The Corner

Virginia’s Leaders Want to Do the Right Thing, but Only If It’s Easy

On February 1, Virginia governor Ralph Northam declared in a video, “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.” The next day he said he was mistaken and that he had not appeared in either a Klan outfit or blackface, aside from once impersonating Michael Jackson in a dance contest.

A cynic would argue that Northam’s quickly rescinded admission meant that he was willing to admit his actions and apologize, as long as those actions would not cost him the governorship. The moment it became clear that admission and apology would not be sufficient, he offered the implausible series of excuses of someone putting the photo on the page as a prank or a mix-up. To believe Northam’s account, you have to believe he’s one of the unluckiest men alive. (Governor Blackface now says he intends to spend the remainder of his term talking to constituents about the problems presented by “white privilege” and his newfound understanding of the phenomenon. Getting to keep your governorship under these circumstances would appear to be a prime example of privilege.)

If Justin Fairfax is innocent of the accusations against him, he is also one of the unluckiest men alive. Two women from his past have separately come forward accusing him of sexual assault; at least one of the women has no discernible partisan motivation for making a false charge.

Fairfax said Friday night, “It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me.” He has not elaborated on who would be orchestrating that vicious and coordinated smear campaign against him and why, or why the women would be willing to lie about him.

State attorney general Mark Herring’s declaration that he wore blackface forces Democrats into a position of declaring that some instances of wearing blackface require removal from office as a consequence and some don’t — that doing so in med school is unacceptable but doing so as an undergrad is forgivable. That is the position of the state party, which is, so far, calling for Northam and Fairfax to resign but not Herring.

Almost every Virginia Democratic lawmaker called for Northam’s resignation a week ago — when they thought they would be replacing Northam with a young African-American who could run for a full term himself. Now the accusations against Fairfax are at least as serious as the one against Northam, and at least one Northern Virginia Democrat is calling for Fairfax’s impeachment.

The difficult question for Democratic state lawmakers is, how do you keep any of these guys without enacting a laughable double standard?

We are led by people who believe in doing the right thing, as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. Northam was willing to admit he was in the photo if he wouldn’t have to resign; state Democrats were willing to remove Northam as long as his replacement would be another Democrat. David Leonhardt explicitly argued this week, “There should always be a way to remove an unfit leader from office without flipping the partisan control of that office.” Asking a party to sacrifice control of an office in order to remove an embarrassingly scandalous or incompetent leader is apparently too much to ask.

No doubt some Democrats will argue that if old yearbook photos cost two top Democrats their jobs, then Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment must resign as well. He’s not pictured in blackface or have an image of that on his page, but he was managing editor of a yearbook that included it, 51 years ago.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
Film & TV

A Sublime Christian Masterpiece of a Film

‘There are two ways through life -- the way of nature and the way of grace,” remarks the saintly mother at the outset of The Tree of Life, one of the most awe-inspiring films of the 21st century. She continues: Grace doesn’t try please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked, accepts insults ... Read More