Virginia’s inconvenient governor

Say what you want about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. They were a century or two ahead of Virginia Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam.

Sure Washington, Jefferson, Lee, and Jackson owned slaves, as was the practice in Virginia during their times. And yes, Lee and Jackson were key military leaders for the Confederacy.

But as far as we know, none of the four ever mocked blacks and none ever celebrated an organization that terrorized them.

If the left is going to keep pushing for name changes and statue removal in Virginia, it’s going to need a new governor.

It wants one. Desperately. Demands for Northam’s resignation are pouring in.

Recognizing that an apology isn’t going to cut it, Northam now claims, contrary to an earlier admission, that he isn’t in the offending picture that appeared on his yearbook page. But he can’t explain how it got there. Nor can how explain how he got the nickname “Coonman.”

The Virginia Pilot researched the burning question of how pictures found their way on to student pages of the 1984 yearbook of the Eastern Virginia Medical School. The answer isn’t exactly a shocker:

Interviews with EVMS alumni indicate that students were each given a half page and submitted their own photos to be published on those pages.

So now we can be reasonably confident that Northam was a racist in 1984 and is a liar today. He’s also into infanticide, if anyone cares about that.

Will Northam stick to his guns and refuse to resign? If so, will he be able to keep his job?

I don’t know the answer to either question. As to the second, the Virginia constitution apparently has an impeachment procedure similar to the one applicable to the U.S. president. The House of Delegates can bring impeachment charges and the state Senate can remove the governor.

However, there’s a substantive difference between the two constitutions on what amounts to an impeachable offense. The Virginia constitution is clear that impeachment is limited to cases where an official has offended “against the Commonwealth by malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, or other high crimes or misdemeanor.” An offensive yearbook page from 1984 doesn’t meet this standard under any fair analysis. (Nor does it meet the U.S. Constitution’s standard, for that matter).

I suppose Virginia’s delegates and senators could ignore the state constitution and impeach/remove Northam simply because they want to. In that regard, it would be interesting to know how many Virginia delegates and senators have one or more racist (or racially tinged, to use the popular weasel words of today) antic in their past.

It would also be interesting to know why Northam’s Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race, “Easy” Ed Gillespie and his campaign team did not discover Northam’s med school yearbook (I assume it didn’t discovery it). Probably because Gillespie is above searching for this kind of largely irrelevant (to the fair-minded) ancient dirt.

If Gillespie had uncovered and used the yearbook, he would probably be Virginia’s governor today. Republicans will have to learn to play by Democratic rules.

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