Gavin Newsom’s vanity tour is quite audacious for such a failure of a leader

Gov. Gavin Newsom might have just made his most audacious move yet.

Newsom, who has a fondness for making “big, hairy audacious” statements, just completed a tour through the south promoting his PAC and talking about his accomplishments in California.

What made this trip so audacious?

Not that this was just the latest installment of his national vanity tour that he insists is not the foundation for a presidential run, though that’s certainly audacious.

Not that his vanity tour once again draws him away from the state that he was actually elected to govern, though that is too.

And not that his concerns over book banning, First Amendment restrictions and threats to democracy in four southern states hold a mirror to his own authoritarian impulses in California.

No, the most audacious part of his vanity tour is that he has the nerve to criticize other governors despite having never really accomplished anything in California.

That’s big! Hairy! Audacious!

A consistent theme throughout Newsom’s time as governor is that what he says will happen and what actually happens is rarely in alignment.

Here’s a small example: MSNBC host Jen Psaki asked Newsom to respond to criticism that he’s wasting time traveling the south when he should be in California fixing problems. Newsom responded that the trip was actually family time, what with Easter and spring break for the kids.

Sounds like a real hoot for the kids!

Spring break apparently included a Democratic fundraiser in Florida, a trip to an Arkansas classroom, meeting with activists at a civil rights museum and more, plus local media hits and photo opps for dad. Voters could follow along on Instagram.

It reminds me of a story about former DNC Chair and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who one time stopped at a fundraiser to pick up checks and make a speech while on his way home from the hospital, leaving his newborn baby and wife – who was crying – in the car.

Anyway, back to Newsom.

And while Newsom was in the south promoting his PAC doing spring break, Californians got three more examples of Newsom’s words not aligning with reality.

First, it turns out that federal law actually prohibits Newsom’s big stand against Walgreens.

A few weeks ago, Newsom tweeted that he was “done” with Walgreens “or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” after the drug store announced it would comply with the abortion laws in individual states.

A big, hairy audacious stance indeed! But according to Kaiser Health News, the state must continue working with the drug store through Medi-Cal.

If only someone were fact-checking Newsom’s tweets before they were tweeted.

Second, we learned (again) that the Newsom-backed shutdown of schools during COVID had disastrous effects on students, with a third(!) suffering from chronic absenteeism.

Throughout COVID Newsom made little effort to reopen schools until it was “safe,” even though data suggested kids were low-risk, and it is important to remember that Newsom’s kids were in person in private school while much of the rest of the state was still apparently unsafe.

The Public Policy Institute of California, which published the data on absenteeism, noted a trend that in the schools with the biggest jump in 2021-22 there was a corresponding drop in statewide test scores in math and English proficiency.

Overall, the statewide scores were troubling – not even half of California’s students meet standards in English and merely a third in math.

While the absenteeism was COVID-related, the troubling test scores were part of a years-long trend. In fact, the most-recent scores were a decline of four percentage points in English and seven percentage points in math since 2018-19.

Speaking of COVID, this was Newsom’s top talking point about his first term in office, arguing the drastic actions he took saved lives and kept Californians safe (even if it significantly set back the state’s public school student population).

But now it appears that that’s not even true.

California ranked relatively well in its overall COVID mortality rates per 100,000 residents. What Newsom loved to say was it had one of the lowest death-per-100k rates of the big states, meaning better than Texas and Florida.

However, a new study by The Lancet, one of the premier medical journals in the world, found that once adjusted for various health and demographic factors, for which Newsom can’t take credit, California was relatively even with Texas and substantially worse than Florida.

This study comes on the heels of another respected study that found masking requirements had little effect on controlling COVID, which means that Newsom’s overbearing approach to masking and shutdowns actually did very little to prevent the spread of COVID and COVID-related deaths, even as these actions had tremendous negative effects on civil liberties, education, mental health and the economy.

This means that Newsom’s greatest accomplishment was no accomplishment at all, which is not unprecedented with Newsom.

In an interview with CapRadio following his first 100 days in office, Newsom said his greatest accomplishment was suing then-President Donald Trump almost 50 times – even if the vast majority of those suits were initiated before his first 100 days as governor.

It’s doubtful Newsom mentioned any of this on his vanity tour spring break, but voters in red states should learn what voters in California have had to learn: Don’t take what Newsom says too seriously.

Follow Matt on Twitter @FlemingWords