Report: Northam now not sure it's him in the photo, wants to use facial recognition software

Every week in American politics is a “Veep” episode now, but this is an especially lively one.

Would this dude have us believe he received his med school yearbook in 1984, flipped to his entry, saw an ultra-racist photo, and thought, “Huh, that’s not me. Oh well.” — and then just shrugged and forgot about it?

Literally the first line of the statement he released last night admitted that the picture was “a photograph of me … in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.” Twelve hours later, he’s developed amnesia:

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, facing intense pressure to resign from fellow Democrats after admitting that he posed for a photo in a racist costume as a medical student more than 30 years ago, was calling state Democrats on Saturday to say he did not think it was him in the picture and that he would not resign

In addition to calling state Democratic officials, Mr. Northam has been calling former classmates at Eastern Virginia Medical School in an effort to determine more information about the picture — and to survive a crisis that is threatening his year-old governorship.

With the governor and his top advisers gathered in the executive residence next to the State Capitol in Richmond, the Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photograph and was even considering using facial recognition software.

Facial recognition? One of the guys in the photo was in a hood!

The Virginia Democratic Party is unhappy:

A conservative friend texted me to say, “To improve his fortunes he should say that he isn’t in the photo after all, but on reflection he did call for infanticide.”

What’s happening here is simple. Northam ‘fessed up, hoping against hope that a confession plus contrition would be enough to win Democrats back to his side. It wasn’t. Virtually everyone of any significance in the party chimed in within hours after his statement to say that he should beat it. So he’s shifting to plan B: Upon further review he’s actually innocent, and therefore it wouldn’t be fair to ask him to resign. Reporters are wondering why he’d even want to keep his job since Virginia limits its governors to one term anyway and Northam will have zero political capital after this even if he hangs on. It may be a matter of protecting what’s left of his good name — although if that’s his goal, he’d be better off resigning to placate his party while also insisting, however unconvincingly, that he doesn’t think that’s him. (“Although I am innocent, public confidence in me has been irretrievably shaken, and therefore…”) Any shred of doubt he creates may be enough to let him hang on to his friends in polite society, at least.

Alternately, this guy may feel so isolated right now that he really has talked himself into believing the inane possibility that that photo was just randomly added to his page. The yearbook committee set him up!

This will be a lingering headache for Democrats if he doesn’t quit, as the media will now track down the med school’s old yearbook editors and try to find out how photos were chosen. There’s nothing in the state’s impeachment statute either that would justify removing him from office to stop the bleeding. The story will drag on, with Northam destined to resign anyway as pressure from the party keeps up. WaPo has already reached out to some of his old med-school classmates to ask about the yearbook, in fact. An interesting detail:

Joan Naidorf, whose husband’s yearbook page is opposite Northam’s in the yearbook, said she was surprised the photos are only now coming out, given Northam’s stature in Virginia politics.

“We’ve often wondered over the last 10 years or so why someone didn’t dig this up sooner,” said Naidorf, a nonpracticing emergency room physician who lives in Alexandria…

Eastern Virginia Medical School allowed students to pick their own photos for their yearbook page, Naidorf said. Her husband chose their engagement photo and other personal pictures. Another student chose a picture of men in blackface and dressed as women in what appears to be a variety-show routine.

Gonna be tough for Northam to claim he had nothing to do with the photo selection. He’d be better off pointing to that “variety show” as the culprit. “Okay, yes, I’m probably in the photo, but it’s not what it seems. It was part of a performance, a skit making fun of racists that was in bad taste in hindsight. I’m sorry.” It won’t save his job but it might save his social circle for him. Certainly his stance on infanticide won’t jeopardize that: Killing babies on the table is one thing, but an old blackface photo is where America draws the line.

Another mystery about the photo emerged this morning, by the way:

Uh, if Bongino and other righties had it back then, why not try to verify it and do some damage to Democrats before the midterms? It’s not like Northam was some presidential contender and the oppo had to be saved for later, to destroy his national ambitions. He could have been safely nuked at any time.

While we wait for the next episode of “Veep” to begin, enjoy this little gift from the “apples are apples, not bananas” network.