On the face of it, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s remark in a debate last week, comparing himself to George Floyd and Emmett Till, was gross and offensive.
Doubly gross and offensive, actually – not simply for the substance, but because Fairfax’s comments were a nakedly transparent attempt to jump-start a gubernatorial bid that was going nowhere by attempting to wrap himself in the one mantle some Democratic voters seem to prize above all else: victim status.
Had Fairfax left Floyd and Till out of it, he wouldn’t have garnered the headlines he did (he apparently had decided that all publicity, good and bad, is worthwhile as he attempts to crawl out of second-tier status in the gubernatorial race). But his underlying point is not worth dismissing out of hand.
It was two years ago, as Virginia Democrats were falling all over themselves – imprudently, as it turned out – demanding the resignation of Gov. Northam for the still-unexplained blackface/Klansman incident – Fairfax found himself accused by two women of sexual impropriety in incidents he acknowledges but claims were consensual.
Egged on by the social-media keyboard cowboys within their own party, the same Democrats (they know who they are, and it is a substantial group) proceeded to train their fire on Fairfax, demanding his resignation or, failing that, his impeachment.
Do the accusations against Fairfax have merit? We have no idea, although there certainly was the stench of politics about them, with suspicions that former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s acolyte, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, was the genesis of the scandal.
(It seems Fairfax has now decided that, if he can’t have the gubernatorial nomination himself, he’s going to do his best to make sure McAuliffe doesn’t get it, either.)
One might have assumed, two years back, that there would have been some form of investigation by those Democratic politicians calling for the ouster of Fairfax (and Northam), to see if the facts merited their draconian demands for punishment. But when fellow Democrat Mark Herring, the attorney general, also found himself under fire for past racial insensitivity, the statewide Democrats closed ranks and decided against pursuing the matters at all. The docile state media went along.
We said on this page at the time that Democrats who jumped in prematurely, trying to placate the “cancel-first-get-the-facts-later” culture within their party ranks and demanding action without letting the matters play out as they should, were going to regret their behavior.
We were right again, because here’s where things stand: A candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor is calling out many in his own party as the equivalent, to borrow words of Clarence Thomas, of a political lynch mob.
What Virginians deserved, two years ago, was a full and fair vetting of the Northam and Fairfax matters. Having not received it, the matter festered, unresolved (and in the minds of Democrats hopefully forgotten), before springing back to life last week courtesy the lieutenant governor’s scorched-earth efforts to resuscitate his political fortunes.