Asymmetrical rivalries.

Two years ago, Amber and I drove down to Virginia Tech for my orientation. The all-day event started with us and couple of hundred of my fellow transfer students sitting down, assembly-style, and addressed by a few speakers over the course of an hour or so. The speeches began, ended, and were laced throughout with a single thread: Virginia Tech is better than UVa. This was stated both as a rah-rah opinion and as a fact, backed up with various statistics to make it meaningful. It was all Amber — a UVa graduate — could do to keep quiet, since it was as clear to me as it was to her that the facts were all either fabricated or distorted.

Virginia Tech campus.

Afterwards, we were puzzled. Why did Virginia Tech feel the need to say such things, and about UVa, in particular? Particularly things so demonstrably false? Yes, there are things that VT does better than UVa (engineering, architecture, agriculture, and computer science all come to mind most readily), but for anybody seeking a liberal arts education, there’s just no way around it: UVa is better. I’m OK with that. UVa turned me down and VT accepted me, because UVa has higher standards for their college of liberal arts, and I didn’t meet those standards.

When Amber went for her transfer orientation at UVa, there was no mention of Virginia Tech.

The conclusion that we came to was this was your basic inferiority complex. This was a room full of liberal arts students disappointed that they didn’t get into UVa, but instead got into their safety school. Tech surely knows full well that UVa is generally a superior school for such pursuits. VT’s repeated attacks on UVa were evidence of UVa’s superiority, bolstered by UVa’s disinterest in reciprocating in their orientations.

I relate this story a) because it’s interesting and b) because it reminds me very much of the current Virginia governor’s election. Republican Jerry Kilgore insists loudly that independent Republican Russ Potts is no threat to him and only harms Democrat Tim Kaine, and yet he and his surrogates constantly attack Potts. By e-mail, by snail mail, and by blog, Republicans put so much effort into discrediting this guy. And yet everything that I’ve heard Potts say seems to make good sense, even when I don’t agree with him. Kaine, on the other hand, has little to say about Potts, and when he does, it’s usually complimentary.

Which school is the better one? I say UVa.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

7 replies on “Asymmetrical rivalries.”

  1. At least we can say with 100 % accuracy that Virginia Tech
    is ineed better than UVa in football, and of course this is all that
    is really important!

  2. Tech architecture is better than UVA’s? Put down the crack pipe.

    It sure seems like Kilgore says little or nothing about Potts. Where has he insisted loudly about him?

    Bloggers laugh at Potts because that’s what bloggers doo. In fact, it’s not too dissimilar from what you did with Kim Tingley, remember?

    Kaine says nice things about Potts because Potts is a Republican running for governor.
    If Potts were a Democrat, you’d hear Kilgore saying the nice things, and Kaine ignoring him.

  3. Tech architecture is better than UVA’s? Put down the crack pipe.

    That’s certainly my understanding. But I’m not an architect. I don’t even play one on TV.

    Bloggers laugh at Potts because that’s what bloggers doo.

    If I were only talking about bloggers, that would be valid or even useful. But I’m not. For example, the RPV and the Kilgore campaigns find cause to mention how Russ Potts is “crazy” or “out of touch” in their e-mail missives at least a couple of times each week. I get e-mail from the VADP/Kaine campaign, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen Potts addressed in this manner, if at all.

    There can be no question that the Kilgore campaign is working extremely hard to discredit Russ Potts. If Potts were actually a bigger threat to Kaine, Kilgore’s campaign would be building up Potts, not tearing him down.

  4. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know exactly why Potts irks me:

    He claims to be a Republican only when it benefits him, then actively works against our party the rest of the time.

    His chairmenship of that Senate committee has been a long, painful, stretch for most pro-life R’s.

  5. To be honest, I’m not even sure why the Republicans are acknowledging Potts. Honestly, I think he is more of a threat to Kaine, but that’s just me.

  6. He claims to be a Republican only when it benefits him, then actively works against our party the rest of the time.

    Reminds me of Joe Lieberman. ;)

    I think he is more of a threat to Kaine, but that’s just me.

    I don’t know what to think. Back in March, I linked to this comment by Paul, in which he makes a good case for Potts hurting Kaine more than Kilgore:

    I think Potts hurts Kaine – badly. Warner won by peeling disaffected Republicans away from Early – the same Republicans who are likely to vote for Potts.

    In a Republican leaning state, Kaine needs these votes. If Potts takes them, then Kaine is through.

    I haven’t seen any data to back this up, but my gut tells me Paul is right.

    OTOH, the Kilgore and Kaine campaigns are surely doing a lot of polling on the matter. To see the Kaine campaign welcoming Potts and the Kilgore campaign trying desperately to discredit him makes it foolish for me to even question that that Kaine campaign thinks that Potts helps them and that the Kilgore campaign thinks that he hurts them.

    I think this is a matter where polling tells the real story. That said, they’d best have some mighty strong polls, because I don’t think polls tells us much of anything this far out. Most Virginians surely figure it’s a couple of guys named K-something, and they’ll worry about it in November.

  7. This reminds me of the relationship between The Cavalier Daily at U.Va. and the tabloid weekly The Declaration — which, as many know, is obsessed with the CD to an unhealthy degree.

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