Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s public self-immolation is going on for so long, it’s almost like the Hanukkah story of the small bottle of oil that miraculously kept burning for eight days and nights. Only I can’t imagine anyone ever turning this into a holiday.
It also reminds me of the Mel Brooks movie “Blazing Saddles,” in that it started with a state governor doing something unconscionable, turned into a story of racism, brought in a guy in a KKK robe and an aborted dance number, and the story got goofier with each passing minute until it devolved into complete insanity.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a round-up of what happened prior to Northam's weekend press conference:
And then came Saturday’s press conference, which was the equivalent of the finale of “Blazing Saddles,” where the craziness went so over-the-top, it broke through the walls and spilled out into the parking lot.
While continuing to resist demands from all sides for his resignation, Northam (who, the day before, had admitted to being one of the students in either blackface or a KKK hood in his medical school yearbook photo) claimed he now believes he’s not in the photo. He is considering using facial recognition software to see if that’s him. Two points: first, I didn’t think anyone needed facial recognition software to tell them if the person in a photo was them. Seems like you’d know that. Second, I think the Nobel Prize should go to whoever was smart enough to invent software that could recognize a face through a KKK hood.
But the wackiness didn’t stop there: remember, he’s “workin’ for Mel Brooks!” He went on to deny being at the party where that photo was taken, but did admit to once attending a party where he darkened his face with makeup to impersonate Michael Jackson so he could perform the Moonwalk. When a reporter asked if he could still do the Moonwalk, Northam appeared to be willing, until his wife stepped in and declared it “inappropriate circumstances.” He should be thanking God every day for his wife.
To be intellectually consistent and nonpartisan, I suppose I should defend his right to presumption of innocence if he denies the accusation, although it is harder when he already admitted it, then retracted his admission (sounds like he really did master the art of walking backwards like Michael Jackson.) And whether he’s in it or not, students reportedly got to pick the photos that appeared on their yearbook pages, and that’s what he picked. But wait: he also claims he doesn’t recall picking it. Confused enough yet?
I also don’t like the current practice of destroying people for violating societal standards years before those standards were invented or when they were too young to know better – although you’d think medical school students in the 1980s would know even then that blackface and Klan robes weren’t, like, totally righteous, dude. Gag me with a spoon.
So what I’m going to do is set aside for now the issues of whether he was in those racist photos or is a hypocrite who accuses others of racism (see this link for more on that)…
The media can continue digging into those questions after he resigns over what he should have resigned for before those photos ever emerged: his horrific comments about babies born alive during an abortion (that they should be “kept comfortable” while the parents and doctors have a discussion about whether to get them medical care or murder them. He didn’t put it that way, of course; I just replaced his gaseous euphemisms with something more accurate.)
As Governor of Arkansas, the worst duty I had to perform was signing off on executions. I didn’t want to overrule judges and juries who had sat through trials and carefully considered all the evidence. But I also didn’t want to take the chance of allowing someone to be executed if there were any mitigating factors or exculpatory evidence that had gone overlooked. In every death penalty case, I read the case files and court records carefully, looking to see if there was any legitimate reason why the death penalty should not be imposed. Taking a life, even of a convicted killer, is the ultimate punishment the state can impose. That’s why it is applied only to those who have violated the sanctity of life themselves by taking the lives of others.
The responsibility for protecting life doesn’t just apply to decisions about death penalty cases. Governors have to make many decisions that can result in life-or-death consequences, from police and prison oversight to health care decisions. Nobody should be entrusted with that high office who does not understand and appreciate the sanctity of human life and the heavy responsibility for protecting it that goes with the job.
So for that reason – Northam’s shocking failure to grasp the most obvious examples of his duty to protect innocent life (abortion up through the moment of birth is wrong, and when a baby that has already been born under any circumstances is struggling to live, you get it medical care RIGHT NOW!) is more than reason enough to demand that he resign immediately.
And again, to be intellectually consistent, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should also resign immediately.