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Democrats: We’re our own worst enemies

democrats republicansVirginia Democrats are in a turmoil of their own making, which is to say, if it was a Republican caught up in what the party’s top three elected officials are accused of, there’d certainly be no repercussions, political or otherwise.

How do we know that?

Donald Trump is president; Brett Kavanaugh is sitting on the Supreme Court; Mitch McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader.

Trump, three weeks before the 2016 presidential election, was on video, from a decade before, bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” and how he got away with it because he was a “star.”

You remember that. Top Republicans denounced him; his candidacy seemed dead in the water.

There was speculation about him being replaced on the ticket, is how bad it got, publicly, anyway.

Trump, spoiler, would go on to win the election, which put him in a position to, among other things, nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Say what you will about double standards in terms of the treatment of Kavanaugh and Justin Fairfax, the sitting Virginia lieutenant governor, but … Kavanaugh, at the end of the day, is a sitting Supreme Court justice, confirmed by the Senate, after a contentious several weeks leading into the 2018 midterms, and the Republican Senate that confirmed him actually grew its majority in the subsequent midterms.

Fairfax, for his part, we’ll see where he is in the morning, is the best we can say about him.

And then, McConnell. In the wake of the photo of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in blackface – that he now says is not a photo of him in blackface, though he initially acknowledged being in the photo, before backtracking, and saying, no, not me in that photo, though I did dress up in blackface another time – anyway, back to McConnell: a photo of him apparently accepting an award related to a Confederacy organization, in front of a battle flag, has surfaced.

If anything, this will only boost McConnell’s standing among the base. Right?

Confederate flag photos, sexual assaults at high-school parties, felony sexual battery on TV sets, immaterial, to the Republican base.

Now, that same base, holy crap, a Democrat dressed up as a black guy to win a dance contest or sing a rap song?

Impeach him!

Whatever Justin Fairfax did or didn’t do in a Boston hotel room in 2004, that base knows already that he’s on his way out, because that’s what Democrats do.

The Democratic base holds its leaders to higher standards, which is to say, basic standards, of decency.

We’ll never know what happened in that Boston hotel room. The victim in the case didn’t report it to authorities at the time, meaning there’s no physical evidence, and it doesn’t appear that she confided in anyone contemporaneously, only coming forward years later.

Fair or unfair to her, that does open the door for questions into her story.

Fair or unfair to Fairfax, the story she’s telling is compelling enough that it can’t be dismissed out of hand.

Nuance has no place in today’s political climate, so …

Impeach him, too!

That’s what the Republican base says.

The Democratic base isn’t sure which end is up.

The reflex action on that side is, racism, obviously bad, people accused of sexual assault, obviously bad.

And then, all at once, three standard-bearers are accused at once.

As of this past Friday, after lunch, Northam was a hero to Virginia Democrats for finally getting Medicaid reform enacted, after five years of trying from Northam and his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe.

Fairfax, meanwhile, was approaching hero status, for sitting out the usual State Senate tribute to Robert E. Lee on Lee-Jackson Day.

I don’t know that too many felt one way or the other about Mark Herring, the sitting, at this moment, attorney general, though, yeah, he’d been elected to statewide office twice, and was assumed to be a front-runner for the party nomination for governor in 2021.

Where Virginia Democrats find themselves now is in the incredibly uncomfortable position of saying, OK, remember how we all demanded a few days ago that Northam resign?

Um …

Yeah. The side that prides itself on its principled stands is now reduced to taking the air out of the ball and hoping the clock runs out.

You can bet, with such certainty that Vegas would never take odds on this, that there are oppo-researchers on the D side working overtime to find any and all dead bodies in the closets of prominent Virginia Rs.

Which is to say, Virginia Rs, if you weren’t thinking this way already, get yourselves ready, because a part two to this shitstorm is coming, and the forecast is for a Category 5, or better, or worse, as the case may be.

But, that’s the politics end of things.

More on the politics: the stakes here are the November General Assembly elections. Democrats, as of lunch last Friday, seemed to be clear favorites to take both the House and Senate, which means: Ds get to draw the district lines after the next census, in 2020.

If the election was tomorrow, the race is a toss-up, and I say that knowing what I’m saying.

Yes, Republicans try to anchor local Democrats running for the House and Senate with the bozos at the top of the food chain, and African American voters – 20 percent of the electorate, thus translating to roughly 40 percent of the Democratic base – are going to be de-energized, considering.

But, the election isn’t tomorrow; there are still nine long months between now and Election Day.

Which means: time for Northam, who, wow, congratulations to him, sorta, kinda, for surviving this, by default, time for Fairfax, time for Herring, time for the local candidates, to reconnect with their base, and put the focus back on what had brung them there in the first place, in terms of policy initiatives.

It also means: plenty of time for Republicans to either figure out how to reach out to voters who, today, feel disaffected, or, and this is what is going to happen, not do that, because, that’s not what the modern Republican Party is about, at all.

The focus on that side will be doing as much as possible to depress Democratic base turnout, so, expect campaign themes focused on playing up blackface, playing up sexual assault, almost to a point of celebrating how Democrats, and their voters, are little more than cynical hypocrites.

Democrats, and their voters, are nothing if not masters at self-destruction, see: 2016 election, and the generated internal controversies over debate questions, superdelegates, why didn’t Hillary visit Wisconsin.

Republicans, and their voters, possess nothing in the like resembling any kind of self-awareness, which is why we are where we are, with a president elected after admitting to sexual assault, whose approval with the base shot up after he made a moral equivalency between Nazis and Nazi protestors, one of whom ended up dead.

That’s the funny part to this, and yes, I’m trying to find humor here, because this has me depressed, distressed, compressed, the rest.

If a photo of Northam or Herring in blackface had emerged ahead of the Democratic primaries in 2013 or 2017, we might have to strain to remember their names, because they wouldn’t have been nominated, and, same for Fairfax, with respect to his sexual-assault allegation.

Republicans were thisclose to nominating Corey Stewart, whose push to preserve Confederate monuments breathed life into the white nationalist movement that precipitated the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, to run for governor; and did nominate Ed Gillespie, whose campaign ran TV ads scaring voters to pull the lever motivated by racist caricatures of Latinos and African Americans.

Where I was getting at with a funny part to this: any of the three Democrats in turmoil run with photos in blackface or sexual-assault allegations, and they don’t lose the primaries because of any of that, but, arguably, because, that’s all you got?

Now, if you’ll excuse me after this update on Virginia politics, I think I need a shower.

Column by Chris Graham

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