Former President Barack Obama was slapped with a reality check Saturday after urging Virginia voters to ignore what he called "fake outrage" and "trumped up culture wars" that he claimed are being peddled by "right-wing media."
What did Obama say?
While campaigning for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, Obama denounced focusing on cultural issues, instead saying that Americans should be concerned with recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We don't have time to be wasting on these phony trumped up culture wars, this fake outrage that right-wing media peddles to juice their ratings," Obama said.
Obama appeared to be speaking about McAuliffe's opponent, Republican Glenn Youngkin, whose campaign platform includes supporting parents to have a voice over decisions made by school boards.
"Instead of stoking anger aimed at school boards and administrators, who are just trying to keep our kids safe, who are just doing their jobs, stoking anger to the point where some of them are actually getting death threats," Obama said. "We should be making it easier for teachers and schools to give our kids the world-class education they deserve, and do to so safely while they are in the classroom."
What was the response?
Obama's comments generated sharp rebuke.
Critics pointed out that children's education is not part of the "trumped up culture war" as Obama claimed, especially considering that McAuliffe has said parents shouldn't have a say in school board decisions.
As many others pointed out, Loudoun County Schools also stands accused of "covering up" two sexual assaults as they pushed controversial LGBT policies.
- "Sorry, but McAuliffe saying that parents shouldn't be in charge of their children's education and the Loudoun County school board lying to parents about sexual assaults in bathrooms isn't 'trumped up cultural wars,'" Ben Shapiro said.
- "Let's be clear: THEY are waging the culture war. WE are fighting back. Covering up a sexual assault in school restrooms to push a transgender policy in gov't schools is the definition of waging a culture war," radio host Larry O'Connor said.
- "Barack Obama is telling parents they have fake outrage over school boards covering up sexual assaults and teaching critical race theory," Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) reacted.
- "The 'right-wing media' tricked Terry McAuliffe into telling parents they should influence school boards. @GlennYoungkin is surging because he's got answers for Virginia's public education's failures," radio host Hugh Hewitt pointed out.
- "Two girls were sexually assaulted on school property, and school admin officials publicly lied about their knowledge of it to parents," reporter Susan Crabtree pointed out.
- "My child's education is not a trumped-up culture war," Michael Needham, chief of staff to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), fired back.
- "Here in WA: I was fired for refusing an experimental vaccine, I saw the COVID pts. Vax passes start Monday in Seattle. An elementary school has a gender unicorn on the wall. A high school handed out a sexual survey asking when kids first had anal. But sure, it's Trumped up anger," another person said.
- "Gaslighting at its finest," one person observed.
- "Zero self-awareness. Zero accountability," another person said.
- "Schools cover up sexual assault. That's not trumped up. That's not culture war. That's a dereliction of public duty. The failure to address it is a failure of leadership. Saying otherwise is a deflection," another person said.
Obama is the latest high-profile figure to stump for McAuliffe. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have also been campaigning for McAuliffe, which signals the race to become Virginia's next governor is much tighter than Democrats anticipated.
McAuliffe and Youngkin are separated by fewer than three points in an average of recent polling, according to FiveThirtyEight.