The Washington Post is walking back their previous calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign. The newspaper penned an editorial back in February after a photo of Northam wearing blackface or Klu Klux Klan garb emerged. At the time, the newspaper said he could "no longer effectively serve the people" in the state.
"Facts do matter, and the ones surrounding the Northam fiasco remain unsettled and unanswered. First and foremost among the questions they raise: How could he possibly have admitted to something as damning as appearing in the photo if he was certain he wasn’t one of the people in it? How did that photo wind up on his page if he didn’t furnish it to the yearbook editors? What do the governor’s now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t statements say about his judgment?" the editorial board wrote at the time. "The explanations Mr. Northam has proffered are vague and unconvincing. Virginians deserve better. Mr. Northam’s time is up."
According to the editorial board, Northam has made great strides since the blackface scandal took place and they were wrong in calling for his resignation.
"...Mr. Northam has refocused his governorship on racial equity and reconciliation in what amounted to an extended act of public contrition and atonement. It has been astonishingly effective not just in terms of his own political rehabilitation — his poll numbers climbed from the depths — but also in setting a clear theme for his four-year term in office, delimited by Virginia’s prohibition on governors succeeding themselves," the newspaper wrote in a new editorial.
The Washington Post cited specifics that they claim show Northam has made great strides, like his weekly and monthly visits to racially significant sites and "seeking out counsel from black leaders or announcing an initiative to advance racial justice." They also referenced him recently hiring Janice Underwood as Virginia's first state director of diversity, equity and inclusion; the establishment of the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity to reevaluate Jim Crow-era laws; the creation of the Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth; and his biennial budget that includes providing low-income and minority students with free community college, expanding pre-k, and providing more funding to reduce the maternal mortality among women of color.
One of the newspaper's columnists shared the new editorial on Twitter, saying her previous calls for Northam's resignation "were wrong."
Back when a racist photo first surfaced in his medical school yearbook, most Va lawmakers, our editorial page (and yours truly) said ?@GovernorVA? should resign. We were wrong. https://t.co/bA25YpnWbk— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) December 28, 2019
How many of these programs were established and funding was allocated so Northam could win a majority in the General Assembly? As much as we'd like to believe that politicians do things like this to better their community, it's really a way for people like Northam to say they have learned and grown from their mistakes. Whether or not that's actually the case is a different story.
It's amazing to see a major newspaper, like the WaPo, say they were wrong in wanting a man who either wore blackface or dressed in KKK clothing to resign. You would think they would stick by their previous position. What Northam did was wrong. He can implement plenty of policies but nothing will negate that fact.