The textbook political definition of “gaffe” is a politician who accidentally says what he’s really thinking, even though he doesn’t want the public to know.
If Terry McAuliffe ends up failing to sink the political equivalent of a gimme-putt and loses the gubernatorial race to Glenn Youngkin, one reason surely will be his gaffe on education.
It was one thing that, in a debate before the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, McAuliffe kind of stumbled into taking the position that (painting with broad brush here) parents should have little role to play in the education of their children, at least in the public schools.
That was bad enough. But them McAuliffe spent several days compounding the error by defending himself and doubling down. “Geez, read the room,” one analyst noted as the Democrat kept digging in deeper and deeper.
Republicans have been quick to pounce, not just downstate (where Youngkin is going to roll up big margins but will need every vote) but also in Northern Virginia. After all, if the Republican can hold McAuliffe’s margin of victory to 3-4 points in bluest-of-the-blue N.Va., Youngkin is our next governor.
It was interesting to see a number of daily papers, notably in Fredericksburg, go after McAuliffe almost viciously for his parental comments. Other media outlets, as expected, worked to give him cover. So, too, is the Biden administration, which is trying to paint parents who speak up at School Board meetings and (horror) dare to raise their voices as domestic terrorists. Sheesh.
This is being typed up in advance of last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, so I don’t as of this point know if local Democrats will belie a sense of panic at their gathering. But perhaps they should; one national political analyst whose instincts I trust (and I trust very few) called the McAuliffe comments on education “potentially fatal.” Time will tell.
WHAT I STILL WANT TO SEE FROM McAULIFFE, YOUNGKIN (BUT AS OF NOW AM NOT): We all tend to tune out political ads. It’s all become background noise in our daily lives.
I am still waiting for Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin to do ads where they stand in front of the TV cameras and talk directly to the people of Virginia. Look us in the eye and make your case.
Perhaps they fear doing so because they have the sneaking suspicion that Virginians can see through bull-poopie from politicians. The solution to that? Actually say the things you believe, rather than those handed to you by strategists and pollsters. (Crazy idea, huh?)
- Scott McCaffrey