Ralph Northam Ruins Super Bowl For Top Staff, Still Hasn't Resigned
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is the star of the saddest clownshow this week outside the Trump administration. Friday, Northam apologized for a blackface photo in his 1984 med school yearbook, and then, in an utterly bizarre presser Saturday, denied it was a photo of him after all, and said he had no idea how the photo ended up on his yearbook page. To make matters worse, Northam acknowledged he actually DID wear blackface in a 1984 dance contest where he performed as Michael Jackson. Not surprisingly, Northam's insistence that he can somehow soldier on hasn't reduced the calls for him to resign, because "I didn't do blackface in that photo but yeah, I did do it elsewhere the same year" isn't really what you'd call exculpatory. It's starting to look, however, like maybe that reality could be sinking in for Northam.
Northam held a meeting with his senior staff Sunday night, which at least gave the staffers a chance to miss the Super Bowl. According to sources "familiar with" or "briefed on" the meeting, both the Washington Post and New York Times report that resignation was now being discussed. The Post says "resignation is an active consideration," while the Times went a bit further, saying "Most of the people he met with told him that resigning was the way to clear his name[.]"
The Post reports Northam also plans a larger meeting this morning with his full staff to discuss his next steps, which for chrissake need to be toward a microphone where he announces he's resigning. He's been seeking advice on whether to do that or continue trying to tough it out; first lady Pam Northam is reportedly among those telling him he should stay in office and find the real blackface career killer. You might think after she had to remind him that demonstrating his moonwalk at Saturday's presser would be inappropriate, she'd be a bit less keen on hanging in there.
The Times story focuses on the larger political stakes for Virginia politics, noting that Northam's continued presence in office could be a serious setback for Democrats hoping to take back control of the state legislature in this fall's off-year elections.
Two years ago, Democrats picked up 15 seats in the House of Delegates, where they had been locked out of the majority for more than two decades. They are now two seats away from control in both chambers.
Retaking the majority in the Lege isn't merely about how nice it would be to enact a Democratic governor's agenda -- with that governor preferably being Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would replace Northam if he steps down. Whoever controls the state legislature will be in charge of redistricting following the 2020 census -- or even in charge of voting to have a nonpartisan commission take over redistricting.
Oh, yes, and also, stepping down is just plain the right thing for Northam to do, because 30 years of hiding the fact that he performed in blackface is not something a person with integrity does, regardless of who the hell is in that photo.
In other not-quite resignation news, the Post on Saturday ran this fine piece about what this entire sorry fuck-tussle has meant for Fairfax, who on Friday night began the first steps of planning to become governor, as the calls for Northam to resign were coming from everywhere. He let his family know they might need to prepare themselves for a sudden move from Fairfax County to Richmond. But then he took calls from Northam later Friday night and Saturday morning in which the governor said he thought the yearbook photo wasn't him -- although Northam never told Fairfax any of that Michael Jackson stuff.
Here's part of why we think Justin Fairfax will make a fine governor: In the extremely uncomfortable situation of knowing Northam isn't yet ready to resign even though it's clear to almost everyone he should, Fairfax took the time to get his tone just right in an interview with WaPo.
[When] Fairfax was asked whether he believes the governor's explanations, he hesitated.
"In what respect?" Fairfax said. "I'm a lawyer and a litigator. I just want to be more precise . . . what we're talking about."
Pressed again — did he believe the governor? — he answered, "Here's what I can say: I've known Ralph for years. . . . We can generally rely on what each other said to be accurate. . . . I can't speak to what happened to him 30 years ago in medical school."
That's not wavering or avoiding the question, or even Sarah Palin asking "In what regard, Charlie?" -- that's diplomacy from a guy in an impossible rhetorical situation. If he says he believes Northam, he might be taken as implying Northam should keep fighting. If he says he doesn't believe him, then he could be seen as trying to push Northam out so he can be governor, which you just can't do as a lieutenant governor. By saying almost nothing about what Northam should do, while making clear blackface is unacceptable, Fairfax is managing to look a hell of a lot more dignified than the guy with egg and shoe polish all over his face. Pretty good quality for a potential governor, if you ask us.
[Editrix here with a HELL NAH. I see no problem whatsoever with a lieutenant governor coming out and loudly saying a real and correct thing instead of holding it in for politesse. Get the fuck out, Ralph Northam!]
Also, just to round out this whole mess, we'd just like to say it's very cute that Fox News is tut-tutting over that CNN chyron misidentifying Northam as a Republican, because how can you trust CNN, huh?
CNN -- the network that promotes the hashtag #FactsFirst -- mislabeled embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam as a Republican on Friday during a segment about the Democrat's apology for his racist 1984 medical school yearbook photo.
Everyone knows northern Africa's boundaries are uncannily like those of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. And Egypt is next door to Iran.
Hey, maybe right before he resigns, Northam should switch his party affiliation to Republican. Might salvage a little respect by trolling Fox that way.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.