Dave Marsden Causes Cry for a Robert Whitehead

Paul Simon sang “Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you…”

Recent comments by my delegate, David Marsden, cause me to cry “Where have you gone, Robert Whitehead? A commonwealth turns its lonely eyes to you…”

You see, one human quality that annoys me to the nth degree is the person who tells folks how things should be done, and then refuse to live up to the standards they have pronounced.

Dave Marsden (D-Burke), my delegate, did that recently in The Burke Connection (issue for September 6-12, 2007).  He derides the recent transportation bill, then says he voted for it only because it was the only alternative.  He attacks those who sign “no tax pledges” because although no one likes taxes they are a necessary evil, and signing a no tax pledge means a legislator has “substituted your allegiance to the Commonwealth with a promise to a special interest group and its ideology.

Of course, this offers little cover for Delegate Marsden, who as one who has not signed a “no tax pledge” presumably had much more latitude to introduce and advocate for higher taxes. Of course, he fails to talk about what taxes he thinks should be raised. While claiming that a 1.5 cent tax increase on a gallon of gas would have raised the same $65 million that the abuser fees are attempting to raise, he never comes out and says he supports it. Marsden certainly provides no info to suggest that he introduced a bill to make this happen.

This really sounds like a whole lot of CYA to me.  If Delegate Marsden thought taxes should have been raised, then perhaps he should have introduced the bill. 

That’s why we need a Robert Whitehead back in the legislature.

Whitehead is greatly lost to the pages of history. He was a native of Nelson County, a UVa man, Commonwealth’s Attorney of Nelson County from 1933 to 1941, and a member of the House of delegates from 1942 until his death in 1960 at the age of 62. He was an articulate critic of the Byrd Machine and a loyal Democrat, choosing not to run for the democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1957 for fear of splitting the party and electing a Republican (Ted Dalton narrowly lost to Thomas Stanley in 1953, and was running again).

However, his real reputation was built as a watchdog of the state budget. Each session, as soon as the state budget was issued Whitehead would take the huge hard copy document to his Richmond motel room and seemingly absorbed every bit of data contained therein. He was the man who pointed out spending foolishness and taxing silliness. He fought for funds for education and was able through his voluminous knowledge of state government to push the Byrd Machine reps to think about the voters needs when budgeting and not to focus solely on having a surplus every year.

Whitehead sought to develop and then deploy a knowledge of how the state works, what needed to be done, and why. His knowledge and his eloquence made him a dangerous and respected foe of the Byrdites on the floor of the House of Delegates. His death was mourned by friend and foe alike, and his passing was considered a blow to the governance of Virginia.

Compare that to how things work now…

Our elected officials will not say the words “raise” and “taxes” in the same sentence. One bunch goes on about how we need more revenue to meet state needs. The other bunch simply say we don’t need to raise taxes. Neither side is too specific about the “what’s”, “why’s”, and “how much?” issues. Marsden is a perfect example, talking in glittering generalities about what needs to be done and what others have done to mess things up without offering much detail about how he would address the situation. In fact, his net is not cast nearly far enough. It isn’t just the “no tax pledge” folks who do not offer a realistic appraisal of state needs and state revenues to support their cause, it is also those who choose to blame and point fingers without offering their own appraisal of state needs and state revenues.

Delegate Marsden does not bear the blame alone. He has many compatriots in partisan quiesence…he is simply the one to most recently to commit his lack of contribution to print.

We need more Robert Whitehead’s in Richmond. We need more folks who will not only say we should run government like a business, but more folks who will actually work to make that happen. We need folks who will offer a state program based on a specific analysis of where we are, where we want to go, how we will get there, and how much it will cost.

The election rhetoric on both sides doesn’t reveal many who are doing that…in fact, it seems to reveal more candidates like Hoot, who in the recent debate (as reported in the Burke Connection) repeatedly declined to offer specific remedies to state problems. When asked how she would have voted on the recent transportation bill, Hoot refused to answer, claiming the question was “hypothetical”:

“Had I been there, I would have worked for a better compromise,” said Oleszek. “I cannot answer a question about a hypothetical situation.”

I really cannot see how she could say that with a straight face….and they wonder why I call her “Hoot”. Asking how she would vote on a specific bill is not at all hypothetical…and suggesting she would have worked for a better compromise when every single democratic state Senator voted against the bill suggests there was little room for or work done toward compromise, but was a really nice general answer.

When Hoot said businesses employing illegal immigrants should be punished, she was asked if she had a specific proposal. Her reply? She didn’t have one, and she needed “to do more research”.

Of course, the Cooch is one of the folks Marsden was attacking, not wanting to “raise taxes”, but agreeing to a funding plan that focuses on abuser fees-which, if it has the unintended consequence of causing better, safer driving, then the revenue to be recognized from fines for traffic abuse will be lower than anticipated, and the funding issue is still unresolved.

I do hope they get this DNA cloning going much faster, because from what I am seeing from those in or aspiring to the legislature these days we need to get Robert Whitehead back in the House of Delegates as soon as possible…because lord knows there do not seem to be a lot of folks in Richmond these days willing to take a stand that focuses on needs of the state-as opposed to the needs of their political aspirations.


4 thoughts on “Dave Marsden Causes Cry for a Robert Whitehead

  1. Thanks for the interesting post on Robert Whitehead. I am his only grandchild, and my young son found this article while doing an internet search on his great-grandfather. I agree that we need more statesmen like my grandfather and less partisanship.

    One small correction— Robert Whitehead was a native of Nelson County, not Lynchburg. He graduated from EC Glass High School, but boarded there for a year in order to finish high school. His brother, Paul Whitehead, was also an attorney and lived in Lynchburg for many years.

  2. Pingback: Dug Out Dave Marsden-The Absence of Courage « Renaissance Ruminations

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