view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

c-ville weekly hearts goode

So the C-ville Weekly threw its $.02 into the MZM/Goode story. It ain't worth much more than that.

I gotta say, I'm really disappointed in their coverage of the story. While this week's cover features a huge head-shot of Goode with the words "Bad times for Virgil Goode?" splashed across the bottom, I was hard pressed to find much criticism of any substance.

This passage seems to be the thesis:
However, Goode’s association with the lurid scandal could hurt his political fortunes. The affable Goode is immensely popular throughout most of the huge Fifth District, which is roughly the size of New Jersey, having won at least 63 percent of the vote in the last two elections. Even the two Democrats who are vying for his seat say the MZM affair will not be enough, by itself, to sway voters away from Goode. But it may have tarnished his squeaky clean image.
This passage seems to be the conclusion:
It’s too early to tell whether Goode’s constituents care about the scandal. Watkins of the Fifth District Republicans says people will view efforts to equate Goode with Cunningham or Wade as nothing but partisan attacks.
Watkins is actually Tucker Watkins, chairman of the Fifth's Republican committee. The author relies quite heavily on Watkins' remarks elsewhere in the piece:
Tucker Watkins, the Fifth District’s Republican chairman, agrees, predicting that the MZM case will have no impact on Goode’s run in Congress. “You’re talking about a guy who’s worked hard to bring jobs into the District,” Watkins says. “I think they’re barking up a real bad tree on this one.”
And here:
In both Richmond and Washington he developed a reputation as a man of the people (despite a net worth of between $1.2 million and $3.3 million). His office in Rocky Mount is rickety and his car has 270,000 miles on it, according to Watkins.

And here:
“Virgil Goode has a 33-year record in public office,” Watkins says. “Almost nobody questions Congressman Goode’s integrity.”

To further justify this storyline that appears throughout the article, the author includes this bit:
James H. Hershman, a professor at Georgetown University and expert in Virginia politics, thinks only revelations that Goode knowingly broke the law could force the popular congressman out of office. After all, he says, many of Goode’s constituents will see his dealings with MZM as being just that of their loyal Congressman trying to bring much-needed jobs to the Southside.

“He’ll probably survive it politically,” Hershman says.

The author relies on Hershman's assessment to make this bold claim:
But despite Goode’s brush with wonkish infamy, it will probably take more than a confusing Capitol Hill imbroglio to take down the entrenched, five-term incumbent.
It's actually not that confusing, and any reader who bothers with the article can see that right away as the majority of the text is spent summarizing the suspicious activity Goode has engaged in. "Expert" criticism is limited to comments made by Al Weed and Bern Ewert.

In the timeline that follows, the author notes that the initial $3.6 million earmark occurred during an "undisclosed month" in 2003 and then correctly identifies Wade's reimbursement of MZM employees to Goode as occurring in "March." From a previous article I cited from USA TODAY we learn the following:
By the time Goode arranged an initial $3.6 million for the center in 2003, MZM's PAC and its employees had given the congressman nearly $33,000 in campaign contributions, making them at that point by far his biggest financial supporter for the 2004 election.
According to USA TODAY at least, contrary to the Weekly's timeline, the contributions occurred before Goode's earmark arrangement. This bit of information is missing completely from the Weekly's timeline, and is even implied that the opposite is true. Wrong, and completely irresponsible.

Nowhere in the Weekly's article does the author note that these contributions were given within a very short time period, and fails to add that none of the contributors had donated prior to this burst.

Here's what I think the thesis statement of the article ought to be:
Goode did not respond to C-VILLE’s questions, faxed at his request, by press time.
If they had waited, maybe they would have been able to point out some of those questions that Goode curiously refused to answer from the Roanoke Times. Instead, we get drek like this:
Rev. Cecil Bridgeforth of Shiloh Baptist Church in Danville told C-VILLE during the 2004 election season that when federal money comes to the Southside, “people think he’s ridden in on this white steed and he’s given us this money.”

Goode was trying to fill precisely this role, at least in his public machinations, through his relationship with MZM.

Nice. What a man of the people.

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