Saturday, February 02, 2019


Virginia governor Ralph Northam is, so far, refusing to step down, and it's the most talked-about story in America:
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) faced the public Saturday and defiantly said he will not resign because he does not believe that it is him in a racist photograph from his 1984 medical school yearbook.

“I am not either of those people in that photo,” Northam told media gathered at the Executive Mansion, referring to the image of a person dressed in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe on his yearbook page....

But he alluded to other actions in his past, and disclosed that in 1984 he won a dance contest in San Antonio where he wore dark shoe polish on his cheeks as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
This is a story that pushes a lot of cultural hot buttons. I understand why it's big news. But there's no reason for it to be the biggest story in the country right now. And it doesn't make sense that a distorted interpretation of remarks Northam made about abortion on a radio show earlier this week became national news at all.

Posing in blackface or in a Klan robe is bad, but do you know what else is bad? What we were told about the conduct of then-Missouri governor Eric Greitens last year:
As he was preparing to declare his candidacy in early 2015, Greitens, who is married with children, began a sexual relationship with a woman he met at a hair salon. Though the relationship began consensually, the woman’s testimony to the legislature showed that things quickly took a darker turn. She said that when she was naked, he bound her and then took a picture and told her, “You’re not going to mention my name. Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little whore you are.”

Her account also described a sexual assault, as she said that Greitens became violent, and she felt coerced to perform oral sex in order to be allowed to leave his house....
Greitens was also facing felony charges after reportedly misusing funds collected for his veterans' charity. And yet this never became a banner-headline, wall-to-wall-cable-coverage national story. It was never as big as the Northam story is now.

And if we're just talking about racism, what about this now-departed governor?
The governor of Maine has said that people of colour were enemies of his state, and appeared to suggest they should be shot.

Speaking about Maine's effort to combat drug crime, Paul LePage said that "the enemy right now... are people of colour or people of Hispanic origin".

"When you go to war... and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red," he said....

The press conference capped a controversial 72 hours for the Republican governor.

Mr LePage was asked about a statement he made in January, in which he blamed the state's heroin problem on "guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" who "come from Connecticut and New York".

"They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave," he said.

Speaking on Wednesday, he denied it was racist, but said that since January he had been putting together a binder cataloguing drug arrests in the state, and that "90-plus per cent of those pictures in my book, and it's a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people".

Asked by reporters to provide the binder, Mr LePage replied: "Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that."
LePage was national news, but he was never huge national news.

Republicans are simply better than Democrats at forcing negative stories about the other party onto the national news agenda, and at working them until they rise to the top. And Republicans are motivated right now: They know they're going into 2020 with an unpopular incumbent president, and they're determined to make the election that year a referendum on anything but Trump.

So they're starting now. They're throwing everything they've got out there, to distract voters from Trump's words and deeds. If they're successful, we'll be voting in 2020 on whether we think Democrats are evil, not on whether we want four more years of Trump. Don't assume they can't pull that off.

No comments: