Sorry, Republicans. You can’t call out Northam for racism and give Trump a pass

By | February 3, 2019

Tom Nichols writes:

Finally, the GOP is calling out a chief executive for his appalling insensitivity on an issue of race: Saturday, via Twitter, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, decried that chief executive’s “past racist behavior” and said “He should resign.” In two tweets posted on Saturday, Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel listed off what she sees as that same chief executive’s callousness on race, including, apparently, his appearance, in a photo, 35 years ago, in which one person is in blackface and the other is wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. The conduct that these Republicans denounced clearly deserves condemnation, no matter how or when it occurred.

Unfortunately, they’ve reserved their scorn for one chief executive, Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and held back when it comes to criticizing a chief executive from their own party, President Trump, for his racially divisive statements and public positions. That is naked hypocrisy.

Northam, without doubt, brought this criticism on himself: Friday he released a statement apologizing for appearing, in a 1984 medical school yearbook photo, “in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” saying, “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made.” Then on Saturday, he went before live cameras to say, “I believe then, and now, that I am not either of the people,” in the photo in question. A risible, flimsy explanation, unacceptable for anyone, let alone the governor of a state.

Republicans, sensing a relatively rare moment when, for once, the other party had to own a race-relations debacle, joined Democrats in calling for Northam’s ouster. In addition to McCarthy and McDaniel, Virginia GOP chair Jack Wilson called on Northam to step down, saying the governor has “lost the moral ability” to lead. Ever since Election Day 2016, when Trump’s supporters promised he wouldn’t be as awful as his critics — including me — warned he would be, Republicans have longed for a moment when they could at least pretend to gain the high moral ground.

But while Democrats, and decent people everywhere, have a right to demand that Northam step down, Republicans who continue to support a party dominated by Trump can’t be taken seriously on this point. [Continue reading…]

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