It’s time for Ralph Northam to accept his fate

ralph northamIt’s gotta be hard to be Ralph Northam now: his political career over, and he’s going out a laughingstock, after that odd press conference today in the Executive Mansion.

It’s natural that he’s clinging to what little he has left, hoping against hope that he can survive the night, then tomorrow, then the next day.

That’s what he has now: it’s day to day for Northam, and once he does what we all know is inevitable, that’s it.

It does no good to debate the details of how he got here. He tried to claim today that he hadn’t seen the yearbook that will be the first line in his obituary until the published reports brought to all of our attention the photo on the page dedicated to him showing two young men, one in blackface and one in a KKK hood and robe.

Doesn’t explain why he decided to respond to seeing the photo, twice, once in a print statement, the second time in a video, by acknowledging that he was one of the young men, before reversing course this morning and trying to flip the script, claiming that, you know, no, I wasn’t in that photo.

Or, why in the course of trying to explain it all away, then acknowledged that he’d dressed up some other time in blackface as part of a portrayal of pop superstar Michael Jackson, which, hello, still blackface!

So, what he’s telling us, there’s this one photo, and there may be other photos.

Trying to help you keep score at home.

He’s trying to make the plea that, hey, I’ve grown since then, I’m not that guy anymore.

We can debate that detail. Video has resurfaced of Northam refusing to shake hands with Republican opponent E.W. Jackson from a lieutenant governor debate in 2013, which, maybe we’re reading more into that now based on what’s going on than we should.

His gubernatorial campaign, in 2017, got itself into hot water for campaign flyers that omitted Justin Fairfax, an African American running for lieutenant governor, which the Northam campaign explained away at the time by saying they had been created for a labor union that wasn’t endorsing Fairfax, but, even at that time, that reasoning fell flat, and now, even more so.

But, his few remaining supporters, opening themselves up on social media, he’s a Democrat, he’s one of us, and he’s being held to a higher standard. Look at President Trump, who grabs them by the pussy, the many fine people on both sides, et cetera.

Didn’t Northam tell us back in 2017 that he voted twice for George W. Bush for president before deciding in 2007 to run for the State Senate as a Democrat?

What if it’s the case that Northam ran as a Democrat because that was the path that he saw to winning that Senate race, and then he won that one, and won again in 2011, and, hot damn, got some momentum here, maybe I should run for lieutenant governor?

By the time he won that race, Northam was next in line to run for governor.

He’s governed from the center-right, getting credit for finally persuading the General Assembly to expand Medicaid, then getting demerits for his awful record on the environment.

And then, on the issue of Confederate monuments, which he had promised to take a leadership role on back during his 2017 campaign, crickets.

Ralph Northam hasn’t earned himself a get-out-of-a-racist-photo-free card, basically.

At best, Northam is a placeholder, whose election wasn’t based on any sense of his dynamism, that he was going to bring something special to the policy table, that he had some special plan to build the Virginia economy, improve our education system.

He was just next in line, a Democrat in the right place at the right time in a blue state, running against a Republican, Ed Gillespie, who couldn’t get out of his own way.

As a placeholder, then, his only value is not making waves, and unfortunately for him, the blackface/KKK photo issue, and his bumbling response, has whipped up a Category 5.

I get it that it’s hard for him to concede that it’s over. He worked his way up from the State Senate to governor, and as of around 3 p.m. yesterday, he had to be thinking, down the line, Senate? Maybe a spot on a presidential ticket?

Those kinds of things are open to governors.

They’re not things that are open to ex-governors who resign in disgrace.

Sorry, Ralph, but, such is your fate. Time to accept it and move on.

Hey, at least you’re not Bob McDonnell.

Column by Chris Graham



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