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.