Once the yearbook photo emerged, and the central question of Governor Northam’s political career was “is he the guy in blackface or the guy in the Klan robes?”, it seemed obvious to everyone that he would soon retire.
That consensus only strengthened as nearly everybody called for him to resign, including 2020 Democratic candidates, Rep. Don McEachin, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus, and both the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses.
After the Governor’s underwhelming apology video yesterday, when word got out that there would be a press conference this morning, everyone assumed the Governor would see the writing on the wall.
Not so fast.
We made the decision to let Governor Northam do the correct thing and resign this morning – we have gotten word he will not do so this morning.
— Virginia Democrats (@vademocrats) February 2, 2019
According to reporting from John Martin of the New York Times:
The governor has also been calling his former med school classmates to jog their memories. He does NOT think he is the man in Klan hood or blackface and doesn’t want to resign before trying to determine who is in that photo.
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 2, 2019
On one hand: okay, if the central question of your political career is “which one are you”, and the answer is neither, and perhaps that’s worth getting to the bottom of.
On the other hand, regardless if Northam isn’t either person in the picture, why did he include the picture on his yearbook page?
There is no worthwhile explanation to this. The photo shocks the consciousness. It doesn’t matter who’s in the picture. It’s his picture, on his yearbook page. What scenario makes this okay? Were they his friends, and he wanted to remember them and their wacky racist hi-jinks? Was this a particular highlight in the medical college years of our Governor? Were they two random strangers, but Northam happened upon the picture and said, “Yeah, sure, that’s how I want folks to remember me.”
If this were a photo with no origination or sourcing, and someone accused Northam of being one of the two without evidence, then it would be important to figure out what’s going on. This isn’t that. Northam has to resign, and I don’t see his futile efforts to investigate this changing the minds of any Democrat who’s already called for his resignation.
Never mind the fact that he already publicly apologized for being in the picture.
Politically speaking, even if Northam isn’t one of the two people, his political career is already over. His entire caucus and the Congressional delegation and his predecessor in office have all called for him to go. Northam held a press conference earlier this week where he doubled-down on his support for late-term abortions. He was flanked by prominent Democrats on camera. Those are artifacts of the pass. No prominent Democrat is going to share the stage with Northam again, even if he stays in office and dares the Legislature to impeach him.
The longer Northam keeps this charade up, the worse it looks for Virginia Democrats and all Democrats. The 2020 candidates have already made their positions known. They can continue to score points railing against him, and they will. There’s no sweeping this under the rug.
My guess is that the Governor and his family will come to their senses sooner than later, but it apparently won’t be today. Stay tuned.