How bad has it gotten for Ralph Northam? The governor of Virginia called an emergency meeting of his senior staff late yesterday to discuss his future — during the Super Bowl. The Washington Post reported last night that Northam has put resignation back on the table if he determines that he’s lost his effectiveness in the office:
Calling the Sunday night meeting was a clear signal of Northam’s effort to weigh support within the administration as he evaluates his options. Although he pledged on Saturday to stand his ground, he also said he would reconsider if he thought he could no longer be effective. Just a day later, resignation is an active consideration, the people said.
The meeting was emotional, according to a Democratic official. Northam scheduled a larger meeting for Monday morning for administration staff, the official said. …
One of those urging Northam to stay and defend his honor is first lady Pam Northam, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Others, however, are looking to abandon ship:
Even within the circle of his staunchest defenders, there was debate about whether he should step down, according to one person familiar with the situation who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity. At least one senior staffer and one Cabinet member have reached out to private firms about job possibilities, according to a person who was approached by the two.
Er … how exactly would that work? Northam’s only been governor for a little over a year. Are there firms in the private sector who are eagerly anticipating the addition of Northam connections to their executive suite? The media has spent some time observing how the market for former aides to Donald Trump doesn’t match the opportunities seen for departees of previous administrations due to Trump’s unpopularity and uncouth style of governance. It’s tough to imagine that the private-sector prospects will be much better for senior staff to the man who couldn’t remember whether he was in blackface or a Klan outfit in his own yearbook page.
Besides, not all is yet lost for the Northam administration. The Associated Press reports this morning that Northam is still “clinging to office.” (Bitterly, perhaps?) The writing appears to be on the wall, though:
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was clinging to office Monday morning amid nearly unanimous calls from his own party to resign over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, after a bizarre weekend in which he first admitted he was in the picture, and then denied it.
The Democrat’s stunning about-face — at a weekend news conference where he also acknowledged putting on blackface to imitate Michael Jackson at a dance contest decades ago, and appeared to briefly entertain the notion of doing the moonwalk for reporters — only seemed to make things worse.
Yes, you read that correctly — Northam did appear to think about moonwalking his way into oblivion. Northam’s wife had to rescue him from an even bigger disaster:
His best move might be to moonwalk out of Richmond, the AP suggests:
The scandal threatens to cripple Northam’s ability to govern. He has lost the support of virtually all of the state’s Democratic establishment. Top Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly also urged Northam to step down, as did many declared and potential Democratic presidential candidates.
Virginia governors can be removed for “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, or other high crime or misdemeanor” under the state constitution, but top Democrats said they don’t believe it will come to that.
Nor should it. Northam’s “crime,” if put in those terms, took place thirty-three years ago or more, not while in office. Democrats clearly didn’t do a very good job of vetting their candidate, but that’s not an impeachable offense either. If Northam doesn’t resign, their only option is to live with those consequences for the next three years, whether they like it or not.
It likely won’t come to that, though. If he sticks around, his Cabinet will find other jobs, and Northam won’t find anyone to replace them. As bad as it would be to have a job with Governor Amnesia on the résumé at this stage, how would anyone explain taking a job with him after this came out? Northam will resign. It might take a few more meetings with angry Democrats to get the message through to him and his wife, but it will eventually sink in. Eventually.
But if it doesn’t, maybe Northam should consider taking up another dance move. How about the dubstep?