The Washington Post published no preview story for the March for Life on Monday, despite its massive annual size. But it did have room on the front page of the Metro section to review "Macaca" and how Virginia Republicans "might" (the Post hopes) be ruined in state elections this fall for their insensitivity.
On Page B-4, the Post did have a traffic diagram with the headline "Streets to Close for Antiabortion March." The March is rebutted right underneath the diagram, listing ''ABORTION RIGHTS EVENTS." They reported Planned Parenthood will "toast the Roe vs. Wade anniversary with a benefit tonight featuring actress Kathleen Turner," and NARAL Pro-Choice America "plans a benefit Thursday at the Omni Shoreham Hotel."
On the front page of the Metro section was a story by Macaca specialist Tim Craig headlined "Offensive GOP Words Might Speak Louder Than Va. Transit Deal." It had the typical Post thesis that social conservatives (the "far right") are destroying the Virginia GOP:
First came "macaca," followed by Virginia Sen. George Allen's angry response to a question about his Jewish heritage.
Then U.S. Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., a Republican whose district stretches from Charlottesville to Danville, generated headlines over his comments about keeping Muslims out of Congress.
And now Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr. (R-Hanover) is on the defensive after saying last week that blacks "should get over" slavery instead of pushing for an official state apology. He compounded the incident by asking, "Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?
Taken together, the string of perceived racial and ethnic insults has led some Northern Virginia Republicans to say the GOP's image has been badly tarnished. They wonder whether the party's candidates will have trouble winning votes this fall in the diverse, well-educated region even if an agreement on transportation funding is reached.
"It is important that Northern Virginia Republicans be able to come home with something meaningful accomplished with transportation. However, that alone won't settle the November elections," said John Mason, the former Republican mayor of Fairfax City. "The tenor of the debate and the verbal mistakes that have been made will come back to haunt some Republicans in Northern Virginia."
The GOP's image problems in Northern Virginia, which mirror its troubles nationally, are magnified by the agenda of social conservatives, who are pushing legislation to ban abortion, kick illegal immigrants out of public schools, make it harder for married couples to divorce and redefine adultery.
Moderates say they are worried that their party still hasn't learned the lessons of Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's win in 2005 and Democratic Sen. James Webb's victory last year.
"There is an erosion of Republicans" in Northern Virginia, said Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr., a Republican who represents the McLean area. "The Republicans are taking these far right-wing stances, and it's doing them in."
It's one thing to open up your pages to every complaint the moderate Republicans have, and suggest that Republicans might be suffering in northern Virginia (which is certainly true in the Washington suburbs in the last two elections). But then Craig even added liberal Democrats to the mix, like Arlington's openly gay Rep. Adam Ebbin, wondering "People are asking, how many loose cannons are there in the Republican Party?"
Answer: as many as the Washington Post can publicize.