"It doesn't matter whether he was in the photo, or not in the photo at this point. We have to close that chapter," said former Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who aided, supported and assisted in the election of current Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on CNN's 'State of the Union.’
Since the low-bar was set during the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the weaponizing of high school and other yearbooks as part of opposition research and background checks is now fully underway. With an expected field of more than 20 Democrats lining up to seek the White House in 2020, you can rest assured that dozens of interns working for the nation's top political consulting firms are fanning out across the country into high school and college libraries to locate and identify the poor decision making in youth of our potential future leaders.
Virginia Governor (as of this writing) Ralph Northam, is someone I've never met, and will not spend time defending. Though I will draw a distinction, between an expectation of maturity and adult reasoning in a Med School student, versus an adolescent in high school. It is more than likely that Democratic Governor Northam, who used race as an issue against his GOP opponent, Ed Gillespie, will be driven from office, in a matter of days or weeks, largely over a photograph on his Med School yearbook page, along with a later admission of donning shoe polish on his face in a staged tribute to Michael Jackson in 1994.
Northam, previously Virginia's Lt. Governor, won the office narrowly, largely on the back of voters in metro Washington, D.C.. The Virginia Commonwealth out-state is a largely conservative and Red State, much like Georgia and metro Atlanta, the politics of its largest MSA, in this case Washington, D.C., often tip the ballot scales in a different direction. But again, if Northam is to be run out on a rail following this trolling stroll down memory lane, it should be for his current or at least more recent poor choices in public life, as well as bad actions or intentions to implement poor public policy...and not simply for stupid costume decision making in youth.
Northam recently endorsed a failed bill in the Virginia General Assembly which would have all but legalized infanticide and extended legal abortion procedures to post-birth. During his campaign, Northam used race as a wedge issue to link his opponent, former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie with some of the bad answer choices of President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the tragic riots and protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. These are the kinds of decisions which Virginians should be holding up for closer scrutiny and review.
Christ was not perfect. My main challenge with the Catholic Church of my birth and christening is the insistence that our Pope is a practical deity. He is a man. With all the good and bad that comes with that, selected by other men...again to lead.
I know many people including myself, with lives well and charitably lived, who have had bad nights, made poor decisions and on occasion had those moments captured for posterity. Should one black mark or bad costume decision erase decades of good choices? Whatever happened to second chances, or acknowledging the onset of maturity, personal growth or even simply becoming a better human being, generally considered one of the true benefits of aging?
Accountability courts now give non-violent criminal offenders a second chance. Florida and other states are having ongoing discussions about restoring the voting rights of felons. If we are such a forgiving people, and so willing to give second chances, shouldn't we start by acknowledging the folly of judging the mindset of a public official today by their youth and costume choices of decades ago? And given the proliferation of electronic photography, are we ready for the likely slutty Mrs. Santa and naughty nurse photos yet to come in a post Me-Too era of the hundreds of women entering elected life?
Having weathered a healthy number of youthful indiscretions as well as more recent bad decisions of my own, I remain glad that we are able to build our cumulative life's work and reputation on the back of a series of good choices and decisions as well as knowing that when we are finally judged by a higher authority, what is truly in our heart, minds and expressed in our faith matters for something.
While I wish Governor Northam and his family well, I suspect they are in for a challenging set of years. I would urge my friends and the citizens of the great Commonwealth of Virginia to not rush to judgement and to fully comprehend the reasons for the decision which they are considering, as well as noting the sound of yearbooks rustling and memory sticks moving into vaults, while even the Jefferson Dorm on the UVA campus has walls which contain stories of bad choices and memories. Thankfully though, those walls can't talk.