McAuliffe's closing message: A blatant lie about Youngkin and Trump

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

I salute him for finishing his campaign the way he ran it, by lying his balls off.

Yesterday in this post I made two points. One: Contrary to media reports, McAuliffe wasn’t actually giving up on attacking Trump in the campaign’s final hours. He understands at this point that that strategy hasn’t been as effective for him as it was for Gavin Newsom in the California recall (probably due to the relative strength of their respective opponents) but it may yet be enough to get him over the finish line in a state as blue as Virginia. He has nothing to offer Democrats except a retread of his first term as governor. If he wants them to turn out, he’ll have to scare them.

Two: The atmosphere around this guy and his campaign is so thick with panic that even Democrat-friendly big media can’t resist looking for signs of desperation. CNN perked up at his recent comment that the campaign isn’t about Trump not merely because that contradicted his overall message but because it’s just the sort of thing a fading candidate who’s second-guessing his strategy at the end would say. Similarly, Politico’s Playbook this morning dinged McAuliffe for a flagrant lie he told at his final rally last night while making a point of noting how different the energy around his campaign and Youngkin’s was in the final days. The press is clearly expecting a Republican upset and all narratives are aimed that way:

“Guess how Glenn Youngkin is finishing his campaign?” McAuliffe told a modest crowd outside a Fairfax brewery Monday night at his final rally. “He is doing an event with Donald Trump here in Virginia.”

That was a lie. Trump wasn’t in Virginia and he never campaigned with Youngkin, though he did make the case for the GOP candidate — “fantastic guy!” — during a brief “tele-rally.”

Thirty miles away, at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds, a crowd several times the size of McAuliffe’s was waiting for Youngkin to take the stage. You got a hint of why McAuliffe was desperate to manufacture the fake Trump event. While McAuliffe has boundless energy — “Sleep when you’re dead!” he likes to say — his Monday audiences in Richmond and Fairfax, where we caught up with him, were modest and listless.

“Youngkin’s were large and rollicking, with many of the trappings of a MAGA rally,” Politico continued. No kidding. This looks more like a victory party than a political event:

McAuliffe is so desperate to link Youngkin to Trump in hopes of motivating Democrats that he ended up wishing yesterday that you-know-who still had his Twitter account — before catching himself and affirming that of course that would be terrible for the country, which is what he really cares about:

“McAuliffe’s final message was almost entirely negative, focused on tying his opponent to Trump,” per Politico. Youngkin focused on local concerns, meanwhile. That was true to the spirit of their respective campaigns, with the Democrat relentless in trying to nationalize the race while Youngkin spent his time “advocating for job training programs, fixing the Virginia DMV, eliminating the state’s grocery tax and admiringly name-checking George W. Bush.” His bread-and-butter issue, though, was education…

…for a good reason:

To my amazement, while Youngkin spent his final hours hoping to galvanize parents by promising them more authority over schools after 18 months of COVID misery, McAuliffe countered with … this:

Again, I salute him for finishing his campaign the way he ran it. As unctuous an operator as McAuliffe is, he remained weirdly consistent in siding with schools and teachers when confronted about parents’ concerns despite the mounting evidence that his stance was hurting him. He’s a man of his party on this subject and he refuses to pretend otherwise for electoral gain. He and Democrats are about to learn a hard lesson about how misguided they are, Matt Welch predicts:

If I can, in a spirit of charity, encourage Democrats to tattoo one headline onto their forearms, as they attempt to recalibrate their political strategy in the wake of either Youngkin’s victory or McAuliffe’s near miss, it would be this, from Fox News’s Juan Williams, writing Monday in The Hill: “‘Parents’ rights’ is code for white race politics.” If you tell parents that attempting to exert influence on their kids’ school policies is just some kind of “Let’s Go Brandon” wink-nudge for hating on the dark-skinned, those parents will rightly tell you to go f*** yourself. Such choices do not successful political strategies make.

Calling people racist can work in the short term—to shut critics up, guilt people into accepting policy changes they don’t agree with, even drive out the demographically/ideologically undesirable. But for those who find themselves unfairly on the receiving end of, or even adjacent to, our political culture’s remarkably breezy standards for deploying the scarlet R, the results can be radicalizing. The potency of shame wanes with its overuse, and people no longer afraid of speaking are going to say many things you do not want to hear.

Polls close tonight at 7 p.m. ET. I’ll leave you with this from Newsbusters, another case of the media calling out a failing candidate on a desperate lie.