Northam to Virginia drivers: That epic snowjam was your fault, not mine

It’s official: Ralph Northam has retired from Virginia politics … even if Ralph Northam may not realize it. Pressed on the complete failure to anticipate potential road problems in this week’s winter storms, Northam defended his outgoing administration by telling the media he had the National Guard on standby, but chose not to deploy them to keep from snarling traffic any further.

The real problem, Northam said, was that drivers went out on the road in the first place and expected Virginia to keep them open:

State Police and transportation officials took to the air to monitor progress because highway traffic cameras went dark amid power outages, Northam said. While expressing sympathy for stranded motorists, Northam said more should have heeded warnings to stay off the roads.

“We gave warnings, and people need to pay attention to these warnings, and the less people that are on the highways when these storms hit, the better,” he said. “I feel for these people that are stranded but just want to let them know we’re doing everything we can to get to them in a very challenging situation.”

Should drivers have gone out on the road in a winter storm? Perhaps not, but it’s not as if the state didn’t have ample warning — and some, like Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), have jobs that require in-person presence. Trucks still have to deliver goods, especially staples such as food and fuel. It’s the job of the state government to keep roads clear enough to handle that traffic, and to respond to blockages quickly enough to prevent people from spending well over 24 hours in life-threatening conditions simply because the governor didn’t prepare for the event.

Virginians aren’t impressed with Northam’s leadership, needless to say:

But some motorists said they aren’t to blame for what they saw as government officials’ poor planning.

Ronni Schorr said Virginia officials were “not at all” prepared, and she didn’t see plows until Tuesday morning. She said her vehicle finally exited the highway after 14 hours, weaving around others stuck in the median, after a plow cleared an exit ramp on the other side of the highway. A tractor-trailer blocked the nearest exit ramp, she said.

“I’m not angry at the snow,” Schorr said. “I’m just upset at the way they handled it.”

And as for the warning … say what?

Most frustrating, she said, was the lack of communication from state and local officials as she and her husband took turns catnapping overnight in their Mazda. Finally, on Tuesday morning, they received a push alert on their phones from Virginia.

“In a world today when everybody’s got their cellphones with them, there was no information, there was nothing,” Schorr said. “If they were able to send an alert out this morning, why couldn’t they do that yesterday?”

That’s a pretty good riposte to Northam’s attempt at a defense. No one expected Virginia to have the same readiness as Minnesota or Wisconsin might to a storm of this magnitude, but they do expect their government to at least deploy the resources they do have — such as the National Guard that Northam kept on standby. And if the state isn’t going to deploy resources at all, a warning on the cell-phone notification system would seem like a basic step, no?

Thus Northam concludes his checkered gubernatorial career, which should have ended a couple of years ago in a resignation. Instead, he stuck around by imploring Virginians to trust in his commitment and then ended by blaming them for trusting his leadership at all. We’ve seen this clown show before (NSFW) …