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A View From Lick Skillet: Virginia politics fascinate & Lusty SBC preachers

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By Gerald Largen

Gentle reader, inasmuch as the old curmudgeon’s family had resided in Tidewater, Virginia for over a hundred and fifty years before crossing the mountains into the Tennessee Valley, he has always had a certain particular interest in the Old Dominion. Therefore he has followed closely the current political debacle involving the leaders of the state government.

As you know, somebody knew about, or discovered, the 1984 yearbook of the Virginia medical school from which Dr. Ralph Northam graduated, and apparently there was a page devoted to each of the seniors that year. Dr. Northam’s page among other photos had one showing two persons, one wearing a Klan hood, and the other wearing black-face make-up. Neither person was identified.

Some adversary of Dr. Northam, who was elected last year as the Democratic governor of the Commonwealth, put a copy of this page in circulation, and the governor was asked about it.

Apparently he was shocked by the enquiry and did not handle it well, saying that it was a picture of him, but he didn’t know which one of the two shown was him, nor who the other person was.

Then the next day he said neither one was him, that he knew nothing about the picture, that he had nothing to do with the make-up of the page, and that he didn’t buy a copy of the yearbook.

Then he volunteered that he had once put shoe polish on his cheeks to appear in a dance contest as Michael Jackson.

Well, from this simple scenario, as they used to say, ‘all hell broke loose’. Virtually every Democrat, especially those running for president, immediately called on the governor to resign his office.

And most of the commentators not only echoed the politicians call for his resignation, but predicted that it would soon be forthcoming. They almost to a man (or woman) prognosticated that there was no way he could remain in office, and since his lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, was also a Democrat, and was a black man, it was just inevitable that Northam resign and get out of the way. It would be better for the party, it would be better for the state, it would be better all around.

The old curmudgeon hearing all this couldn’t help but wonder whether Dr. Northam saw the picture in the same light. As he saw it, and suspected that Dr. Northam saw it, was this: He had devoted a good deal of time and effort, and probably resources, to get elected, and he had done so, defeating a formidable Republican opponent in the process, and he had held the office only a few months. If he left now, his public career would be over, being at an age when it would be virtually impossible to start all over again. He is entitled to over three years of gubernatorial salary, as well as benefits, and pension claims. And if he quit now, under fire, is anybody going to like him, or respect him any better for quitting, than if he holds on? It seems unlikely. And most import, he probably knew, and if he didn’t he or his very smart wife soon found out, that there were no grounds for impeachment, so that if he wants to stay and draw the pay, he can. Thus the old curmudgeon analyzed the situation initially.

Then poor Justin Fairfax, the lieutenant governor, who everybody said was wonderful, got blind-sided. He was accused of sexual misconduct by a female college professor.

Unfortunately for him, he was not being pushed for the Supreme Court, a la Kavanaugh, so all of a sudden his rising star rose no more.

But, no problem, the next in line is Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring. However, knowing there are no secrets, the General ‘fessed up that in 1980, while a 19 year old college student he wore black face to a party. So he too is damaged goods they say.

As of Sunday, a small sliver of sensibility seemed to be showing up. For instance, by Monday, commentator Mark Shields gave a reasoned analysis of the situation, pointing out that Dr. Northam had a sterling record in public life insofar as race relations are concerned, and that whatever his state of mind in 1984, more than three decades should be sufficient for some type of statute of limitation for any youthful indiscretions to be forgiven, if not forgotten. And, in the meantime an opinion survey was conducted of Virginia voters, and 47 percent thought the governor ought not to resign with the same number, 47 percent that he should. And, if we understood aright, a majority of black respondents thought that he should be forgiven if he had done wrong.

Politics Virginia-style continues to be fascinating.

*****

Gentle reader, almost from day one of the Trump Era, we have been puzzled, and expressed to you, the reader, our puzzlement, as to the cozy relationship between lying, cheating, and fornicating Donald John and the leaders of the Evangelical wing of the claim-to-be Christians, especially that segment yclept Southern Baptist Convention. Well, now the light has been turned on, thanks to the efforts of a couple of Texas newspapers whose enquiring reporters have been digging into the habits of the Southern Baptist leaders, and lo and behold, they have discovered that these self proclaimed paragons of virtue, right-thinking, and right-behaving are in fact, Not! These news-hawks have discovered and documented hundreds of cases of sexual misconduct among the leadership of the denomination to the point that it threatens to overshadow the well-known scandal that has enveloped the Roman Catholic Church for the past several years; the latest development in which involves some priests utilizing some nuns in virtual concubinage, according to the Vatican.

How far the Southern Baptist scandal runs is yet to be seen, but we suspect that when the dust settles, many a pulpit may need a new tenant. And many of the fine religious folks who have hitherto blindly followed their pastors into the Trump pasture, will spend many prayerful hours reading the scriptural directions left us in the New Testament, rather than getting their directions from their Trump soul-mate in the pulpit.

It all just goes to prove once again how wise were our Founding Fathers when they chose to keep separate the Church from the State, and the State from the Church. But, as you know, the Trumpster and the Evangelicals have made a big issue of eliminating the so-called Johnson Amendment, which is just one law to protect the separation of church and state. Most rightthinking people recognize that this separation operates to protect the church from the state, just as much as it operates to protect the state from the church.

But all too many of these right-wing church people think that they are always going to be the ones in charge and so they push for their kind or branch of religion to be the favoured one.

But, how would they feel if another kind or branch were to get to be in charge and the holy book read was not the bible, but the Koran, and the motto was not in God we trust, but In Allah we trust? And the prayer in school they’re so hot to restore, was prayed five times a day, with the students facing Mecca, and addressing Allah and the Prophet?

As the old saying warns: Be careful what you wish for.

*****

The opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of this newspaper.