The rehabilitation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is complete, and the Washington Post could not be happier for him.
And the price paid by the Democrat for admitting and denying this year that he once dressed up in either blackface or Ku Klux Klan robes was: exactly nothing. Northam paid no political price whatsoever following the discovery this year of yearbooks that show he also went by the nickname “coonman.”
And you know what? That is okay, according to the Post’s editorial board. The governor says he is sorry, and his office has shifted its focus to racial issues, and, darn it, that is good enough.
Since Feb. 1, the editorial board writes, Northam "has expressed remorse and projected what many Virginians regard as genuine humility,”
Ah, yes, the “people say” formulation for asserting one’s own opinion. It is a newsroom favorite.
To recap: Northam’s page in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook includes a photo of two men at a costume party, one dressed in blackface and one dressed in KKK robes. The governor was 25 years old at the time of the yearbook's publication. A separate yearbook unearthed this year also shows that Northam went by the nickname “coonman” when he attended the Virginia Military Institute.
After the costume party photo was published on Feb. 1, the governor apologized, suggesting he was the one who posed in blackface. However, by the next day, after it became clear his apology was not going to kill the scandal, Northam denied he was one of the men in the yearbook photo. Absurdly enough, even as he denied appearing in the picture, Northam admitted he “vividly” remembers donning blackface to look like Michael Jackson for a separate event in 1984.
The governor has yet to explain his conflicting responses, including that he apologized for appearing in a photo he now denies appearing in. Never mind all that, says the Post. Don’t get hung up on the details.
The main reason Northam is in the clear, aside from the fact that no one likes Republicans, is because of his sudden and not-at-all-cynical dedication to the mission of racial reconciliation, the Post’s editorial board argues.
“That speech,” concludes the editorial, in reference to an address the governor gave in August commemorating the arrival 400 years ago of the first African slaves in North America, “earned Mr. Northam a standing ovation from a crowd that was heavily African American. Quite a comeback, and a hard-earned one, for a governor who could scarcely show his face in public in February.”
Speaking of faces, the Post’s editorial this weekend marks an about-face from February, back when the paper called on the governor to resign over his “shifting and credulity-shredding explanations for the racist photograph.”
“How could he possibly have admitted to something as damning as appearing in the photo if he was certain he wasn’t one of the people in it? How did that photo wind up on his page if he didn’t furnish it to the yearbook editors? What do the governor’s now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t statements say about his judgment?” the Post asked of questions that still have not been answered.
The February editorial concluded, “The explanations Mr. Northam has proffered are vague and unconvincing. Virginians deserve better. Mr. Northam’s time is up.”
The Post’s reasons for calling on Northam to resign still apply. The governor still has not said whether he is the person in blackface or the KKK robes in the photo. He also has not explained why he claimed he is not the person in the photo after admitting he was. He has taken responsibility for nothing. And as far as his administration’s racial reconciliation efforts are concerned, it is pretty funny that there is no mention in the Post’s editorial of when the first lady of Virginia handed out samples of raw tobacco and cotton to state Senate pages, including three African Americans, during a February tour of the governor’s mansion and instructed them to picture what it would be like to pick the crop as a slave.
In fact, the only thing that has changed between now and the Post’s call for Northam to resign is that his office says it is very serious about fighting racism, which is apparently good enough for the paper’s editorial board.
As it turns out, you can be forgiven for just about anything by the Post so long as you have the correct politics. And if you don’t believe me, just ask the late “champion of health care” Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.