Whitbeck Must Lead

Everyone Republican in Virginia should tune in and hear RPV Chairman John Whitbeck’s interview on The John Fredericks Show from Monday morning, because it encapsulates that absolute failure of leadership we’ve experienced by Whitbeck during his tenure.

Whitbeck went on the radio show to let Virginians know that Burgos’ behavior is “unacceptable.” Unfortunately, this rings hallow, because we learn from Whitbeck that this event (Burgos’ Facebook post) actually happened about week ago.

Stop right there and let that sink it. This happened a week ago and there was no public statement released by Whitbeck or RPV until last night, after Bearing Drift shined a light on it.  Now, Whitbeck described how he immediately called Burgos the morning after the post to resign and do the right thing.  But Burgos just ignored him, because he can. And Whitbeck said nothing about it for a week.

Here’s where the failure of leadership becomes clear.

During the interview, Whitbeck says that he told Burgos, “I don’t have the power to remove you,” and then went on to tell Burgos how the State Central process could work to remove him. Whitbeck then tells Fredericks, “It’s my understanding Fairfax County Committee and State Central Committee are getting signatures to get it done” — which means that Whitbeck is literally sloughing the process off on others so that it is out of his hands. He actually puts the onus off on SCC several times during the interview.

How is this leadership?

John Fredericks asked if Whitbeck was going to do a press conference on the matter and Whitbeck said that he didn’t think that a press conference “advances the ball” and, “I don’t see that it makes a difference.”

What Whitbeck doesn’t seem to understand or care is that not holding a press conference to denounce a bigoted member of the State Central Committee — as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia —  is what makes a difference. Because this isn’t the first or second or third time Burgos has made bigoted comments in the past couple of years. We all know that — those instances are well documented here; in fact, Bearing Drift first called for Burgos’ resignation in 2016 after he made bigot remarks about Muslims.  Whitbeck’s absence of speaking out when this has happened in the past has given Burgos the platform to continue to speak this way.  Burgos’ comments have been a  consistent problem under Whitbeck’s watch, and Whitbeck has done nothing about it yet.

Even more astoundingly, Whitbeck actually assures the radio listeners that asking Burgos to resign by phone last week “wasn’t a personal thing. I’ve known Freddy for a long time, he’s a really nice guy.  He works very hard.”

Hey, everyone! The guy who has written intolerable remarks multiple times in the last few years is a “really nice guy.”

Whitbeck then goes on to demur again, saying, “If it [Burgos’ removal] doesn’t happen in proper channels ... I’d be shocked.”  See here how Whitbeck deflects to lead by couching it in terms of “proper channels” and “shocked” so he can wash his hands of leading on this issue. There are things Whitbeck could actually do as Chairman with regard to Burgos’ removal (we’ll get to that below) but instead, he is creating the narrative that he can’t do anything —  because if SCC actually fails to remove Burgos, he can point to them and say it was SCC’s fault, so he remains without blame.

Kudos to John Fredericks for bluntly telling Whitbeck, “If you can’t muster 2/3 to oust this guy, let me tell you, John — you don’t have a Party. You’ve got nothing. To me, this thing is that serious, John.”  Frederick gets it.

Unfortunately, Whitbeck doesn’t. Whitbeck tells us that “the reason we got destroyed in General Assembly and statewide had a lot to do with the Democrat message that we’re racist. When we do stupid things like these Facebook posts, it just feeds the narrative. It makes it easier for Democrats to beat us.”

What’s ironic, however, is that because Whitbeck has failed to denounce Burgos for his posts in the past, Whitbeck has allowed the very racism that Whitbeck complains the Democrats hurled at us and beat us with. Because the cancer wasn’t removed in the past two years, it has been allowed to metastasize until this moment now, when we literally have a member of the State Central Committee — representing the Republican Party of Virginia — suggesting that we shouldn’t elect a Jewish person because he is not a Christian. This failure of leadership up until now is absolutely repugnant.

Whitbeck deflects one final time again saying, “That’s why it’s up to all SCC members to stand up and say, ‘This guy’s gotta go, he’s gotta resign.’ ” No. It was up to Whitbeck to do that first. But he didn’t. He hasn’t. By refusing to publicly say anything until Bearing Drift wrote about it yesterday, Whitbeck shows his true colors.

Whitbeck could call an emergency meeting of State Central Committee instead of waiting until the next meeting in late March to deal with this.

Whitbeck could declare the seat vacant.

He is willfully choosing to do neither.

Burgos cannot continue to represent the Republican Party of Virginia in a leadership role. Burgos has refused to resign, repeatedly. Whitbeck must do more than just hope that it will get done.