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EDITORIAL: Deeds dwindles

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Memo to Creigh Deeds - If an admirer compares you to a tested wartime president, that's gratifying. When you compare yourself to Harry Truman, you look small and desperate. Truman faced millions of Japanese soldiers and the choice to use nuclear weapons. You face some transportation problems and a state government that spends more than it takes in.

Bombast has been the story of the last few weeks in the Virginia governor's race. With every dishonest attack ad, Mr. Deeds shrinks. Every editorial from Virginia newspapers pointing out campaign whoppers trims the Democratic gubernatorial candidate a little further. By the time Monday's debate hit the airwaves, Mr. Deeds needed to sit on a phone book to look the moderator in the eye.

From his perch at the big boys' table with his opponent, Republican Bob McDonnell, Mr. Deeds managed to both reconfirm his reputation as a waffler and diminish himself still further, accusing Mr. McDonnell of "lying" in the debate. Once Mr. Deeds made the decision to cross that line, he couldn't even stick by it. Immediately after the showdown, the candidate had second thoughts, musing "maybe that was too strong of a word." Maybe? For a man whose cock-and-bull stories have been called out in major papers all across the commonwealth, it was a word Mr. Deeds doesn't have the stature to utter.

At least he's a stalwart for waffling. Who knows what he really thinks about taxes. He's for them. He's against them. He's against most of them, but he's for them if they're bipartisan. The same incomprehensible fence-straddling goes for other issues, but he gets mad at reporters when they don't understand what he's trying to say.

The whole rationale for his campaign is diminutive: Mr. Deeds wants to be just like Sen. Mark Warner and Gov. Tim Kaine - two popular, moderate Virginia Democrats - when he grows up. If the polls are any guide, when faced with a recession, Virginians would rather have a governor who knows who he is and what his beliefs are. With less than a month before Election Day, it's not clear who Creigh Deeds is. The first primetime debate just reconfirmed what was already obvious.

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