Republicans smell blood in the water in Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam’s career seems to be nearing an end after the revelation of racist pictures in his college yearbook. With even Democrats calling for Northam’s resignation, Republicans are ready to take a scalp, but if the focus is on vilifying the governor and forcing his resignation, pro-life conservatives will have missed a valuable opportunity to frame the abortion debate.
Prior to the publication of Northam’s yearbook photo depicting one man in blackface and another in a klansman’s robes and hood, the furor was about Northam’s radio interview in which he defended a controversial bill that would have permitted abortion of full-term babies. The real scandal is that Gov. Northam advocated allowing babies to be born and left to die, not that he wore blackface 30 years ago as a college student.
Focusing on Northam’s actions form 30 years ago is hypocritical for Republicans, most of whom were arguing six months ago that college hijinx from the 1980s were irrelevant in performing a job today. Republicans were right to defend Brett Kavanaugh under similar circumstances last year but have now surrendered that point of moral clarity to the notion that there should be no forgiveness for past actions if the perpetrator is a member of the opposite party.
Forcing Northam out would likely be a Pyrrhic victory. The governor would be replaced by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a young, black Democrat who is described as “more progressive” than Northam. Republicans would give the advantage of incumbency to a man who could become another Democrat rock star.
The bigger issue is not what Northam did in 1984, it’s what he said last week. The issue of late-term abortion and infanticide is much more pressing and serious than whether Northam wore blackface 30 years ago. It is also an indictment of the entire Democratic Party.
While only a few Democrats would support wearing blackface, a large part of the party would support the abortion bill. It is on the issue of abortion, not blackface, that Democrats are extreme and out of the American mainstream.
I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but the speed with which the debate changed makes me wonder whether the Democrats themselves might have leaked the embarrassing picture of Northam. At the drop of a hat, Democrats shifted from an embarrassing defense of the indefensible to attacking one of their own for racial indiscretions. All of a sudden, no one was talking about the Democrat plan to let babies die.
It’s unlikely that the Democrats made a conscious decision to sacrifice Gov. Northam to the god of abortion, but the immolation of his career did create a distraction from the bigger issue. That’s a very good thing for Democrats.
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