Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, in the recent Virginia gubernatorial debate against Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, touted an odd endorsement: founder of the Weekly Standard and editor-at-large of the Bulwark, Bill Kristol.

‘I left a huge surplus when I left office. And that’s the reason so many Republicans have endorsed me — over two dozen prominent Republicans. Tonight, I have the leading conservative in America here, Bill Kristol, who has endorsed my campaign for governor,’ McAuliffe said.

Any right-leaning politico couldn’t help but laugh at the notion that Kristol is the nation’s ‘leading conservative’. When former president Donald Trump ascended during the 2016 GOP primary, Kristol fashioned himself as the head of the rational, principled conservatives who opposed the insane and destructive Orange Man and his influence on the party. NeverTrump, however, quickly turned to NeverConservative. Kristol donated to Democratic Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s campaign in 2017 and said he was ‘pleased’ when the pro-abortion Northam won. Ahead of the 2018 midterms, he thought it was very important that Democrats win the House. In 2020, he tweeted, ‘for the time being one has to say: we are all Democrats now’. In a recent interview about his McAuliffe endorsement, Kristol admitted he is more on the ‘former’ side of being a Republican.

Is McAuliffe really so delusional as to think Kristol gives him major conservative street cred? Or is some other strategy at play?

In order to win the governorship, McAuliffe needs to sweep Northern Virginia, liberal and densely populated, to make up for Youngkin’s support in the more rural parts of the state. A recent Post-Schar poll found McAuliffe underperforming in that region compared to Northam four years ago, particularly in the NoVa exurbs. Perhaps McAuliffe is betting that Kristol, who lives in McLean, will appeal to the moderate upper crust Potomac River residers. Maybe McAuliffe thinks even the Republicans in NoVa will identify more with Kristol than Youngkin, who he has tried to paint as a ‘Trump wannabe’.

The Biden administration also has a penchant for elevating not-so-conservatives, including Bill Kristol, when it is in desperate need of media spin. White House chief of staff Ron Klain has recently been obsessively tweeting a column from the New York Times’s David Brooks arguing in favor of passing Biden’s infrastructure bill and $3 trillion reconciliation package.

‘Amid the coverage of negotiations, timelines, and vote totals — this @nytdavidbrooks column is a good reminder of what the noise in Congress is actually all about: a historic effort to deliver dignity for working people,’ Klain said on Friday, just 12 hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to pull a vote for the infrastructure bill because she was unable to get enough yeses to make up for boycotting progressives.

Brooks is another ‘conservative’ who says he found himself ‘intellectually and politically unattached’ after Trump’s 2016 victory. Could he merely be out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong. Brooks asserted in an April column that ‘the GOP is getting worse’ and accused Trump supporters of having a ‘venomous panic attack’. Like Kristol, he doesn’t stop to think that his willingness to support a Democratic president’s $4 trillion spending plan, including money for ‘climate justice’, could be part of the reason conservatives no longer look to him for political guidance. Or, maybe it’s his insistence that the ‘uneducated’ couldn’t possibly understand sandwiches.

The Democrats use Brooks, Kristol — and Jennifer Rubin, Bret Stephens and Max Boot — cynically. They know these penthouse penmen aren’t going to convince any real Republicans that Biden or McAuliffe has the goods. They are instead a salve for the NeverTrumpers and liberal wine moms who fear the Trumpers and the Squad as imminent threats to the cozy establishment. See, Ron Klain promises, there are still reasonable conservatives out there who agree with us!

Of course, this public alliance between establishment Rs and Ds is part of the reason populism has become so attractive. Trump supporters shout about the ‘swamp’ and progressives call ‘eat the rich’. These are both recognitions that their enemy is not so much their neighbor who holds different political opinions. Their common enemy is the ‘Uniparty‘ elite in Washington.