Embattled Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s last chance of surviving his use of blackface for entertainment in 1984 collapsed Saturday evening when Virginia’s two Democratic Senators told him to resign.
Mark Warner and Tim Kaine each called Northam after he claimed a damning yearbook photo from his medical school years wasn’t of him. In the same press conference, however, he admitted plastering his face with dark polish to appear in a Halloween dance contest as Michael Jackson.
That, both Warner and Kaine said, went over the line. Time for Northam to go.
Virginia’s governor still says he’s not resigning. Others say he has no choice. His past caught up with him.
Pasts have a way of destroying the futures of people, particularly in politics. Reactions to revelations of Alabama Judge Roy Moore’s sexual misconduct with underage girls in the 1970s angered enough voters in Alabama to do something that state normally does not — elect a Democrat to the United States Senate.
Still, others survive such revelations. Brett Kavanaugh, publicly charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl at a party during his prep school days, won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Racism is a hot-button issue in Virginia, a big deal. So is political payback. Northam’s questionable past actions came to light in a short article by Patrick Howley, editor if Big League Politics, a website he co-owns with Noel Fritch, a political consultant for Corey Stewart, the conservative neo-Confederate sympathizer who lost to Kaine in the Senate race last year and Reilly O’Neal, consultant for Roy Moore.
In its short existence, the website has reliably boosted (Donald) Trump, attacked Democrats and liberal figures and written many articles promoting a discredited conspiracy theory popular among far-right conservatives about the murder of a young Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Rich in 2016.
Howley disagrees with the Post assessment. He describes Big League Politics as “independent journalism. It’s not Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative. I want it to be an investigative wire service that gets the facts out there.”
Critics of Howley note that he previously worked with The Daily Caller and Breitbart News, two hardcore right-wing websites.
Howley says the “tip” to the Northam story came from “a concerned citizen” and not a political source. He also says the photo of Northam “and a friend” is confirmed but won’t cite the source.
For Northam, it doesn’t matter if the yearbook photo is of him or not. He admits participating in a Halloween event that same year in blackface and doing a Michael Jackson “moonwalk” that won a contest.
“Youthful exuberance?” Perhaps, but those more sensitive to expressions of racism say such actions show a casualness towards insults to African-Americans.
In 48 hours, a Virginia governor who enjoyed widespread bipartisan support became a political pariah to both Democrats and Republicans.
“What’s past is prologue,” Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest.
A proverb may say it better: “What goes around come around.”
A person’s actions, whether good or bad, have consequences.
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