Boy howdy, Virginia is way into train-wreck territory. First, their Governor did something naughty decades ago:
A muddled defense that included moonwalking and a blackface Michael Jackson costume may be enough for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to keep his job despite widespread calls for his resignation over a racially insensitive photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
Virginia’s Constitution says elected officials who commit “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor” may be removed from office. Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, told USA TODAY “nothing that has happened so far is grounds for removal” under the state’s provisions for impeachment.
“There is nothing in his service as governor that satisfies those terms,” Tobias said.
Then, his Lieutenant Governor got accused of something more serious:
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia emphatically denied on Monday a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2004, suggesting at one point that Gov. Ralph Northam’s supporters were trying to block his ascent to the governorship at a moment when Mr. Northam is besieged by demands that he resign over charges of racism.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” Mr. Fairfax told reporters surrounding him in the rotunda of the state Capitol about whether he believes Mr. Northam, a fellow Democrat, was behind the accusation’s coming to light.
Now the third man in line, the Attorney General, has come out with some ancient shenanigans of his own:
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said Wednesday he dressed in blackface during college, elevating the Capitol’s scandals to a new level that engulfed the entire executive branch of government.
Now, Herring, Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax – the state’s three top Democrats – are each embroiled in separate scandals that threaten their careers. Also on Wednesday, the woman who has accused Fairfax of sexual assault made her first public statements, going into graphic detail of an alleged 2004 attack which Fairfax has vehemently denied.
One might feel no small amount of schadenfreude at seeing Old Dominion Democrats hoist on their own petard. While the sexual assault accusation is pretty serious – and the accuser has some pretty specific details – the other two, with Governor Northam and AG Herring, are pretty silly.
The right thing for Northam to do here is this: Call a press conference. Get as many members of the media there as his people can dig up.
Take the stage. Ask the assembled throng, “which of you here can honestly say you never did anything dumb when you were young? Raise your hands. No one? That’s what I thought.”
And he’d have a hell of a good point. My own youth was pretty much a catalog of “hey, hold my beer and watch this” events, which is why I remain to this day delighted that cell phone cameras didn’t exist in the Seventies, or there would be some embarrassing footage of me on YouTube.
But yes, that’s all this is – embarrassing. It is not nor should it be career-ending. No matter what letter you have behind your name.