When it comes to her political opponents, Barbara Comstock has had a consistent pattern throughout her career: spinning deceptive yarns and, often, even outright lying.
Whether it was in Comstock’s professionalization of GOP dirty tricks politics in the 1990s into the 2000s (dogged efforts to undermine the Clinton presidency, creating yarns about Al Gore, …) to the story-telling about her direct political opponents (Margie Vanderhye, John Foust, LuAnn Bennett, and now State Senator Jennifer Wexton), Comstock’s stock in trade has been skillful deceit rather than truthful engagement.
As to Comstock’s “reprehensible record” in her own election campaigns, some examples
- In her first campaign in 2009, for Virginia House of Delegates, Comstock accused her opponent of abetting child molesters. In truth, the opponent had voted for an austerity budget that provided for early release of non-violent offenders.
- In 2011, running for re-election, Comstock maintained that her opponent had supported raising taxes –even though the opponent had never held public office.
- In 2013, running for a third term in the Virginia house, Comstock painted her opponent as a tax cheat. The reality is that the opponent’s spouse had been late paying a property tax bill.
In 2016, Comstock’s NRCC surrogates misrepresented (lied about) a successful LuAnn Bennett project that create jobs and a beautiful mixed-use community.
In 2018, Comstock has directly lied, on radio, about Wexton. Comstock’s own ads falsely claim she’s independent while she votes 98% of the time with Trump. NRCC surrogates have been running atrocious advertisements that, for example, attack Wexton for legislation passed BEFORE she held public office (note that alignment with 2011 above …) and twist Wexton’s opposition to tolling on I-66 into support for those tolls.
Et cetera … et cetera … et cetera …
It seems that one has to adopt that old adage of “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics” to add in, as a last category, “and the things that Barbara Comstock says about her political opponents.”
In trying to figure out how to write up Comstock’s lying, her stock in trade, I entered into a discussion with a savvy observer of Virginia politics who summarized it with, like the scorpion, it’s her nature:
A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. Considering this, the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks the scorpion why, the scorpion replies: “It’s my nature.”
Comstock’s entire career has been embedded in political warfare, in partisan “strategic influence” to shape “narratives” to advance partisan Republican operatives and interests — truth and truthful engagement have been, consistently, a distant second to the necessity of political warfare. As one might put it otherwise, for scorpion Barbara, the ends justify the means.
After two terms in Congress, Barbara Comstock should campaign honestly on the strength of her record. For example, she should explain why her 98 percent pro-Trump voting record is in her constituents’ best interest. Or she should tout her fealty to the NRA and proudly point out that she is a top recipient of campaign donations from the NRA. Or she should draw attention to the fact that she, along with the rest of the GOP, has done nothing to make healthcare more affordable and more available. I don’t realistically expect her to do any of these things.
And, to top it off, it is clear that Comstock can’t win with the truth — to achieve her ends of raw partisan political power, Comsotock cannot tell the truth because VA10 voters (writ large) won’t be happy with that truth.
Defeating Comstock Relies on Truth,
Truthful Engagement, and Truthful Reporting
In conceiving this post and considering how to write it, I realized something.
One doesn’t need to deceive or lie to speak to Virginia’s 10th District voters about why Barbara Comstock doesn’t represent them and is not the person they want in Congress from the District.
A truthful engagement about Comstock’s record should be more than enough to convince roughly sixty percent of the district’s voters.
- Comstock votes roughly 98% of the time with Donald Trump.
- This is the second largest gap between district voter preferences and voting record across the 435 members of the House of Representatives.
- Comstock votes roughly 98% of the time with Donald Trump.
.@RepComstock votes with Trump so much she makes the Tea Party look like a bunch of Swiss diplomats.
Barbara Comstock (VA) – 97.8%
Marsha Blackburn (TN7) 91.7%
Mark Meadows (NC11) – 90.0%
Louie Gohmert (TX01) – 82.0% pic.twitter.com/bB2nNdoqlD
— Make a Mental Note (@MentalNote2018) October 2, 2018
- And, the two percent variation is a mix of “party excused” votes to create a false appearance of “independence” or absolute “no brainer” actions for a Representative with such a high percentage of Federal civil service employees and contractors.
- Comstock is a gun extremist, with an A rating from the NRA, well over $100,000 in NRA contribution, and a voting record against common-sense gun laws to match (and, for example, cosponsoring legislation to make it easier for people to buy silencers).
- Comstock supported (voted for) the transvaginal ultrasound law when in the Virginia House of Representatives and is aligned with extremist anti-choice politics.
- Comstock appears to have profiteered from insider information access and her power as a member of Congress to the tune of well over $1 million. (Note: this is the most speculative item of the list … a “where there’s smoke” item.)
- From health associations to Federal workers’ groups to environmental organizations to human rights organizations to …, Comstock’s extremist record is reflected in ratings that might shock 10th District voters in the aggregate and that, in aggregate, doesn’t align with the views of most.
- Alliance for Retired Americans: 13%
- League of Conservation Voters (lifetime): 5%
- Environment America: 0%
- National Active & Retired Federal Workers Association: 60% & American Federation of Government Workers: 22%
- reminder, the 10th has a high percentage of both active and retired Federal employees as residents and registered voters — this is an extremely low score for this district.
- Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence: 0%
- American Association of University Women: 22%
- EnerVest: Petroleum & National Gas Interests: 100%
- Human Rights Campaign: 0%
- Etc ….
- NOTE: To be blunt, Comstock is an extremist (even if not as vulgar about it as the Freedom Caucus and Donald Trump or as openly racist as Corey Stewart). Fostering a false image as “moderate” is core to Comstock’s entire political strategy. If reality is exposed, her ceiling of VA10 support is likely in the 35-40 percent range.
- Comstock simply doesn’t meet with voters in open forums. Since being elected to the Virginia House of Representatives and then the US House of Representatives, “Representative” Comstock has held a total of zero (ZERO!!!) open town halls where her constituents could
meet with her and engage in open, public discussion about policies, priorities, and otherwise.
- Comstock has had staffers intervene when, in public, citizens sought to engage (civilly — for all the civility police out there) with their elected (so-called) Representative (and act aggressively to keep her from being caught on tape). Comstock has even, almost literally, run away when people people who disagree with her have sought to engage her in conversation.
Virginia has three "Missing Members" of Congress, who haven't held a single open town hall meeting with their constituents this term, including #VA10's own Barbara Comstock. pic.twitter.com/AFcJ59pnHN
— Town Hall Project (@townhallproject) October 17, 2018
Comstock’s record ((political operative spinning deceit), extremist voting record, refusal to meet openly with constituents)) can’t win enough votes so she (and her surrogates) rely on deceit and lies in an effort to trick voters.
This time around, it looks like Barbara’s deceit won’t work.