As the state of Virginia scrambles to get its house right, POTUS delivers the #SOTU just down the road.
Are you a bleeding-heart liberal? Devoted Democrat? Just a plain old Proud American? I’m all of the above, and boy, do I feel bruised, kicked in the ol’ psyche as this week is winding to an end. I haven’t felt this soul-tired since the bad old days of He Whose Name We Do Not Speak (shhhhh…Kavanaugh). I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s been going on in Virginia, and it really has me down — and then I got mad as hell when I realized how gleeful everyone in the White House must be about the mishegas occurring just down the road.
That’s when I understood what I’m sure wiser minds than mine, like that belonging to Karine Jean-Pierre, for example, must have grasped all along: Yes, Governor Northam must resign…but that’s not going to assuage this uneasy feeling. It’s not going to repair this sense of being bruised. Not as long as POTUS is in the White House.
Let’s recap: Yes, Virginia, it has been a bad week. A day after his answer to a radio interview question about abortion was taken as advocating for infanticide (nope), a photo of Northam’s med school yearbook surfaced. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now: Three of the photos are innocuous; the fourth, by now, is infamous, showing one figure in blackface, and one in KKK garb. A plethora of bipartisan statements ensued, calling for Northam’s resignation. Northam first issued an apology, then later that night took to Twitter so Virginians could hear directly from him. The next day, he held a news conference that was arguably one of the worst-managed in recorded history, rocketing the situation into a stratosphere of ridiculousness that gave any previously uncommitted Democrats no choice but to insist that Northam step down. First it was him in the photo, then it wasn’t him; he wasn’t wearing blackface in that photo, but he’d later worn blackface in a Michael Jackson dance contest where apparently putting shoe polish on his face was necessary to demonstrate his dance skills? And he nearly showed us his dance skills in the news conference, but for his wife.
You may need to get a drink here. I suggest a cocktail. I’ll wait.
Northam, as you know, has insisted he can remain effective as Governor, even though he has seemingly done everything in his power to prove the contrary. Meanwhile, on Friday, pundits began to air out the praises of Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, a former Assistant US Attorney who is widely known as a rising star in the Democratic party. After Northam’s bizarre performance on Saturday, the rush to install Fairfax in office was on — and I, for one, was excited about Virginia having this fine man as its leader, if only Northam would Do The Right Thing. But then Sunday rolled around and, pump the brakes. A professor at Scripps College, Vanessa Tyson, came forward with sexual assault claims against Fairfax. Fairfax denies these claims; both sides have lawyered up.
This storm system remained in place from Sunday until Wednesday. On Wednesday, two events: Ms. Tyson came forward with an intensely disturbing detailed version of the events that she alleges transpired between her and Lt. Gov. Fairfax; and the man who is third in line to become Governor of Virginia, Attorney General Mark R. Herring, volunteered that he, too, had worn blackface, in his instance as a 19-year-old at a college party (still wrong).
That’s where we are right now. It has unquestionably been a bad week, to say the least, leaving a depressing heaviness surrounding first race and now, again, #MeToo. I’m sure that the issues in Richmond will get sorted out, one way or the other…sometime. And that’s great, and the opportunity to have a conversation around these issues is, ultimately, a good thing. The problem is, though, that even after the resolution comes, and the conversations are had, 109 miles down the road, #POTUS remains in residence.
Therein lies the problem. No, we cannot accept a racism or sexual assault, wherever it lives. But that means we have to stop turning a blind eye to it in the White House, and call it what it is, every day, without relenting, and admit to ourselves that we Americans have elected a racist misogynist who stands accused of multiple accounts of sexual assault to the highest office in our land. And we have to, once and for all, face up to what that says about us as a people.
This is the dance contest that ends in us performing “Man In The Mirror.” Is orange shoe polish in poor taste?