Political candidates regularly take their opponents’ words out of context in attack ads. It’s unsavory and unfair, but it happens in the steel-cage match world of electoral politics.
But Terry McAuliffe’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, his petulant remarks about parental involvement in public education were in no way taken “out of context” by his opponent, Glenn Youngkin.
Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Mr. Youngkin, a Republican, are rivals in Virginia’s off-off-year gubernatorial election on Nov. 2.
Mr. McAuliffe’s complaint last week that Mr. Youngkin’s attack ads took something he had said nearly a month ago out of context is false and baseless.
The Democratic nominee committed a political gaffe in a Sept. 28 televised candidates’ debate, and his GOP opponent has effectively weaponized those words against him.
That has Mr. McAuliffe crying foul, but not only was he not taken out of context, but there’s also no context in which the indefensible remarks in question could be misunderstood or misconstrued, deliberately or otherwise.
PoliticalDictionary.com defines a political gaffe as “when a politician inadvertently [says] something publicly that [he or she] privately believe[s] is true, but would ordinarily not say because it is politically damaging.”
What Mr. McAuliffe said about parental rights vis-à-vis their children’s public school education was appalling. It was also politically damaging for him—and deservedly so.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” Mr. McAuliffe said, doubling down by adding: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
That’s the attitude one expects from authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, but not in a representative republic. But it appears to be what Mr. McAuliffe genuinely believes, and it’s clear that he didn’t expect the political blowback that followed.
The remarks are particularly inflammatory, given the controversy raging across the state, especially in Northern Virginia, over the teaching—or should we say, indoctrination—of hateful critical race theory and divisive LGBTQ gender identity dogma, neither of which has any place in schools’ curricula.
The criticism has only intensified since Sept. 28, so it’s curious that Mr. McAuliffe waited three weeks to release an ad aimed at tamping down the political damage. Even more curious, Mr. McAuliffe doesn’t address head-on what he said (much less apologize for it) and instead seeks to change the terms of the debate.
“As parents, [his wife] Dorothy and I have always been involved in our kids’ education,” Mr. McAuliffe, who sent their five children to private schools, says in his ad.
“We know good schools depend on involved parents. … Glenn Youngkin is taking my words out of context. I’ve always valued the concerns of parents. It’s why as governor, we scaled back standardized testing, expanded pre-K, and invested $1 billion in public schools,” adds Mr. McAuliffe, who won his 2013 election only because of the presence in the race of a third-party spoiler candidate.
He seems to think—mistakenly—that promising to throw more cash at public education will mollify parents understandably outraged about what their children are being force-fed in public schools.
Mr. Youngkin, within hours, responded with a potent counterattack ad that features clips of “seven times Terry McAuliffe said parents should have no say in their child’s education.”
Mr. McAuliffe’s shameful, condescending attitude toward parents has won him favor with the far-left leadership of the American Federation of Teachers, whose political action committee released an ad last week supporting his candidacy. However, his Sept. 28 remarks — which he still has not disavowed — render him undeserving of a return to the Virginia governor’s mansion.