Will the Next Governor of Virginia Please Stand Up?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/02/06/will-the-next-governor-of-virginia-please-stand-up/

As we all know, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is contemplating his post-political life while desperately trying to hold on as the state’s chief executive officer.

But who will be governor next week? That forecast is harder than you might think, because the options are expanding while the candidates are being diminished.

Northam, a Democrat, on Friday, February 1 admitted being in a photo of a white man in blackface standing next to a person in a white Ku Klux Klan getup that appears on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. Then the next day he denied it. But he acknowledged having put on blackface another time in 1984, when he impersonated Michael Jackson at a dance contest. Now he’s trying to prove the denial of the KKK photo, discount the blackface incident he admits to, and flip or ignore near-universal calls for his resignation.

Northam Over/Under:  End of the Week

If Northam resigns, the next up would be the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, 39, a Democrat, who is denying that he forced a woman during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 to commit a degrading sex act. (Memo to future pols:  Try not to get yourself in a situation where in the future you have to utter the words “It was consensual.”)

No evidence beyond the woman’s accusation has appeared. But Fairfax remains, as they say, “embattled.”

Fairfax Over/Under:  Off the board, since with the current set of facts he will probably survive. Unless another shoe drops, in which case …

The next up in Virginia’s line of succession is the state’s attorney general. That’s Mark Herring, 57, a Democrat, who on Wednesday, February 6 admitted that in 1980, as a 19-year-old undergraduate at the University of Virginia, he put on blackface to imitate a rapper.

There’s no Ku Klux Klan connection and at this writing no published photo. But the atmosphere of political tolerance for this sort of behavior, even nearly 40 years ago, is becoming clear.

Herring Over/Under:  The day after Northam resigns

If Herring resigns around the same time Northam and Fairfax resign, the next up in Virginia’s line of succession is the Speaker of the House of Delegates, which is the lower house in Virginia’s two-chamber legislature. That person, M. Kirkland Cox, 61, a Republican, is possibly going around burning all photos of himself from his prior life, whatever it may have been.

(There are no scandals swirling around Cox. But if you’re wondering, the next step after Cox would be for the Virginia House of Delegates to pick a new governor. (This is all according to the Code of Virginia, Section 24.2-211.) The Republicans control the chamber 51-48. After that … well, they can’t all resign, can they?)

It remains astonishing that Northam is taking heat for the egregious photo on his medical yearbook page but not as much heat for appearing to endorse last week killing a born-alive baby who survives an abortion attempt.

This is not political opponents putting words in Northam’s mouth, mind you. It’s the logical inference from what Northam said during a radio interview. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated, if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” the governor said.

(A transcript is available here.)

A “discussion,” the man said. As in:  Do you want the baby to live or die?

Northam said these words as a pediatric neurologist who addresses problems children have with their nervous system. In other words:  He knows exactly what he’s talking about.

Even more astonishing:  Northam has not backed away from what he said or attempted to explain that it means something other than what anyone hearing it would otherwise conclude.

During a press conference last week, he said his comments have been “mischaracterized,” without ever explaining how.

At that same press conference Thursday, January 31, the current third-in-line to the governorship, Attorney General Herring, criticized pro-life Republicans for exposing the logic of pro-abortion Democrats by asking them questions and accurately interpreting their answers.

The trouble began Tuesday, January 29, when a member of the House of Delegates, Kathy Tran, a Democrat, admitted under questioning from a Republican subcommittee chairman (C. Todd Gilbert, the House majority leader) that a bill she filed would allow a woman to have an abortion even at 40 weeks pregnant and even while she was in labor.

Tran says she was the subject of death threats after that incident. That’s regrettable and unacceptable. But it has nothing to do with a colleague who simply asked her to explain the practical effects of her bill.

Yet here’s what Mark Herring, the Democratic attorney general, said last week about Virginia Republicans (referring in part to the Republican Speaker of the House who could somehow wind up the next governor):

“Their political games have exposed a member of the House of Delegates to violent personal threats. And now, Kirk Cox has taken his caucus completely off the deep end, accusing Governor Northam of supporting infanticide, which would be laughable if it wasn’t such a grotesque and abhorrent claim. Governor Northam served this country in uniform. He has dedicated his entire life to the welfare of children.”

Notice that factual questions about a delegate’s bill are described as “political games” and linked somehow to “personal threats.”

Notice also that Herring calls claims that Northam endorsed infanticide “laughable” and “grotesque” and “abhorrent” – without ever denying them.

And of course, how could he? Since that’s what Northam actually said.

And come to think of it, Herring didn’t explicitly condemn infanticide, either, during his passionate defense of pre-infant-icide.

It is right to criticize decades-old ugly behavior by prominent politicians. But in this case in Virginia, their week-old ugly behavior is worse.