A few stray thoughts about the saga of Gov. Ralph Northam:
First, quite aside from the credulity-straining explanations Northam offered, what struck me was his mediocrity, best seen by his reflex, after every opening sentence in response to a question, to pivot immediately to the rote cliches of politics, i.e., “I just want to get back to doing the important work of the people of Virginia,” etc., as if this was going to make the matter somehow go away. Bill Clinton might have been able to pull that off, but this kind self-serving and insincere rhetoric is why so many people hold politicians in contempt, and rightly so in the case of Northam. There are some moments in a politician’s life when they would be better served by at least attempting to talk like a normal human being instead of a hack.
Second, the story of applying a small amount of shoe-polish to his face as part of a Michael Jackson imitation contest in the 1980s beggars belief. It might well be true, but one wonders why anyone would think it necessary to blacken his face at the very time Michael Jackson was deliberately whitening his own. We are now fully into the theater of the absurd.
Third, and the main point of this post, Democrats are going to make sure Northam steps down. They have to for a simple reason: the Democrats’ main tactic nowadays is to accuse all Republicans of racism. If they give Northam a pass on this, it blunts their favorite attack. They can’t afford to give up this weapon because it is central to their long-term electoral strategy, which is to divide Americans between white and non-white populations, and pit them against each other. What else is the purpose of the whole leftist campaign to demonize “white privilege,” and the growing number of “whiteness studies” courses on campus whose focus is that white people are the focus of evil in the modern world? So Northam is acceptable collateral damage for the long-term interests of the party.
The evidence for this point accumulates steadily. I recall a panel at the 2017 American Political Science Association meeting blasting Hillary Clinton for having chosen Tim Kaine as her running mate instead of a minority, and declaring that if the next Democratic nominee isn’t a woman or person of color, then the running mate has to be. Mark this down as we get closer to the Democratic nomination next year. If it is Joe Biden (who can be thought of as a “legacy” candidate), he will choose a woman or a minority as his running mate. The real sin of Howard Schultz is that he is the wrong sex more than the fact that he is a billionaire.
Finally, why are liberals so obsessed with finding racism down to the microaggression level? Probably because liberals turn out to be the real racists, so they’re projecting their own racism onto their political opponents. I refer readers back to an item here from a few weeks about about the social science study that found liberals “talk down” to minorities while conservatives talk to everyone equally. Worth going back to refresh your memory.
JOHN adds: In other words, Northam has to go for the same reason Al Franken had to go.
STEVE: Yes, I had forgotten that parallel.