Everyone In Virginia Has Officially Lost Their Damn, Moonwalking Minds
We kind of miss when Virginia politics were dull. We wrote exactly zero posts about Terry McAuliffe when he was governor, but he never threatened to moonwalk during an "I'm not a racist" press conference. Michael Jackson method impersonator Ralph Northam is still the governor, even though almost everyone would prefer he was the former governor, and it's all just a big mess. Northam held the worst Super Bowl party ever where he discussed his options with senior staff. They were all bleak or delusional. The options weren't good, either. Not in attendance was Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, who would become governor if Northam ever got the message and stepped down. Fairfax, however, has some troubles of his own.
Accusations emerged over the weekend that Fairfax sexually assaulted a woman in 2004 after they'd met at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax was working for John Edwards of all people at the time. He strongly denied the charges and insists the encounter was "100 percent consensual." Not sure why he's quantifying his innocence, O.J. Simpson style. Besides, anything less than 100 percent consent is still sexual assault.
Fairfax hinted to the press that he suspected a lone, white-gloved hand held the knife that was plunged into his back.
FAIRFAX: Does anybody think it's any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated this uncorroborated smear comes up? You don't have to be cynical, you don't have to understand politics to understand when someone's trying to manipulate a process to harm someone's character without any basis whatsoever.
Northam's team made clear it doesn't have the capacity to orchestrate Machiavellian schemes when Governor Smooth Criminal is desperately trying to defy political gravity. This ain't "House of Cards." Maybe Northam's wife, Pam, is the Claire Underwood behind the scenes? She's the most vocal advocate for Northam staying in office and clearing his name. They share the same name, after all, and she probably doesn't want to spend the rest of her life as Mrs. Blackface Klansman. But she might have to get used to it because Northam's poll numbers have tanked and he's currently less popular than an actual minstrel show. Protestors even gathered outside the governor's mansion through the weekend and on Monday to demand his resignation.
The rightwing website Big League Politics posted the Northam blackface photo on Friday and then dropped the Fairfax sexual assault accusation on Sunday. Fairfax has threatened to sue the Double-A site for defamation. Conservative media in general has enjoyed the slow-motion train wreck in Virginia. Charles Cooke at the National Review claims that Democrat Northam got what's coming to him while simultaneously pooh-poohing the liberal "mob" that's taking him down. His colleague David French chose to tediously compare Fairfax to Brett Kavanaugh, who is a sitting Supreme Court Justice but who French insists on covering like he's unjustly serving a life sentence in Folsom County Prison. French can't resist calling Christine Blasey Ford a liar again and arguing that "believing women" is what will lead to a dystopian future where powerful men are held accountable for their actions.
Fairfax's statement claimed the Washington Post found "significant red flags" in his accuser's story, but the Post only went so far as to say it couldn't corroborate either person's version of events. Fairfax's accuser has hired the same legal team that represented Dr. Blasey. He should probably start searching for his alibi calendars.
Perhaps taking lessons in crisis management from Northam, Fairfax actually praised a reporter who asked if he thought Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney might've leaked the story. We're now at multiple possible endings. Maybe Tim Curry from Clue can run around and explain to us who actually did it.
Attorney General Mark Herring is next in line after Fairfax to serve as governor if the dominos keep tumbling. God knows what we'll learn about him in the next couple days. We're starting to miss the comfort of Virginia politics' normal Tim Kaine dullness.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.