Youngkin V. McAuliffe

Photo credit: Fauquier Now

by Kerry Dougherty

No one who knows my political leanings would expect me to watch a debate between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe and declare the Democrat the winner.

And I’m not going to do that.

But I was worried before the cameras rolled. I’ve met McAuliffe. I’ve seen him work a room. The guy Larry Sabato once dismissively called “a bag man for the Clintons” can be rather charming.

That Terry McAuliffe was not on stage last night.

In his place was a man who was positively Nixonian: angry, dour and rude. He engaged in name-calling – repeatedly calling Youngkin “clueless” – and yapped incessantly about Trump.

Youngkin was ready for the tedious Trump tropes.

“You’ve made some people in Las Vegas very happy tonight,” Youngkin quipped after McAuliffe invoked Trump’s name repeatedly during one long diatribe. “There’s an over and under tonight on how many times you’re going to say ‘Donald Trump’ and it was 10. You just busted through it.”

“Let’s have Terry McAuliffe versus Glenn Youngkin and let Virginia voters decide who they want the next governor to be,” Youngkin suggested.

McAuliffe turned off the charm last night and turned on the attack. He tried his best to make Youngkin look like a far-right “tin-foil hat” candidate, but it didn’t work. Where McAuliffe was angry and emotional, Youngkin was poised, reasonable and most importantly, well-prepared.

But it was a question on schools where McAuliffe — who’s raking in money from teachers unions — blurted out something that will undoubtedly appear in Youngkin ads before the week is out.

In response to a question on schools, Youngkin said, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”

McAuliffe retorted: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Great sound bite.

News flash, McAuliffe: School boards, like other government entities, are elected by the people. (In most Virginia jurisdictions, anyway.) By definition they answer to the voters. Parents have a stake in what’s taught in the schools and school boards have a duty to listen to them. As much as teachers unions might prefer for school boards to operate as untouchable star chambers, they are not.

Oh, and as the Youngkin campaign was quick to point out after the debate, McAuliffe really ought to familiarize himself with the Code of Virginia 1:240.1:

Rights of Parents.

“A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care of the parent’s child.”

All across Virginia, from Virginia Beach to Loudoun County, parents are being shut out of school board decisions and they’re not happy about it.

These folks vote.

As expected with left-leaning Chuck Todd as moderator, the questions were intended to trip up Youngkin.

Case in point: Youngkin was asked if Trump is the Republican candidate for president in 2024 would he support him. Answer, yes.

Odd, Todd didn’t ask McAuliffe if he’d support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she’s the Democrats’ choice.

(It’s a miracle any Republican ever agrees to a debate. One of the panelists, a George Mason University associate professor, pulled out of the debate panel after it was revealed that he’d called Republicans racists on social media.)

At the end of the hour-long debate, each candidate was given a minute to close.

Youngkin was optimistic, almost Reaganesque, as he invoked Washington, Madison, Jefferson and Mason and asked voters to help him build back Virginia together.

Then it was McAuliffe’s turn. He continued with the histrionics, attacking Youngkin as a Trump wannabe and he falsely accused him of wanting to ban abortion and gay marriage.

That’s when it hit me. There was one candidate on stage exhibiting the exact sort of blowhard behavior that eventually doomed Donald Trump.

And it wasn’t Youngkin.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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21 responses to “Youngkin V. McAuliffe”

  1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    You got this one right.

  2. Richard Genetalia Avatar
    Richard Genetalia

    That’s the problem with these people. Like McAuliffe, they really don’t believe parents should be determining anything about their children’s schooling.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      That may have been the election right there. Truly a huge cockup.

  3. Deborah Hommer Avatar
    Deborah Hommer

    I think one of the most striking moments was, as you stated, the difference between the views on parental rights and the schools.

    Here’s a bit of legalese on it all: For the past few years parents all over the United States are discovering the shocking reading materials in their school libraries and in their classrooms. Many are asking how can this be? The U.S. federal government and every state has strict laws against obscenity and child pornography. Supreme Court Case Roth v. U.S. (1957) defined obscene speech as that being “utterly without redeeming social importance” in which “to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.” Miller v. California (1973) established the standard and determined that obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment in which a three-part test is applied to define obscenity – “appeals to the prurient interest,” “work depicts … sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law,” and “whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

    The intent of these federal and state laws (see “Federal and State Definitions” below) and the Supreme Court cases is to protect children from inappropriate content. Then exactly how does this obscene/pornographic content get in our schools? Well, school systems are taking advantage of the loophole created by the Miller v. California Supreme Court case. All they have to do is claim the book or content has “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value,” and, voi·​là, it’s in.

    There you have it, even materials of the lowest common denominator are now kosher; all you have to do is slap a label on it as having “literary value.” Without the label, there are severe legal consequences.

    A 2016 Virginia bill, HB 516, would have required the Board of Education to write a policy on sexually explicit instructional material requiring parents to be notified of the material, have an opportunity to review the material, and to find an alternative if parental approval is not provided. The bill passed two years in a row with bipartisan support in Virginia, only to be vetoed by then Governor Terry McAuliffe claiming essentially that he is trusting the schools with the “appropriate literary and artistic works.” The problem with McAuliffe’s disingenuous answer is that the bill actually would have allowed the books in the schools; the caveat is that the schools would have been required to notify parents of such reading materials. One has to question why anyone would not want to notify parents of the explicit content of required reading materials. The other consequential question is why in the world would anyone want children exposed to what is considered as explicit adult content?

    Here’s the real kicker: On FCPS BoardDocs, Regulation 3007.3, page 4, (4) states, “In grades 9 through 12, the committee may approve excerpts from TV-MA or R-rated programs. The following additional guidelines shall be followed.” Section (a) requires “Local School Approval”; “(b) Written notification to parents … must be sent home at least two weeks in advance”; and “(c) Written permission must be received from students’ parents before viewing.” So let me get this straight: There is no parental permission required from parents for their children reading essentially what are R-rated books, but there is for movies? These contradictory policies are contrary to right reasoning and a non sequitur.

    Due to McAuliffe’s poor foresight and decision-making, we are now grappling with this dogfight between parents, who clearly see the materials in their schools as obscene and pornographic, and those who want free reign on curriculum content without parental oversight in the schools.

    After reading the opinions of Supreme Court justices in the above-mentioned cases, among others, the dilemma is real – questions of whether obscenity laws belong in court (violation of the separation of powers; legislators need to write laws, not courts); difference of opinions as to what constitutes “obscenity”; the conflicting nature of the First Amendment and obscenity laws; the application of community norms; what constitutes “serious literary value”; and, of course, the perennial question of “Who decides?”

    What we do know is that parental rights laws and codes affirm that parents have fundamental rights. Virginia code § 1-240.1. states, “A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care of the parent’s child.” It doesn’t get any clearer than this.

    Questions for those who are decrying “banned books,” “censorship” and/or “First Amendment rights”: Who decides – parents who have the fundamental rights or the schools? News flash: The laws are on the parents’ side; this is evidenced in Supreme Court cases, state court cases, and state laws. Are there any books that should not be banned from schools? Are there any books children should be protected from being exposed to? What’s the purpose of G and PG-13 rated movies? Should reading materials at schools be rated? Should schools get loopholes on materials that clearly violate Supreme Court case law, federal laws, and state laws?

    It’s time to have some serious discussions regarding the required reading materials in school English classes, in libraries, and whether they should be rated; the built-in loopholes to getting obscenity/pornography in front of students; the lack of parental involvement; and whether a bill such as HB 516 should be proposed once again.

    Federal and State Definitions:

    The Department of Justice Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography states: “Images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law. Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor. … Any violation of federal child pornography law is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face severe statutory penalties. For example, a first time offender convicted of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison.”

    Virginia state law: “§ 18.2-374.1. this article and Article 4 (§ 18.2-362 et seq.) of this chapter, the term “sexually explicit visual material” means a picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, digital image, including such material stored in a computer’s temporary Internet cache when three or more images or streaming videos are present, or similar visual representation which depicts sexual bestiality, a lewd exhibition of nudity, as nudity is defined in § 18.2-390, or sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, as also defined in § 18.2-390, or a book, magazine or pamphlet which contains such a visual representation. An undeveloped photograph or similar visual material may be sexually explicit material notwithstanding that processing or other acts may be required to make its sexually explicit content apparent.”

    “§ 18.2-372. “‘Obscene’ defined. The word ‘obscene’ where it appears in this article shall mean that which, considered as a whole, has as its dominant theme or purpose an appeal to the prurient interest in sex, that is, a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, excretory functions or products thereof or sadomasochistic abuse, and which goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters and which, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

    1. Surprisingly, Virginia public schools seem to be exempted from the obscenity laws based on Virginia Code Section 18.2-383 and Section 18.2-391.1.

      1. Deborah Hommer Avatar
        Deborah Hommer

        yeah, the “get out of jail” free by slapping the label of artistic or literary value or the exemption by the state. This needs to be fixed.
        Thanks for posting those VA codes.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    The election is close and McAuliffe is worried and let his emotions take over and spit out that faux pas which won’t help him for sure.

    I don’t know other parts of the state but we’re seeing pretty much non-stop attack ads from both and I expect new ones and Youngkins are drawing some blood and may draw more.

    I still think the election depends on the suburbs and women.

    And I’m not sure at what point, they go with Youngkin despite his positions but McAuliffe doesn’t look good when he is mad.

  5. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    Youngkin said, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education….(except parents of trans kids… F them!)…”

    1. StarboardLift Avatar

      Sorting out who uses which bathroom or plays on which team does not change curricula. Trans students receive the same “education.”

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        The question is not one group receiving a different education from the other. It is which group of parents have a say in how their children are educated. The Conservative position is that the parents of trans kids have no say.

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Good article, Karen.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Ok, did you mean “Kerry”? In which case I just had a heart incident….

      1. Matt Adams Avatar

        I’d presume he was using his usual snark and calling her a “Karen”.

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Somebody will eventually explain it.

  7. “There’s an over and under tonight on how many times you’re going to say ‘Donald Trump’ and it was 10. You just busted through it.”

    That’s a pretty good jab.

  8. John Harvie Avatar
    John Harvie

    Good luck on getting some decent leadership at the state level. I’m pulling for my birth commonwealth from 1053 miles south.

  9. Steve Gillispie Avatar
    Steve Gillispie

    “Ever agrees to a debate….”

    Todd is one of the least attractive slimeballs in the media.

    Kerry, Jim, Haner, Rippert, or anyone who knows how the system works, why do we never see a debate with “conservative” or non-Liberal moderators?

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      We leave journalism early to make actual money. Hey! Bacon’s Rebellion should sponsor one!

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        As lobbyists. Prestige down, pay up.

  10. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Virginia had an election, and nobody came?

  11. For once in his life he was telling the truth.

    Terry McAuliffe really doesn’t think parents should have anything to say about what is taught in our public schools.

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