McDonnell’s national security credentials have come into question, thanks to his mishandling of a bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly that disassociates the commonwealth from the military detention of al-Qaeda or its terrorist affiliates who happen to be U.S. citizens. The bill, HB 1160, would effectively bar Virginia state troopers from arresting a terrorist like Anwar al-Awlaki if they knew he would be put in military detention. McDonnell didn’t raise a finger to stop this odious legislation as it made its way through the Virginia legislature. As a result, it passed 97-3 in the House of Delegates and 39-1 in the state Senate.
If the ragged neo-con remnant is against you, Bob, then you must be doing something right. Even when that opposition runs the line between hysteria and hilarity:
Compare McDonnell’s inaction to last week’s fight over terrorist detention legislation on Capitol Hill. When Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) offered an amendment that would have barred military detention for al-Qaeda terrorists captured in the United States, Republican leaders rallied the GOP caucus to defeat the amendment. Thanks to their efforts, only 19 Republicans voted in favor. By contrast, all but four of the 87 elected Republicans in Richmond voted to have the state employees of Virginia lay down their arms in the war against al-Qaeda. That is a failure of leadership. It is also a serious blow to McDonnell’s chances of becoming the next vice president of the United States.
But for those of those who do not see terrorists lurking in behind every tree, shrub and vegetable stand in the commonwealth, what McDonnell did was rather old-fashioned, even quaint: He signed a bill that recognizes there are limits to federal power, and that sometimes a state must exercise its reserved powers to see that those limits are not exceeded.
That’s the kind of leadership the nation could use a lot more of.
Norman Leahy blogs at Bearing Drift. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.