Does the Biden Administration Have a Global Climate Change Plan?

Plus: The Youngkin ad lighting up the last week of the race.


Greetings from a very windy Northern Virginia! I had hoped to do some afternoon BBQ, but that’s not in the cards. My grill cover has blown off and until a few minutes ago, our nanny and my twins were on a search and rescue mission. (It was in the neighbor’s backyard.)

But luckily, I can cook those things indoors if need be, thanks to my Johnsonville Sizzling Sausage Electric Indoor Grill, brought to you by the sausage scientists in Charlie Sykes’s home of Wisconsin.

We’re getting to the final throes of the VA gubernatorial race. It is an important one, of course, because I live here. But I’m not as certain it is a harbinger of things to come with midterm elections the following year. A lot can happen in a year.

As of this writing, it looks like Glenn Youngkin has taken the lead. But I fear Youngkin might be playing too aggressive in the final days.

A few thoughts on this:

Youngkin has a new ad out with a “concerned parent.” But said concerned parent, not to diminish her concerns about a book that was taught years ago, comes from an atypical family.

The mom is Laura Murphy. She narrates: “When my son showed me his reading assignment, my heart sunk,” she says. We are told that the son had nightmares from what he had to read for school—implying that the son was a young child.

“It was some of the most explicit material you can imagine. I met with lawmakers. They couldn’t believe what I was showing them; their faces turned bright red with embarrassment.”

The ad does not disclose which book Mrs. Murphy’s son was forced to read. Political ads like these rarely get into the details. But that’s odd in this case. If something was obscene to the point where parents and even lawmakers felt compelled to act, why not say what it was? 

It turns out that the book was Beloved by Toni Morrison, the novel for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.

Murphy’s son Blake “had nightmares after reading ‘Beloved’ for his senior-year Advanced Placement English class. ‘It’s about the content.’” That was 2013.

Eight years later, Blake is a lawyer and associate general counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Blake’s younger brother Michael ran into issues about using $50k of student funding to bring President Trump’s large adult son to speak, and, like Trump, faced impeachment for it.

And Mr. Murphy, his father, is a Trump donor and works for Haley Barbour, a big Trump supporter. (And worked for Mel Martinez as Chief of Staff at HUD.)

While McAuliffe screwed up initially with his dumbly worded response, Youngkin is perhaps responding in kind by overreacting and picking a very political family to serve as stand-ins for normal families, who don’t work for Republican bigwigs, who might be better messengers to bash Terry McAuliffe.

McAuliffe may have handed an issue ready made for ads to Youngkin in the final days of the campaign, but the handling of a turnover, still depends upon how the defense responds when the shoe is on the other foot. 

Here’s how McAuliffe responded:

“In the final week of this race, Glenn Youngkin has doubled down on the same divisive culture wars that have fueled his campaign from the very beginning. Youngkin’s closing message of book banning and silencing esteemed Black authors is a racist dog whistle designed to gin up support from the most extreme elements of his party--mainly his top endorser and surrogate, Donald Trump."

“I have long said that Glenn Youngkin is using our schools and children as political pawns to advance his and Trump’s dangerous, out-of-touch and bigoted agenda here in Virginia. Doing so is disturbing, disgusting and disqualifying. Do not be deceived, this is yet another example of Glenn Youngkin’s full embrace of Donald Trump, and Virginians will reject both Youngkin and Trump at the polls next week.”

But will this turn into an ad? The omission of the Youngkin camp was crucial, and it seems neither camp wants to get into specifics. With a week go to, we’ll see.

Leading The Bulwark…

Does the Biden Administration Have a Global Climate Change Plan?

SHAY KHATIRI: Four recent reports from the administration suggest not.

🎧 On the Pods… 🎧

Catherine Rampell: When Taxing the Rich Doesn't Include Millionaires

With a wealthier and more highly educated base, do Democrats have the political will to actually tax the rich? The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell joins Charlie Sykes on today's podcast.

ATMA: The Vital Importance of Gun Safety on Movie Sets

On this week’s episode of Across the Movie Aisle, Sonny is joined by Peter Suderman and Chris Orr, who will be filling in for Alyssa while she’s on maternity leave. We discussed the tragedy on the set of Rust, a film that was in production until Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and wounded director Joel Souza.

For Bulwark+ Members… 🔐

MORNING SHOTS: DeSantis's Pro-Anti-Vax Spin 🔓

CHARLIE SYKES: The Facebook story is about to get bigger.

THE TRIAD: Everything Facebook: It's Worse Than You Thought 🔓

JVL wonders: can we fix social media?

ATMA: Denis Villeneuve Beyond 'Dune' 🔐

On this special bonus episode, Sonny, Peter, and Chris discuss which of French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s movies they like the most.

From The Bulwark Aggregator…

In Today’s Bulwark...

Will Higher Inflation Lead to a Spike in Crime?

BRENT ORRELL: It may be a more reliable indicator than unemployment or general economic hardship.

No, the Public School System Is Not Unconstitutional

CORBIN BARTHOLD: What Philip Hamburger’s strange argument reveals about recent shifts in conservatism.


All is not well in Ohio.

But that’s the case with a lot of other states, too.

Things I plan to watch, and you should, too:

I’d like to report a Twitter murder. Because this was bad.

NEW MATT LABASH: I am not going to spoil one bit of it for you. Read and subscribe.

Serving the public… This story is wild.

Is this really appropriate? Admittedly, I am a Senate snob, but I am going to go with no here.

That’s it for me for today. We’ll see you back here tomorrow. Tech support questions? Email Questions for me? Drop me a line:


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