Iowa Politics — Mon. Feb. 11, 2019

Iowa Politics — Mon. Feb. 11, 2019

Waking Up

Sometimes, staying quiet is the best thing a person can do. That’s why when a person is accused of a crime, we take great pains to point out that they have the right to remain silent. So too with embattled politicians…sometimes, it’s best to stay under the radar and keep quiet.

But that goes against the nature of many in public office, and so apparently it is with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. He decided it was a good idea to follow up a week of relative silence with a media blitz, including interviews with The Washington Post and CBS News.

He told the Post this…a direct quote, now: “And so this has been a real, I think, an awakening for Virginia. It has really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia. And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes.”

An awakening for who, governor…your state, or certain out-of-touch elected officials? My sense is that plenty of folks in Virginia were already well aware of racial issues, and what costumes to not wear at parties.

Then another example of how unaware the governor is…in noting that this is the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Virginia, the governor told CBS News…again, a direct quote: “The first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores.” The interviewer, Gayle King, who just happens to be an African-American female, appropriately interrupted by interjecting, “Also known as slavery.”

Just as you try to dig yourself out of a hole on racial insensitivity, you spin slavery as being indentured servitude? Sounds like there needs to be a little more awakening in Virginia, starting in the governor’s office.

Obviously, Virginia has a problem…because if Gov. Northam steps down, the next man up is someone facing not one, but two allegations of sexual assault that happened far more recently than the governor’s yearbook photo. In a rather sick way, the lieutenant governor’s troubles is the best news Northam could have gotten.

Ultimately, there are things that affect us in Iowa more than the tawdry show in Virginia…like a federal government that could be shut down again by week’s end. But as the world’s attention is again being focused on Iowa for the next 12 months, it helps to know what is going on elsewhere…and be glad that the first-in-the-nation process starts here.