Never Mind The Blackface: Governor Northam Should Resign Because He Is Cowardly, Untrustworthy, Dishonest And Too Weird For Words

And it is unethical for a governor to be cowardly, untrustworthy, dishonest and too weird for words. Virginia’s governor has embarrassed his state, it’s citizens, and everyone who voted for him. He is a source of humiliation for his party. He cannot lead, or do anything but harm while he remains in office.

You host here at Ethics Alarms is still sick and bed-ridden, but I had to crawl to my office for this. Wow. From the moment he appeared in the most unethical campaign ad I had seen from a Virginia candidate for office, appealing directly to anti-Trump derangement and hate by calling the President of the United States a “maniac,” I knew there was something seriously off about Ralph Northam, and, frankly, about anyone who would vote for him. His recent “oh, this is how you go about aborting a baby who has already been born” comments confirmed that assessment, ” but I was not in favor of forcing him out of office because he had appeared in blackface while a medical student 34 years ago. However, Northam’s conduct and statements since initially apologizing for the photo that surfaced this week are not 35 years old. They reveal the current character of the individual changed with overseeing the government of Virginia. That character is intolerable for any leader, and it was not what the Virginians who voted for Northam—I wasn’t fooled, but you can fool some of the people some of the time—believed they were electing.

In today’s Saturday Night Live-ready press conference, Governor Northam, his poor wife by his side, gave a bravura performance in self-character assassination:

  • First and foremost, he now denies he was one of the men dressed up as a Klansman and in blackface in a picture on his medical school yearbook page, despite admitting the night before he was, in fact, in the photo. This alone marks him as unbelievable going forward, if not a complete wacko. Wouldn’t you know if you had ever been photographed in a Klan outfit or in blackface? If you didn’t know, due to some kind of brain lesion or because you emulated minstrel shows or Kan rallies so frequently it didn’t make a big impression on you, why would you immediately apologize for such a photo without being sure you were in it? Once you did apologize, why would you think it would look anything other than ludicrous for you to come back and say, on second thought, I would never do such a thing?

Such behavior is desperate and bizarre. Nobody should want to hold on to power that much.

  • “It was definitely not me. I can tell by looking at it,” the governor said today. That’s odd: yesterday he said he was in the photo. Why couldn’t he tell then? Northam “explained” that wanted to “take credit for recognizing that this was a horrific photo that was on my page with my name on it.” But that’s not what he said. He said that he was one of the men in the photo, and apologized for that, not for the photo ending up on his yearbook page.

More: “My word is important to me and my first intention … was to reach out and apologize. As you might imagine and understand, there are a lot of people that are hurt by this and I wanted to reach out to them. After I did that last night, I sat and looked at the picture. Today, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to classmates, my roommate and I am convinced that is not my picture.”

Nope: I can’t understand. They were hurt by the belief that it was Northam in the picture. How does apologizing for being in the picture if was not in the picture “reach out” to them? Who apologizes first and then thinks about whether he did anything wrong?

Northam again:  “I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me to duck the responsibility to reconcile.”

When in trouble, resort to gibberish.

  • KABOOM! Then the governor admitted that he had dressed up in blackface the same year, to imitate Michael Jackson at a talent show. He said he used shoe polish to “darken” his face—he wouldn’t call it blackface—and asked the assembled reporters if they had ever tried it. “I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put on my cheeks and the reason I used a very little bit because – I don’t know if anyone’s ever tried that – you cannot get shoe polish off,” he said.

Good to know. In the process, he couldn’t remember Michael Jackson’s name and had to be prompted by his wife. Yet he said that he won the talent contest because he “had always liked Michael Jackson. I actually won the contest because I had learned to do the Moonwalk.”

  • Then Northam explored the history of why his nickname was “Coonman” in school. He claimed he never knew why he was called that:

“My main nickname in high school and in college was ‘Goose’ because when my voice was changing, I would change an octave. There were two individuals, as best as I can recollect, at VMI they were a year ahead of me. They called me ‘Coonman’. I don’t know their motives or intent. I know who they are. That was the extent of that. And it ended up in the yearbook. And I regret that.”

  • Northam admitted that he had lived recent decades in a cave and was culturally, politically and historically ignorant.  All right, not exactly. What he said today was that he didn’t know that blackface was considered offensive by African Americans until a  campaign staffer explained it to him. How is this possible? How does someone so unaware of his nation’s culture and the history of the South get nominated to run for governor of Virginia?

Today Governor Northam revealed himself to be a fraud;  a shallow, silly man who rode into office by falsely tarring his opponent as a racist,  by hurling ad hominem insults at the President and by pandering to extreme abortion advocates. Now we know that he can’t even admit a youthful mistake with coherence,  directness and integrity, and will represent Virginia as a humiliated buffoon as long as he remains in office. If he’s going to resign, that’s what he should resign for.


Sources: Politico, New York Times

39 thoughts on “Never Mind The Blackface: Governor Northam Should Resign Because He Is Cowardly, Untrustworthy, Dishonest And Too Weird For Words

  1. His behavior has confirmed my suspicions of him since he first ran for governor. The problem as I see it is that there are still far too many that are exactly like Northam on both sides of the aisle who would sacrifice any principle to get another vote.

    Nonetheless, I am fighting back feelings of schadenfreude because I dont want to become someone that derives pleasure seeing others fall. Still, I feel no need to give any comfort to such a lout who deserves the shame being heaped upon him.

    • Chris,

      The only satisfaction I have in this episode is being vindicated as having predicted the tactic would be a) used by progressives against each other, and b) picked up by former conservatives to show that the left is particularly susceptible to the tactic.

      I take no pleasure in the governor’s difficulty. His conduct since this started shows he is unfit to lead, but I don’t believe there is a progressive on earth that is qualified, and damn few who call themselves ‘conservative.’

      Trump is the President we deserve. At least he is getting things done.

  2. Maybe he should have gone with some variation of “you guys treated Senator Bird like a political deity so I thought I might give it a tumble…”,

  3. My favorite part was when he was asked if he could still moonwalk and he had to get his wife’s advice that attempting it now was unwise (read: ridiculously counterproductive).

  4. “I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put on my cheeks and the reason I used a very little bit because – I don’t know if anyone’s ever tried that – you cannot get shoe polish off,”

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall after his handlers heard that!

      • uhhhh… shoe polish is one of the things used for camouflaging the face stemming from WW2. It does not wash off, wipe off, and stains the skin so that it lasts a LONG time.

        So yes, I HAVE thought about putting shoe polish on my face… while serving my country. I actually used camo sticks because our Top Sargent didn’t like stained faces in morning formation after the field exercise. (HE, however, expected the shoe polish to be on our boot or shoes, depending upon uniform of the day)

  5. I don’t think he should resign for the photos for the reasons stated so eloquently by others in the post yesterday. But I don’t think he should resign after yesterday either.

    I watched the press conference – it was as cartoonish as jack describes. But Virginia saw this coming – the Trump ad, flip flopping on sanctuary cities, the whole campaign flier thing (“Flier Fiasco”). They elected a boob and you’re going to force him to resign because he is a boob? That would be like calling for trump to resign because of his tweets or intemperate remarks – sorry, the ship has sailed on that.

      • There’s something to EO’s argument. If you can force people elected to or appointed to public office because they’re dopes, where does that process begin or end? Isn’t anyone who gets into elective politics or appointive public service a little suspect? Aren’t politicians invariably needy to one extent or another?

          • There needs to be some sort of orderly process other than Haderizing and torchlight parades by the media. Recall? Ethics panels with sanctioning powers? If this were a U.S. president, would this be an impeachable offense. I assume a sitting governor of Virginia can be impeached. Why not have a process and engage in it? Didn’t Virginia learn anything from the trial of the guy who had a booster pay for his kid’s wedding? Was he even convicted? Now we’re back to year book photos and bungled messaging undoing elections. Is this any way to run a railroad?

      • And this is telling. Has anyone figured out that Democrats call the US racist, sexist, and downright prejudiced because that is what they are themselves? The Democratic Party’s poster boy for ‘male feminist’ is Harvey Weinstein. Here is a man they celebrated for his feminist values while they all knew how he really acted. Their feminist political icon is Ted Kennedy. The Clintons, responsible for calling blacks super criminals and sexual assault perpetrators and facilitators are champions of feminism and race relations. Ocasio-Cortez is seen voting for the elimination of Israel and chanting “From the river to the sea, Palistine will be free”, the chant for driving all the Jews into the Mediterranean. Their ‘Women’s March’ has been shown to be outrageously anti-Jew from the very beginning. This governor is no different than any other Democrat politician.

        Democrats know they are racist, sexist, etc. However, they feel they are better than everyone else, so everyone else must be EVEN WORSE. That is why they hate all conservatives. Look at how disgusting these Democrats are. If conservatives were actually EVEN WORSE, they would be truly abhorrent. Democrats call Trump racist because they are racist and to feel better about themselves, they have to insist he is EVEN WORSE.

      • The shoe polish and considering doing the moonwalk are not signs of a well person. Even if you HAD considered putting shoe polish on your face, why would you assume anyone else had or would admit it in year 2019?

        I wouldn’t call for him to resign but then again I wouldn’t vote for him in the first place. I don’t think he’s a racist now, and probably not in the 1980’s. He is socially awkward, if that’s nicer tha boob, but come on, that’s the guy you elected.

  6. I can’t help but think that, if he were a Republican, we’d be seeing interviews all over the place with his former classmates, explaining the “Coonman” nickname, getting all kinds of details about the dance contest, deep dives on every last detail of that insane press conference. If he were a Republican, we’d already know what brand of shoe polish he used (including an exclusive interview with the former Walgreens clerk who claims she remembers selling it to him), and there would be all sorts of “experts” doing Zapruder-film-level analysis of that Klan photo to determine without a doubt which one he is in it.

    I find the part about not knowing blackface was offensive to be an especially idiotic claim. Did we not just have an enormous national discussion on the subject, when Megyn Kelly was fired for, not appearing in blackface, mind you, but merely asking a question about it? Didn’t the Florida Secretary of State just resign like a week ago for an old blackface photo that resurfaced? Is Northam that stupid, or does he think the people of Virginia are? (Admittedly, the people of Virginia voted for him, so he may have some evidence to support the latter supposition.)

    • “and there would be all sorts of “experts” doing Zapruder-film-level analysis of that Klan photo to determine without a doubt which one he is ”
      At the risk of being THAT GUY, a couple of simple observations make it likely he’s the guy in blackface.
      1. Photos of groups that include Northam show him to be taller than all of the women and slightly taller than most of the men. So, like most male politicians, he’s taller than average, probably about 6′, or 6’1″. About 80% of adult men in the U.S. are shorter than this,
      2. The photo appears to show a height difference of about 5″ between the Klan guy and the Minstrel guy.
      3. If Northam is the Minstrel guy, the Klan guy would be about 5’8″. Average U.S. adult male is slightly over 5’9″.
      4. If Northam is the Klan guy, the Minstrel guy would be about 6’5″. Less than 1% of adult U.S. males are this tall.
      The early spin of “I don’t remember which one I was” was very funny, as I imagine there was an intense discussion of which would be less bad, with no one in the room being able to decide. I would have voted to claim being the Klan guy and saying that he was making fun of racists. I don’t think they could have made that work though based on the photo, so they went with “can’t remember” in a sort of Hilary-homage, and then “It ain’t me!”

  7. “Serious question: Has anyone here ever THOUGHT about putting shoe polish on his or her face?”
    Not on my face, but in the process of building and maintaining a mirror finish on my Corcoran jump boots I sometimes managed to get quantities of black paste shoe polish on my hands and fingers, and never had any problem removing it before inspection time. I have sometimes had more difficulty removing camouflage color face paints after they had been in place for several days, but evidently no one was offended by my “green-and-loam face.”

  8. For the record; overall, Governor Northam sounds like a real piece of work and I have no problem if the people of Virginia recall their Governor, that is if they have the constitutional right to do so.

    I am a bit distraught and a bit perplexed reading things from some people that have spoken out against the continuous anti-Trump attacks from the resistance then they turn around and attack Governor Northam with arguments that sound quite similar and in some cases sound damn near identical to the anti-Trump resistance arguments.

    Wisconsin went through a very nasty recall process because the political left didn’t like things the Governor did, the recall was a failure and there are now very deep divisions in the state as a result. There are consequences for actions and it’s the people of Virginia to weigh the pros and cons.

  9. A propos of absolutely nothing, why is this controversy coming out now? That yearbook is from 1984, right? That is approximately 34 years ago. The yearbook has been on display at the college for all of those years. The pictures have been in that yearbook for all of these years. It was ripe for the picking while Northam ran for numerous state and federal offices. No one raised it before now.

    So. why now and who leaked it? What it Lt. Governor Fairfax? Did he leak it so kill of Northam so that Fairfax could bludgeon him over the head, remove him from office and assume the highest executive seat in the state? If so, that is pretty Machiavellian.

    And, while we are at it. Who leaked the sexual assault claims against Fairfax? Was it Northam as political pay-back for the black-face/Klan photos?


    • You ask a very interesting question. Who did the ‘good’ governor piss off enough to do this?

      – His support of illegal gun control policies could have upset NRA-minded individuals

      – His remarks about killing live post birth babies could have motivated some single issue pro-life advocate

      – Radical progressives may have thought he was not moving quickly enough to implement their utopia

      – He may have mentioned a run in 2020, which gives a LARGE field of opponents motive to knock off the opposition

      – Was this a pure accident, with someone who just wanted to stir the pot (and don’t care who gets wet) found an opportunity to do so?

      – Did he have some of Hillary’s lost emails?

      – Did he piss off the LGBTQxyz crowd?

      – Did he piss off Putin?

      – Did he try to tax Facebook, Google, or Twitter?

      Okay, we are well into the weeds now…

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