Bill Bennett: Gov. Ralph Northam will resign soon – Democrats abandoning him

Revelations Friday that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appeared in what he acknowledged was a “clearly racist and offensive photo” in his medical school yearbook in 1984 have been greeted with a lot of commentary – including some even by smart conservatives – that is very naïve and unsophisticated.

A lot of people thought the Democrats would hesitate to demand the resignation of the Democratic governor.

Several conservative commentators wondered aloud how Democrats could cling to Northam and defend him, given their earlier position on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his Senate confirmation hearing in September. But the Democrats won’t defend Northam.


Democrats seized on unproven allegations (strongly denied by Kavanaugh) that he engaged in sexual misconduct in high school, using these as an excuse to oppose his nomination by President Trump to the high court. Thanks to the support of Republicans, Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed.

We recall Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and the intense focus on his high school yearbook jottings during the hearings. These were presented as serious obstacles to his confirmation.

With Northam, we have clear evidence of highly offensive behavior – he admits to being one of two men in a photo, one in blackface and the other in Ku Klux Klan robe. The governor said Saturday he does not remember which of the two people was him.

The photo in Northam’s medical school yearbook is much worse than anything in Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook – and it came from a grown man rather than a teenager. 

Democrats are not defending Northam. They will be rid of him before the weekend is over, for a number of reasons.

Democrats are not defending Northam. They will be rid of him before the Super Bowl is over, for a number of reasons.

Early statements by Democrats and Democratic organizations make this plain.

Already, calls for Northam’s resignation have come from these fellow Democrats: Former Vice President Joe Biden; presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, another presidential hopeful; former and possibly future presidential candidate Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; and U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, and A. Donald McEachin, all of Virginia.

The chair of the Virginia Democratic Party, Susan Swecker, issued a statement Saturday saying of Northam: “We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling on him to immediately resign.”

Why wouldn’t Democrats want to be rid of this one more useless offending white male? He can be dispensed with easily.

The Democratic Party quickly separated from the extreme case of former Hollywood mogul and big-time Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein, and the less extreme but still serious cases Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota and TV journalists Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer – all accused of sexual misconduct.

The Dems have several specific reasons for abandoning Northam as well.

First, as we heard right from the beginning, if Northam resigns Virginia will be getting an "extremely attractive" African-American, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, to succeed him as the next governor. For a party that counts by race and believes in preferred races, this is a big plus.

Second, the Ku Klux Klan and blackface picture itself is indeed a gross and offensive one. On the demerits of it alone it can easily be argued Northam should not survive politically.

But the real reason Northam will be tossed immediately is abortion. Northam – a former pediatric neurologist – was in the news in recent days describing the approved procedure for what is, in effect, a fourth trimester abortion, an ‘abortion “after birth” that effectively amounts to the murder of a child.

When asked about Northam’s comments, many Democrats feigned ignorance. But by getting Northam off the stage, the Dems will be under less pressure now to speak to Northam’s description and approval of this horror. 

This for the Democrats is the most urgent and compelling reason to be rid of him.  As bad as the picture is, his position on abortion is worse and more damaging to the Democrats.


Certainly, this position of Northam’s is what many Democrats believe on abortion. They agree with Northam, but they do not want to publicly defend him.

As we have seen over the last couple days, leading Democrats say they “know nothing” about Northam’s abortion comments. Defending this position publicly is not what they want to do. If Northam is gone they will have less pressure to do so. So he will be gone before we get results of the Super Bowl.