At precisely noon this coming Saturday, Virginia's Governor- elect, Timothy Kaine, will become the first Virginia Governor since Thomas Jefferson to be inaugurated at the old Capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia in Williamsburg (pictured at left). The current Lt. Governor, Mr. Kaine is a Democrat, and most likely a liberal in moderate sheep's clothing. But he is also an honorable man, a good man, and the best man of the three offered for selection by the voters. So be it.
The inauguration itself is merely an "event," as is the "swearing in" of the new and returning Delegates and Senators this morning. There will be multiple balls and galas to attend over the course of the week, not only in Williamsburg, but also in Richmond, Virginia's modern capital. (Yes, my wife will hate my guts and livers before the week is out.) Although the whole inaugural show is worthy of the attention of non-brain-dead Virginians, it is not where the sauce of state politics is stirred.
For the last week or so, I have attended at least one, sometimes two or three breakfast events, held by the various office-holders and office-holders-elect as we ramp up for the coming General Assembly Session (which starts next week). By eight or nine or ten that same night, I have attended at least two or three more caucuses, meet-and-greets, and get-to-knows. It's all about you offering hearty hand-clasping congratulations to, and expecting meaty thank yous from, the legislators (and soon-to-be-legislators) for all the "support" that has been provide by you and your clients during the recently concluded election.
You, of course, have played both sides of the aisle. And they, of course, know that. But now your quiver is full. You've got your agenda. You've polished your legislation. You've sized up the opposition, prepared your concessions (if necessary) and fortified your redoubts. Now begins that perfect dance of propriety and dead-panned self-interest, choreographed with such earnestness, decorum and grace as to truly astonish those who have only frolicked in the cooler, more direct, climes of impersonal "business." You are there only to "educate" the lawmakers, and they are there only to listen, without any guilt, and without any promise, as to what it is your clients want. There is no "deal" to be made. Only friendships.
Of course, one has to visit the soirÃ©es thrown by both sides equally, and display similar conviction for each party's "agenda" (although, outside of the issue of taxes, there is little to distinguish them). As a rule, always greet the elder statesmen first; they are already your "friends" and they'll know where you'll be coming from. Prime targets are those that wield Committee Chairmanships. These friends may not agree with everything you say in support of your measure or measures, and they certainly won't commit to anything at this early stage. But they will listen to you out of courtesy, and with the respect that comes from knowing that you will support them yet again. Your clients' reputations preceed you.
Next approach those who have been re-elected. They are no doubt breathing sighs of relief, and should be made to feel as though their continued service was, most deservedly, a certainty; especially since your clients supported them so fervently. Let them know that, as friends, you will mention their names to the aforementioned elder statesmen, with whom you were just speaking, as "solid" whatevers. But never attempt to push a choice on that Chairman for any spots on his committee. Subtlety is rewarded in these latitudes. Brashness or overreaching will find you persona non grata, and your clients sunk.
Finally, seek out the new faces. Scared as they are (and should be) of making any alliances before they even take the oath of office, your only goal is to soothe and relax them. You know more about the process than they, so you offer your support and assurance that they will be well received by others with whom you have long relationships, and with whom you were just speaking. Make these persons feel happy and safe as friends. Ask for nothing. One day you will need to educate these new faces, but you should take your time so as to not scare them off.
Perhaps most importantly, you should make sure to kiss your enemies in front of your champions. This simple act makes it so much easier for those so empowered to feel better about making their own decisions in favor your clients, and yet still feel open to accepting the support of your opposition at a later date as their friends. An amicable solution is always the sugar in the coffee.
And so, dear friends, for the next few months your otherwise uncommonly insensible blogging host will once again turn into a sensible, but common, political whore. But please remember: I only do it for what's right. And for what's just. And for what's deserved. And for what's good for the children.
And may God have mercy on my soul.