Just five months ago, Republican Robert McDonnell was the toast of his party. In swamping his Democratic opponent, the newly elected governor of Virginia flipped the commonwealth more than 20 points from the margin Barack Obama carried the state with in 2008. Soon, McDonnell was being mentioned for a spot on the GOP’s national ticket in 2012. Now, not so much. McDonnell was the victim of some bad staff work, bad politics, bad thinking or all of the above in declaring April “Confederate History Month” in Virginia — without a boilerplate-like denunciation of slavery. In fact, McDonnell’s proclamation didn’t mention slavery at all, and boy did he draw flak for that. Some critics declared him a tool of the neo-Confederate movement. McDonnell backpedaled and re-issued the proclamation with a strong condemnation of slavery. And he apologized. No matter. Talk of 2012 has quieted down, the episode proving that a day or a week in politics can be like a lifetime most other places.