I arrived in Austin, Texas exhausted, still suffering from whatever it is that’s been sapping my energy for the last month, and resigned to staying off the blog until tomorrow, a news day, and with luck a healthier me arrived. Then I learned about the latest ridiculous development in my adopted home state of Virginia. My mind was awash with images of George Washington, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe—no, not Woodrow Wilson, he liked blackface—-all doing backflips in their graves. I can’t stand it. I have to write something.
But what? I don’t even know what this mass meltdown of the Virginia Democrats is. And what does it mean? Could it possibly mean that all of our elected officials are secretly absurd, untrustworthy morons? That can’t be it, can it? CAN IT? Heck, before this, Virginia wasn’t even on my list of top ten ridiculous state governments, then the next think I know, the Governor of Virginia is solemnly explaining how one would go about a post-birth abortion, and then someone finds a weird photo of Governor Northam simultaneously dressed in blackface and in KKK robes, or something, in his mediacl school yearbook, and I didn’t even know medical schools had yearbooks. Maybe only medical schools where they teach post birth abortions? I don’t know. Anyway, suddenly the Governor is apologizing and saying that yes, he was in one of those costumes, then he’s saying that, upon reflection, he would NEVER have dressed like that for a yearbook photo, and he never saw the thing before, BUUUUT he did recall putting shoe polish on his face that same year to imitate Michael Jackson, but not TOO much, because as we all know, it’s hard to wash off. Which is totally not what Matthew McConaughey promised the whites in the jury when he asked them to make themselves black for a while in that dramatic closing argument in “A Time To Kill,” but I digress. Anyway, Democrats realize that accusing Republicans and conservatives of being racists is the whole ball game for them, so obviously Northam had to go, and his own Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, who is also conveniently black as well as next in line if Northam quit, made comments suggesting that just maybe a Michael Jackson imitator, even one whose act was 35 years old, might not be exactly what the Old Dominion needs in these fraught times, not that this conclusion had anything to do with the job promotion it would involve for him.
Then, in a complete coincidence—-as this certainly would have happened even if the Governor wasn’t waxing nostalgic about his youthful moonwalking career, right?—Fairfax was accused of having sexually assaulted a woman 15 years ago, which, you may note, is a lot fewer than 35. He denies it vehemently, and she insists it is true equally vehemently—unfortunately, Fairfax’s party isn’t just the “everybody but us are racists” party, it is also the “men are all rapists and if a woman says she was assaulted, by God, she was assaulted” party. How will they be able to force future conservative judges to withdraw their nominations unless they gradually convince the public and the culture to get rid of that icky “innocent until proven guilty” thing so “he said/she said” is as sure a thing as video proof and DNA?
So does this mean that BOTH Northam AND Fairfax have to be forced out of office to maintain sacred Democratic values? It’s all okay, if so, because the next in line after they fall on their swords is still a Democrat, Attorney General Mark Herring. And today, I guess it’s yesterday now, Herring admitted that he once wore blackface at a college party in 1980.
He had, incidentally, also called for Northam’s resignation, because of HIS blackface incident. Hypocrisy, they name is Herring.
“In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” AG Mark Herring said in a statement. “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes — and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others — we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.” Herring called it “a onetime occurrence” and said, “I accept full responsibility for my conduct.” He said “the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades.”
Wait..I lived in Virginia in 1980. I knew of nobody then or since who dressed in blackface, whether they were 19 or 8. This wasn’t 1880, it was 1980. What was there, some kind of blackface cult in Virginia? This is like a really silly Monty Python skit, or a Tom Stoppard satire like “The Real Inspector Hound.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe the President was wrong—maybe we should go socialist. I bet Bernie Sanders never dressed up like Michael Jackson.
Ethics Observations, before my brains start leaking out my ears:
1 Have any of these three stooges done anything that requires their resignations? No. In the cases of Northam and Herring, we are talking about legal conduct decades before they were elected, and presumably the episodes say nothing about the characters and values of the two officials today.
2. Fairfax should not have to resign because of an unsubstantiated accusation, unless one argues that the Democrats should have to live by their rules, however unethical and undemocratic, that they have been trying to impose on others. I admit, I am tempted to argue that.
3. Should any of them resign, though, as a matter of honor, dignity, and respect for the posts, state and public they serve? I believe that when any elected official behaves in such an embarrassing fashion that they degrade their office and tangibly harm the public’s trust in their government, the right thing for them to do is resign as an admission of disgrace and to point toward a higher standard. Bill Clinton should have resigned, for example.
Unless Fairfax admits guilt (and the description of his alleges sexual assault sounds criminal) or his guilt is proven, he shouldn’t resign, nor should he be impeached.
But Northam? Tough call. I was 100% against him resigning because of the photo from 1984. I believe, however, that his 2019 press conference and the it’s me, I’m sorry, wait I’ve never seen that photo before, OK, I did dress up as Michael Jackson, but that was “darkening,” no I won’t resign even if my whole party is embarrassed by me and won my election by shameless race-baiting know that I have a King of Pop Face in my closet comes awfully close to being too buffoonish to continue as Governor. Herring’s case is even tougher. If he hadn’t set Virginia’s pot calling the kettle dark record by calling for Northam to step down knowing he had done the same thing, I wouldn’t advocate his resignation, but there has to be some kind of too much like a weasel to be attorney general rule, don’t you think? Maybe Virginians deserve better. Than again, they voted for all three of these guys.
Maybe they don’t.