sides knew and trusted. That was my job.

I've criticized the administration for the handling of the Iraq war, for Katrina, for a number of personnel choices like Harriet Miers, for some economic policies - mainly labor related - and the like. I don't think Bush could do no wrong, and the record clearly shows that.

I'm nobody's shill.  

[ Parent ]
examples, son, specifics - where did you and Choa part ways? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
I didn't support a number of the labor related rulemakings (0.00 / 0)
Specifically, I didn't support the T-1 regulation, nor did I support some of the LM-2 rules we put out. I didn't like some of the stuff that came out of OLMS, but I recognize that for the most part they were doing their jobs and they did route out a lot of corruption that should have been removed.

I was the senior staff voice for labor, and on more than one occasion I registered my objections to what was going on.

And stop with the condescension. I don't care how old you are, unless you're Bill Schoeneman, I'm not your son.  

[ Parent ]
So whose supersensitive now? It's a Southern tradition for elders to address all male youngin's as "son" (0.00 / 0)
And "boy-o" is an Irish term that's similar to "blood" or "brother"

But I wouldn't dream of being condescending.  

[ Parent ]
I've got a name (0.00 / 0)
That's the best thing to call me by. Save the traditional terms for people you actually know.  

[ Parent ]
Is this the game we're playing now? (0.00 / 0)
Considering that virtually every post you make reads like a DPVA press release (if it actually isn't one), I'm not sure you're the best person to make the argument that someone from the other political party lacks credibility.

[ Parent ]
Unfair? (0.00 / 0)
Actually, your political hero doesn't support your position, does he? He said his action was not defensible. I understand that you are a staunch Republican. That's fine. However, please, in the future don't undercut what may be your valid contributions to a discussions by trying to defend the indefensible. You have more to offer than that.

I admire your loyalty to Bob McDonnell and the GOP. It's better when you save your defenses to issues that can be defended.

Perhaps I will write an entry about what the body politic has lost when we don't have the input of a rational, fair conservative viewpoint. We get better governance when it is part of our national discussion. Instead, we get Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the Party of No in the Congress. Sad for all of us.

By the way, I am in no way offended. You would be surprised what it takes to offend me.  :-)

[ Parent ]
That's not what he said, Elaine (0.00 / 0)
He didn't say it was indefensible. And my position has simply been that the fact that he did not include slavery does not make him a racist, nor was the inclusion of slavery critically important to the statement.

I wasn't defending the indefensible.  If I were trying to defend slavery, or if he'd said slavery wasn't important, then I'd be defending the indefensible, and I wouldn't have done that in the first place because I don't believe it.

It would be much easier to have the input of rational, fair conservatives, like me, if I wasn't accused of being a racist, told I belong to a racist political party, accused of "defending the indefensible" when I've done no such thing, called a troll, told that my opinion is wrong, and am accused of outright lying and making ad hominem attacks. I've done none of that. All of I've said is that this whole issue is overblown and McDonnell isn't a racist.

If we both sides would stop jumping to conclusions and attributing evil thoughts and desires to the other side, the body politic would be in much better shape than it is. I've said that multiple times, most recently in the political violence discussion over on TC.  

[ Parent ]
The War Aspects... (0.00 / 0)
I just saw an interview on CNN in which Bob McDonnell said he made his "grave mistake" because he was "trying to focus on the War."

What does the man think was at the heart of the war? Did my ancestors simply want to have a good fight? Please, Mr. McDonnell. The war was all about slavery and its perpetuation. State's rights was simply the vehicle that was used to keep what many at that time called "our peculiar institution." Peculiar, indeed...and vile.

I will give my home state this much. The first vote for secession was in the negative. When President Lincoln asked Virginia to provide troops to answer the attack by South Carolina troops, the secession convention voted to leave the union. That's when the counties that now form West Virginia "seceded" from Virginia.

The history is clear. Virginia tried to help its fellow southern states keep the institution of slavery.  

There was more to the war than the cause (0.00 / 0)
There was more about the war than slavery. Four years worth of fighting and suffering. That was the price of emancipation, and I think it was worth it. But there's nothing wrong with spending some time focusing on that aspect of the war, rather than on slavery. Both are important.  

[ Parent ]
See the Above Comment by Me (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
War Details (0.00 / 0)
I don't need to be told that the war was about more than the causes. I have in my possession the watch of my g-g-grandmother who raised three children - the oldest 5 years old -  after her husband was killed at Second Manassas. I walked the route of his company's attack on that battle trying to understand where he might have fallen. His grave lies somewhere on that ground.

I have walked the stone wall at Gettysburg where another g-g-grandfather fell during Pickett's Charge. I have visited the place where yet another g-g-grandfather was wounded at Antietam.

I have visited Petersburg battlefield, where still another g-g-grandfather was captured as the defenses there crumbled. I know quite well the heritage that is Virginia's history.

There is much in Virginia that is integral to American history. It should be promoted as a place for tourists to visit. However, failing to remember that the reason that my ancestors - and thousands of other - suffered so much is to tell our children a lie. We can love this nation and revere the actions of our ancestors without whitewashing our history.

That's the last I have to say about this particular subject with you, Brian.

[ Parent ]
No one is failing to remember the reasons, Elaine (0.00 / 0)
Not me, not the Governor before or after the statement, and not anyone who has any knowledge of the subject.

It's great that you have so many tangible stories about your family. All I have are names, census records, and one report of my g-g-g-grand daddy running when he was drafted into the local Grayson self defense force. I wish I could point to as many thing as you.

Don't for a moment, however, think that I understand less how slavery affected all of us who have family who survived the war in the Commonwealth. I certainly do. I think we can agree on that.

Where we disagree is on the blame we place on the Governor for failing to mention slavery. You think it was willful. I don't.  

[ Parent ]
Brian, it's not about wilfulness (4.00 / 1)
It's about a blind spot that is simply inexcusable.  Slavery is too central to the Civil War to not be mentioned.

Gov.Bob admitted the blind spot in his proclamation and wisely fixed it.  The spanking you're receiving here is for failing to make the same admission and just move on.  

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

[ Parent ]
He has more than a blindspot, inmo (4.00 / 2)
He doesn't just have a blindspot. The ethical lapses by McDonnell in this episode are amazing. For example:
--By claiming slavery was a minor part of the Civil War, he Whitwashed (deceived) about US history. (His claim is also outrageous). If it were the honoring of "history," he would have included all the fallen of the Civil War.  
--He only relented because he got so much grief from all sides and the media.  It wasn't because it was the right thing to do. The man has further ambitions.
--He would hoist the confederacy on a symbolic flag pole despite the hurt it caused and causes to so many.  
-He pandered to racists.
--He pandered to those honoring treachery, secession, treason and sedition, and therefor he implicitly legitimized same.
--He might as well go sing (fa-la-la) in civil war reenactments with George Macaca Allen.  

Day after day this administration in Richmond shows itself to be heading an unwelcoming and hostile state for those whom Republicans like to marginalize.  

There's nothing in the middle of the road except yellow stripes and dead armadillos (Jim Hightower). PS I'm on Twitter here.

[ Parent ]
Proof we make a difference (4.00 / 3)
This is the second or third time we have gotten Gov Bob to retreat, if you count the anti-gay discrimination issue and his appointment of a Commerce Secretary with blatant conflicts of interest.

What we do here -- and in protests and calls to our elected officials -- is not idle chatter. It makes a difference and we must keep the pressure on. This is our government too and we must continue to act on our share in it.  

For a Sustainable Virginia. Now on Twitter.

Glad (0.00 / 0)
I was someone who was disappointed.  So I'm glad an apology was given.  I realize that someone like Brian wasn't bothered by this, but I was.  Disappointed is a very good word.  In my case, I wasn't personally offended, but it didn't take too much imagination to understand why someone else could be.  I'm glad that McDonnell recognized the validity of the feelings of many Virginians, regardless of what he personally feels.  And I'm glad that I took the time today to voice that disappointment -- to join with people who helped the picture of Virginia's complicated Civil War history a tiny bit more into focus.

So, that said, I'm going to go and dust my Mort Kunstler print of "Lee's Lieutenants" that hangs in my upstairs hallway and move on to other topics.

LOL at the thought of this affecting his national stature (0.00 / 0)
McDonnell for anything in 2012 is a fanciful idea, but in seven years, you think this will have any meaningful impact, especially considering how McDonnell defused it?

If by "defused" (0.00 / 0)
you mean "turned himself & the state into a national laughingstock," then yes.

Read more at and follow me on Twitter

[ Parent ]
The question isn't effect, it's staying power. (0.00 / 0)
First, I question who considers either the state or McDonnell a laughingstock, who wasn't already inclined to offer a knee-jerk rant against any action McDonnell took on any issue.

Second, this has been an incredibly slow news week, and the usual posturing combined with McDonnell's contrite apology means that this will be done with and forgotten in no more than a week's time.

That's what I mean by defused. Obviously McDonnell is no hero in your eyes, but I don't think there's anything he could do to change that.

[ Parent ]
The irony of this son of Notre Dame being a knothead on this issue is that the "Fightin' Irish" (0.00 / 0)
earned their nickname in a series of brawls between ND undergrads with the KKK in South Bend in the '20s.

So how does this fool honor his ND heritage?

By pandering to a group of segregations and white supremecists.

Does this sawed off show pony even know what "NINA" means?

Frank Leahy would be ashamed of you boy-o.  

I supported Brian on the issue on blaming Cooch for things not of Cooch's making (0.00 / 0)
But Brian certainly defended the indefensible on this one!

Brian seemed to have had a sense of decency, fairness and rationality, but political loyalties often trumped those senses; wingnut welfare seems to corrupt those who accept it.

It reminds me of Lord Acton's theory that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Come on, Tom (0.00 / 0)
I'm no different than I was before. The fact that I didn't think this was the end of the world doesn't make me less decent or fair.

I'm still a Republican, at the end of the day.  

[ Parent ]
Yes it does (0.00 / 0)
excusing pandering to bigots, segregations and white supremecists makes you less decent and less fair.

That you refuse to see this is sad.

I have Republicans relatives and they are nauseated by the homophobic and racially tone deaf moves of this knot-headed son of ND.  

[ Parent ]
Martin, you obviously haven't been reading much of what I've written (0.00 / 0)
I was the loudest Republican blogger criticizing Cuccinelli's anti-gay letter. I have no patience for bigots, segregationists or white supremacists, and they have no place in my Republican party.

I didn't see what happened here in racial tones, but a lot of people did. McDonnell recognized this and apologized. I'm glad he did that. But I still don't believe what he was doing was pandering or somehow racist. You disagree, but then you seem willing to believe the worst of people, even those you don't know. That's unfortunate.  

[ Parent ]
I know what I read (0.00 / 0)
That you failed to see the racist nature of this proclamation issued to placate a group notorious for its segregationist and white supremecist positions reveals much about you.

These people and the xenophobes, like von Spakovsky, define your party today, sadly.

[ Parent ]
Brian: (4.00 / 1)
"I'm no different than I was before. The fact that I didn't think this was the end of the world doesn't make me less decent or fair.
I'm still a Republican, at the end of the day."

It wasn't the end of the world for me either, and if you noticed, I did not jump into the fray as did so many other Democrats!

However, you really were defending the indefensible and got thrown under the bus by your own side, because in the end they finally recognized that what they had done was both politically and morally indefensible; your political loyalty trumped both your commonsense and moral sense!    

When I could no longer accept the Republican racist "Southern Strategy" of the late-1960s, I left the party with no regrets. I worked then for a
Republican Congressman from Illinois and my action cost me a job on a Congressional Committee.

[ Parent ]
Recently, I've grown very concerned about Virginia. (4.00 / 1)
The Governor and Lt. Governor are extremists.  That was evident to me before they were elected.  I'm sad and disappointed that Virginians seem unable to get it right  and leave right alone.  I am a native Virginian, and my ancestors came to Virginia in the 1740's, in time for the Revolution, the War of 1812 and the War between the States.  Virginia's slave history is about the worst in the country, and the state continued to treat black people as less than human for many years.  I hope Virginians are smart enough to make these one-term "servants."
Right now, they certainly aren't serving the state.  


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