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Politics, Virginia

Political operative who defended ‘Redskins’ name raises issue with candidate’s flag photo

Chris Graham
virginia politics
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This week’s dumb political controversy of the week, involving Eugene Vindman and a flag, is among the dumber ones you’ll come across.

“Millions of out of state grifter money, and he wants us to change the state flag because he campaigned with the confederate version. Is this all a Veep episode?”

That was Ben Tribbett, who is somehow still a player in Democratic politics in Virginia, which anybody responsible for that being the case should be embarrassed about, posting about the flag matter to Twitter on Tuesday.

What got the NotLarrySabato dweeb in a lather was a photo posted to social media of Vindman, the Ukraine native and retired U.S. Army colonel who’s running for the Democratic nomination in the Seventh Congressional District, holding, along with a group of supporters, a Virginia state flag.

The issue with all of this: the state flag in question dates to 1861 – yes, that 1861, the year Virginia seceded from the Union along with other slave-owning states, and joined their effort to try to overthrow the U.S. government.

Vindman, to set the scene, was a behind-the-scenes advisor to his twin brother, Alexander, who was the guy who reported that Donald Trump’s “perfect call” putting pressure on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was actually an effort by Trump to pressure Zelensky to dig up dirt that Trump could use on Joe Biden.

That this guy, who was out there on the front lines warning the world about the treasonous stuff that Trump was up to before Jan. 6, and lost his job on the National Security Council as a result, ended up posing with an 1861 Virginia state flag wasn’t something anybody involved in the photo meant to do.

The Democratic operative who posted the photo, Jim McBride, told The Washingtonian that it “appears that the flag was unintentionally included in a collection of 50 flags that were provided for use by our delegations by an out-of-state volunteer, and it has been discarded.”

Seems like a simple mistake, right?

And here’s where I’ll be honest with you: I’m a native Virginian, a decent student of our state’s history, and I can’t say for sure that, if somebody had asked me to pose for a photo with that flag, I would have noticed anything out of sorts.

The reason this is being made an issue: Vindman is among more than a dozen candidates vying for the Seventh District Democratic nomination.

And Tribbett, we have to guess, wants to see another candidate get the nomination.

Nothing wrong with that.

Maybe be up front about your motivations, but, no problem with that, either.

Nor should there be anything wrong with me pointing out that this is the same Ben Tribbett who, in 2014, was hired by the NFL team in Washington to “help guide the team’s battle over their controversial nickname,” then resigned a month later, not because he had a personal issue with the name “Redskins” – “I don’t think it is a slur,” he told the Washington Post – but because he didn’t want to be a “distraction” to the team, and also because of racist tweets he had posted during a 2010 vacation in Vegas.

Editorial comment: at least Vindman’s issue here with the flag was a mistake, and he owned up to it, as opposed to being confronted with being paid to defend a slur, and doubling down.

Also, in providing full disclosure on this matter: I neither have a dog in this fight, nor am I being paid to weigh in here.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].