The Weekend Jolt

Elections

Make No Mistake: Terry McAuliffe Earned His Loss

Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe walks up to the stage at a rally in Arlington, Va., October 26, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Dear Weekend Jolter,

Sharron Angle. Martha Coakley. Terry McAuliffe.

Consider this an updated pantheon of candidates who really put in the work to lose.

The lackluster Coakley famously fell to Republican Scott Brown in true-blue Massachusetts a decade ago. Angle’s ill-fated Senate campaign later that year against Harry Reid in Nevada featured, among other missteps, this entitled response to a reporter: “I’ll answer those questions when I’m the senator.”

They’ve got nothing on Terry, who, no matter the excuses we might hear, deserved every note in the political power chord that rang out this week upon his thumpin’ by Youngkin in Virginia.

It wasn’t just the Piedmont-shaking debate moment when he said parents shouldn’t be telling schools what to teach. Even setting aside the myriad factors that worked against him — the Merrick Garland memo, the Loudoun County sexual-assault case, an unpopular president of the same party, congressional Democrats’ spending blitz, an affable and unflappable GOP opponent, and a national mood shift that has voters clearly souring on D.C.’s incumbent party — McAuliffe’s losing campaign was a tapestry of abysmal conduct, evincing a haughty and dismissive view toward the voters he needed to reach.

Instead of trying to understand the perspective of parents concerned about critical-race-theory-inspired curricula and other animating education issues in the exurbs, McAuliffe opted to demean them by claiming the controversy was “made up” and the debate itself was “racist.” In his role as surrogate, former president Barack Obama, too, waved away what he called “phony” culture wars. Philip Klein writes about how Democrats keep botching this issue.

Meanwhile, as independents were swarming to Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, education surged to become the No. 1 concern for state voters, according to a Washington Post poll. Education voters suddenly favored the Republican by nine points; they had preferred McAuliffe by 33 points a month earlier.

While these seismic changes were occurring, McAuliffe simply defaulted to the playbook of insisting Youngkin is Trump. So committed was he to this narrative that he fabricated an event featuring the two of them. In an Angle-esque moment, he cut short an interview with a local news reporter who apparently should have asked “better questions.” And one of the most ridiculous campaign stunts in modern memory was staged the Friday before Election Day, when the Lincoln Project dispatched a squad dressed as tiki-torch-bearing white supremacists to a Youngkin campaign stop, an incident McAuliffe aides initially used to smear Youngkin’s supporters.

Even if the actors had intended to be up-front about this hoax, what was it ever meant to achieve? Once the hoax was revealed, the optics of LARPing a tragedy would undermine any attempt to truly link Youngkin to Trump and his terrible Charlottesville response. All of this — all of it — telegraphed an utter disregard for and unfamiliarity with the voters McAuliffe needed to court.

If 2017 gubernatorial-election results were any gauge, solid-blue cities like Richmond, Norfolk, and Arlington/Alexandria were never a concern — but McAuliffe needed to convince those in the populous and lighter-blue Northern Virginia counties to stick with him in large numbers in order to replicate Ralph Northam’s success (and his own four years earlier). It so happens these are places where cheap political stunts and the ploy of premise-rejection are widely recognized as such. Live in Northern Virginia? Odds are high that you, your neighbor, or your other neighbor work in politics or media or public relations or government or some combination of these or some industry that makes money off of these. McAuliffe and his allies were treating the swing voters here as rubes, dopes, and cranks, all spun up over nothing and all assuredly malleable upon contact with the right slogan or ad — mere grist for the machine that would restore him to his rightful place.

Youngkin cut the Democrats’ margins in Loudoun County in half on Tuesday. He trimmed them in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. A bit farther out, in Stafford County, where voters went for the Republican by a few points in 2017, Youngkin won by eleven points. There are important lessons here for the GOP, concerning how to run in a semi-post-Trump world (more on that below). Democrats can choose to take away some lessons too. (Spoiler: They won’t.)

But viewed in full, McAuliffe’s conduct of this campaign amounted to a most deserved defeat.

NAME. RANK. LINK.

EDITORIALS

Glenn Youngkin showed Republicans the path to victory on Tuesday night. Will they take it? Glenn Youngkin’s Big Win

ARTICLES

Dan McLaughlin: The Big Red Wave of 2021

Philip Klein: Five Takeaways from the Virginia Governor’s Race

Philip Klein: Virginia Shows Why a Credible Conservative Needs to Challenge Trump in 2024

Charles C. W. Cooke: No, McAuliffe Didn’t Lose Because Democrats Failed to Pass Biden’s Left-Wing Agenda

Michael Brendan Dougherty: Can Dems Cut Off the COVID Anchor?

Alexandra DeSanctis: Progressives Cry ‘Racism’ to Excuse Democratic Losses in Virginia

Brittany Bernstein: GOP Adds 13 Democratic House Seats to 2022 Midterm Target List after Election-Night Successes

Isaac Schorr: Republican Edward Durr, Truck Driver Who Spent $153 on Campaign, Defeats New Jersey Senate President

Madeleine Kearns: Funeral Decorum in the Age of Social Media

Jay Nordlinger: A Free Spirit

Jim Geraghty: Why Are We Shutting Down Firehouses over the Vaccine Mandate?

Alexandra DeSanctis and Carl R. Trueman: Notre Dame Students Go to War over ‘Woke’ Catholicism

Kyle Smith: Give Alec Baldwin a Break

Asra Q. Nomani: Virginia Parents Have Had Enough of ‘Woke’ Lies at Their Schools

Charles C. W. Cooke: The Entirely Needless Meltdown over ‘Let’s Go Brandon’

Kevin Williamson: The OPEC Dodge

CAPITAL MATTERS

The data disagree with the notion that inflation is a “high-class” problem. Joseph Sullivan has the chart: Inflation: A High-Class Problem? Not So Much

The Biden administration is not helping alleviate the supply-chain mess. Quite the opposite, says Iain Murray: Biden’s Agenda Would Worsen the Supply-Chain Crisis

Daniel J. Pilla warns that just because the White House has backed off its IRS-surveillance plan doesn’t mean the idea is dead: The White House Abandons Bank-Reporting Plan . . . for Now

LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.

Armond White praises Kanye’s latest: Kanye West Finds God on Donda

“The Met’s got a case of malaise, and it starts at the top.” Brian Allen explains: Profiling the Met’s Leaders

The cast and crew of Spencer are begging for an Oscar they don’t deserve. From Kyle Smith: How Not to Approach Princess Diana

YOU’VE MASTERED THE LINKS. YOU ARE READY FOR EXCERPTS

Glenn Youngkin shows Republicans how to win. It would be wise to take heed. From the editorial:

There’s a danger in overinterpreting one election outcome on a night when there was clearly an anti-Democratic wave around the country. . . . But the Virginia gubernatorial race has been a national focus for months, and there are clearly lessons in how Youngkin prevailed in a state that Biden carried by ten points and where, until recently, the GOP seemed bent on self-immolation.

Youngkin realized his coalition had to consist of voters firmly attached to Trump and those turned off by him. He welded them together by avoiding criticisms of Trump while maintaining an arm’s length from him personally, taking care to brand himself as a relatable and inoffensive suburban dad, and — importantly — emphasizing the cultural issues around education that resonated with and motivated both pools of voters.

Youngkin rightly and unapologetically hit “critical race theory,” the rubric for racialist indoctrination and 1619-style critiques of America, hard. But his message on education was much broader. He defended high standards and advanced learning, inveighed against school closures, talked about the need for greater school safety, and pushed back against explicit content in education, all the while advocating higher pay for teachers. . . .

Youngkin’s win, and the other wreckage around the map for Democrats, presumably makes passing Joe Biden’s reconciliation bill even harder and signals a bleak midterm election cycle ahead for Democrats. But his victory could be most significant in showing a path ahead for the GOP, if it can take it.

Ah, the logical holes in the excuse-making for Democrats’ election losses are yawning. Not only are they suggesting Congress isn’t spending enough money, but Alexandra DeSanctis highlights the immediate cries of “racism,” which of course fly in the face of the election of Republican minority candidates to top office in Virginia. Anyway . . .

Already, progressives are pointing to exit polls showing an enormous swing to the GOP among white working-class women, who voted for Joe Biden last fall but supported Youngkin this time around — the nasty implication being that these women were motivated to vote by Republicans’ supposedly racist agenda. Totally ignored, or even outright dismissed, are the many nonwhite voters who backed the GOP.

McAuliffe himself obliquely indulged in this fantasy in his statement conceding the election.

On several counts, progressives have begun to coalesce around a narrative that doesn’t hang together — one that displays a shocking unwillingness to grapple with the problems facing their party. For one thing, it makes little sense to assert both that critical race theory doesn’t exist and that parents who oppose it are doing so because they don’t want their children to learn about race or slavery.

If progressives admit that CRT exists at all, they pretend that it’s merely an effort to teach school children about the complicated history of race in our country. In fact, a quick investigation reveals that the proposed curricula contain, in most cases, highly inaccurate history aimed at indoctrinating kids into racially divisive identity politics. . . .

Finally, the “white supremacist” theory for Democratic losses intentionally ignores that two of the top Republican candidates voted into office were Winsome Sears, a female Jamaican immigrant elected lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares, a Cuban American who was elected attorney general. It’s hard to imagine why Virginians voting en masse for the GOP out of thinly veiled racial animus would throw in their lot with this ticket.

Speaking of the Virginia election, Asra Nomani published a lengthy piece in these pages earlier this week about what’s really going on in the schools:

Since Wednesday, October 6, Fairfax County Public Schools staffer Rob Kerr has been teaching a weekly two-hour course to teachers here at Marshall High School called, “AC-1608: How to Be an Antiracist Educator.”

If you happen to be white, look out — through the lens of this teaching, you’re racist. Consider this module in Kerr’s course: “Exploring and Understanding Whiteness,” which includes listening to a podcast by Bettina Love. She is the founder of the radical Abolitionist Teaching Network, whose core philosophy is that America’s schools, and especially its white teachers, are “spirit murdering” black children.

The Fairfax County “Antiracist Educator” syllabus, revealed here for the first time, borrows key concepts from the dour, divisive doctrine known as critical race theory, which holds that all white people are intrinsic oppressors of all minorities and especially black people. Lessons include “the Creation of Racist Systems,” “the building blocks of racism in the United States,” not to mention the ills of “whiteness.”

Education officials and politicians deny critical race theory is taught in K–12 schools, in a pattern of deception that parents are facing nationwide. We’ve heard of white lies, where folks fudge the truth. These are “woke” lies. But we’re now standing up with moral courage as unapologetic parents in a mama bear — and papa bear — movement. And we’re not just standing up against critical race theory. There’s a whole list of dubious woke education polices we’re fighting. These include: the elimination of merit exams for entry into once-elite schools; the elimination even of advanced math; the curating of pornography by some school libraries; and the cover-up of sexual assaults in schools.

Shout-Outs

Christine Rosen, at Commentary: Critical Race Theory Is Coming for Your Doctor

Brad Wilcox and Max Eden, at the Wall Street Journal: Youngkin Makes the GOP the Parents’ Party

Adam Kredo, at the Washington Free Beacon: Most American Parents Unaware China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar are Major Donors to US Universities

Ben Zeisloft, at Campus Reform: College Republicans told that they cannot endorse Glenn Youngkin

Honorable Mentions

(1) Members of the NR family are out with new books, and you really should read them. David Harsanyi is out with Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent, excerpted here. And John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky are out with Our Broken Elections: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote.

(2) Do you live in or can you travel to Miami, New York, or Philadelphia? National Review Institute is opening a new round of Burke to Buckley Programs in those cities. From the source, here are the deets:

NRI is seeking applicants for the Burke to Buckley Programs in Miami (NEW in ’22!), New York, and Philadelphia.

The primary goal of the Burke to Buckley Program is to prepare Fellows to better communicate first principles and other foundational ideas in their workplace, community, and family. Over eight dinner sessions that are led by notable conservative thinkers and National Review writers, each class of 20 to 25 Fellows gathers to learn and engage in spirited and respectful debate.

The ideal candidate will be a mid-career professional with at least ten years of professional experience in medicine, finance, the military, arts, education, law enforcement, or the law, among other fields. He/she will have an interest in exploring key texts in the canon of conservative thought and American ideals. This program is not for recent graduates or people working in the fields of public policy or politics.

Are you qualified or do you know someone else who is? Applications are open now through November 15 and can be accessed on NRI’s website here. Please note that there is a $500 fee for accepted fellows, which partially offsets the cost of the eight dinners and the program. Please contact program manager Lynn Gibson at lynn@nrinstitute.org if you have questions or would like additional information.

CODA

In honor of Diwali this past week, why not some Bollywood music?

This is the moment when this keyboard clacker admits his Pandora app toggles among three stations during the workday, depending on mood: Charles Mingus, Porcupine Tree, and A. R. Rahman (for whom the word “prolific” would be an understatement of his contribution in the realm of Hindi and Tamil scores).

So here’s a smattering of popular songs from the latter artist, something uplifting to move past all the spooky vibes of last month: “Ghanan Ghanan,” “Rang De Basanti,” and “Chaiyya Chaiyya.” Hope you enjoy.

Got a tune? Want to share? Send a link to jberger@nationalreview.com. Thanks for reading.

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