Friday, February 8, 2019

Over the River and Through the Woods, VA Democrats Face Choice, the Racist, the Rapist or the Other Racist

Embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) appeared to be in a stronger position Thursday as the scandals engulfing the state’s other two top officeholders made it less likely he would be forced to step down during the General Assembly session.

Most Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation stood by their call for him to resign over a racist photo in a 1984 yearbook and his use of blackface that same year, but some privately acknowledged that the reckoning might have to wait. They took a softer stand toward Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), refraining from calling for his resignation over a blackface incident from his college days.

The delegation could not agree on what to say about Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who denies allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.

In Richmond, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus echoed those positions late Thursday after long behind-the-scenes deliberations. The lawmakers renewed their call for Northam to resign, an action that emphasized how isolated he continues to be over the photo depicting someone in blackface and someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. Northam was 25 at the time.

But the black caucus, an influential group within Democratic circles, stopped short of calling for Herring’s ouster over his admission Wednesday that he darkened his face to imitate a rapper during a college party in 1980 when he was 19.

“While we appreciate the candor of Attorney General Herring’s disclosure, we await further action on his part to reassure the citizens of the Commonwealth of his fitness for leadership,” the caucus said in a statement.

On Fairfax, the caucus said the “troubling allegations” that he sexually assaulted a woman in Boston during the 2004 Democratic National Convention should be investigated.

“Everybody is still grappling with the allegation and trying to — we all believe it should be taken seriously, but I don’t think you’ll see us reach a conclusion about that,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who added that the lawmakers would monitor events. “We’re going to watch it over the next couple of days.”
Here's my totally unbiased take on this all. Both Northam and Herring have pleaded guilty to the public of non-crimes, culturally appropriating black skins, fairly early in their youths (though Northham was in his final year in med school, he should really have known better), and before their political careers were even close to being in the offing. If it weren't the Democrats were demanding Republican heads for similar childish thought crimes, I would give them a pass. But you made the rules, I hope you like them.

Fairfax, on the other hand, was already in politics, serving as John Edwards' body man, when the alleged attack took place, (and from the attackers accounts, it would be rape in almost any jurisdiction). The woman who alleges the attack is a fellow black Democrat, so a political motivation for a false allegation seems unlikely, although a personal one cannot be ruled out. He is certainly entitled to reasonable doubt, and due process, but it seems unlikely that this "she said he said" can be settled on a factual basis. He also benefits a bit by being the black guy in the mix. But if a contemporary account or another victim declares herself, watch out!

Following the Democrats own rules, blackface is bad, and disqualifying for office, and all women must be believed, so the pressure to get rid of all three is intense. Unfortunately, that would mean turning the governorship over to Kirk Cox, (R), the Speaker of the VA House of Delegates, who has the distinction of being elected by a pick out of a hat, courtesy of a tied election. Virginia Democrats are squirming as they seek to find a way through this without turning control of the state back to Republicans.

At this point, I expect all three to hang on for dear life. Make 'em squirm.

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