Thursday, March 07, 2019

Virginia AG Mark Herring's Self-Inflicted Wounds

Yours truly and Herring in happier days
at a fundraiser in our home.
Last month's "black face" circus here in Virginia gave Virginians a good look at which of their elected officials made hasty - and in my view unwarranted - decisions and rushed to judgment as well as which ones had major problems with being hypocrites. Leading the pack in hypocrisy and poor judgment was Attorney General Mark Herring (although Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Congressman Bobby Scott were right along side Herring in poor judgment).  Herring quickly called for Governor Northam's resignation over a photo that turned out not to be of Northam even as he knew himself that there were photos of himself in black face floating around - something many think caused Herring to eventually confess of his own perceived black face indiscretion. 

Now, with Northam still in office with the support of 58% of black Virginians (as opposed to black elected officials and anti-white black activists) and a plurality of white Virginians, Herring finds himself in a huge mess. Seeking to run for governor in 2021, Herring has managed to piss off a significant portions of the base he will need to run for governor.  In addition, he and his chicken little fellow Democrats have divided the Democrat Party of Virginia as the party moves towards the critical 2019 General Assembly elections. An article in the Virginian Pilot describes Herring failing attempt to justify his calls for Northam's resignation.  Whether Herring can regain those support of those he has alienated, including my husband and myself, remains to be seen.  He has certainly opened the door for some other candidate to challenge him for the 2021 gubernatorial nomination.  Here are excerpts from the Pilot article and  Herrings, in my view, disingenuous explanation: 
Attorney General Mark Herring on Monday said he demanded Gov. Ralph's Northam's resignation last month not because the governor had worn blackface decades earlier, but because Northam flip-flopped on the subject in a way that undermined his ability to lead.
Breaking a month of silence since acknowledging that he, too, had dressed in blackface as a young man, Herring took pains to differentiate his situation from Northam's. Both Herring and Northam are Democrats.
The attorney general said that after Northam's revelations, he "agonized" about whether to disclose that he dressed in blackface for a party as a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia. He said ultimately decided to do so on his own, dismissing the idea that his hand was forced by questions from the media.
"Sure, we had gotten some press inquires, but this was something I needed to bring forward," he said.
Herring, who announced in December his intention to run for governor in 2021, declined to say whether he will still run. "That's the last thing I'm thinking about right now," Herring said. "What I am focused on is what has happened in Virginia over the last month and what I can do to repair the damage."
Herring's critics have called him a hypocrite for calling on Northam to step down despite his own blackface episode. Several times during the 36-minute interview on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show, Herring contended that in his view, Northam needed to leave office not because of the blackface, but because of his shifting account of it.
While many state and national Democrats immediately called on Northam to resign, Herring stopped just short of that in a statement issued late on the night of Feb. 1.
But the next day, after Northam's turnabout during his news conference, Herring called on Northam to step down and expressed his support for the man who would succeed him, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, also a Democrat.
"It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down," Herring's statement said. "I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Fairfax and assured him that, should he ascend to the governorship, he will have my complete support and commitment to ensuring his success and the success of our Commonwealth."
Days later, Fairfax was swept up in a scandal of his own, as two women accused him of sexually assault dating from 2000 and 2004 - charges that Fairfax has vigorously denied.
Around 11 a.,m. on Feb. 6, Herring met with members of Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus to admit that he darkened his skin to dress as rapper Kurtis Blow for a college party.
Hours earlier, an Associated Press reporter informed Herring spokesman Michael Kelly that someone had given him a detailed description of a photo of Herring in blackface, pressing Kelly for a response.
A little after 11:30 a.m., after Black Caucus members left their briefing from Herring, Kelly issued Herring's statement about his use of blackface.
The accusations against Fairfax are "different but a very difficult situation," Herring said. The women who say they were sexually assaulted by the lieutenant governor "deserve to be heard, they deserve respect," he said.
"What needs to happen is some type of impartial situation so we can get to the facts," he said. "In the current situation, it's hard to see how that takes place. It's an excruciating situation to be in."
Herring and other Democrats should have kept their mouths shut and calmly and careful waited for all of the facts and information to come out and tested the mood of their constituents (what a novel concept) instead of acting like a bunch of lemmings played by far right GOP operatives.  Personally, I believe ALL of them need to cooperate in a reconciliation effort, but given the egos of some involved, seeing them admit they acted hastily and foolishly may be too much to hope for.  Meanwhile, my own representatives in the General Assembly - both of whom are members of the Legislative Black Caucus - have permanently lost my vote. Historically, they have shown no interest in my concerns or views and I only hear from them in the run up to elections when they ask for money.  At the national level, I also know that would be presidential candidates Castro, Warren and Harris will never win my support based on their hasty and ill-considered insertion of themselves into Virginia issues (this is Warren's second time doing this to the harm of the party).

The husband and I will be seeing Mark Warner on Sunday - I suspect it will be an interesting conversation and one that Warner will not like. 

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