Monday, February 11, 2019

What's the Matter with Virginia?

Winning a Trifecta is rare, as any bettor could tell you. Having the top three Virginia politicians mired in scandal, all of whom happen to be Democrats, is quite a statistical coup. The final dispositions of the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the state’s attorney general are still very much up in the air and it would take another leap of high coincidence to believe all three of them will eventually resign.

Gov. Ralph Northam, the first offender, has thus far made a botch of most everything. Part of his charm, allegedly, is that he’s not a “polished” politician. Oh, you don’t say? He’s proved that. The man in the middle, the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, has another problem, unrelated to the blackface applications of the other two, since he himself is Black. His alleged offense is sexual assault. (This trio makes up a perverse Oreo cookie; the sweet white innards is the public's usual prurience regarding such subjects.) A woman charged forced oral sex on Fairfax's part. One problem with such a charge is that reading the description of the alleged event hardly cheers anyone up and most readers would rather peruse transcripts of state agricultural or waste management committees. On the heels of that, another woman has surfaced, claiming rape, spelling doom for Fairfax, a lot of people assume.

Be that as it may, these stories all have remained, for the most part, on the surface of the public’s consciousness. In the Age of Trump, it is a familiar surface. But we have learned a lot of minstrel show history. When I looked at the offending yearbook photos of Gov. Northam, I was struck by any number of things. One being, Who is the other fellow, whichever one it is, in the KKK outfit and will we ever know his name? Though the governor currently contends that he isn’t even in this particular photo, which somehow ended up on his yearbook page. Given the ongoing coverage we have also been informed that white folk wearing blackface on special occasions was popular throughout the state in the '80s.

I was a bit more interested in Northam's photograph (I presume it’s him) lounging in front of a Corvette, a new one at the time, back in the early '80s, which shares his yearbook page spread. Virginia medical students seemed to have a lot of money, evidently. They certainly appeared carefree, at least about what the future might bring. Mark Herring, the AG, another wanna-be black entertainer, at least had the familiar excuse of being an undergraduate, rather then a medical student, when he showed up in shoe polish.

The ‘80s were the Age of Reagan, when the rich really began to separate themselves from the poor (the wage gap, particularly), and the wealthy began to swan around the big cities, recovering somewhat from the ‘70s, when they kept their display of wealth a bit more circumspect. Again, unless you lived through the ‘80s, it’s hard to exaggerate the extent of so-called White Male Privilege afoot. Second Wave Feminism was in its adolescence in the early 1980s.

Now, we have Billionaires flaunting themselves as political saviors. Why, we even have a supposed Billionaire as our current President, though one reason given for Trump’s not-seen-taxes is that they would reveal the fact he is a mere Millionaire, not Billionaire.

But, Howard Schultz, the coffee maven, possible presidential candidate, wants to be called a man of means, avoiding a label that somehow doesn’t have the same appealing ring it once might have had. It is yet another coincidence just how similar Schultz, the Starbucks man, is to the McDonald’s man, Ray Kroc,. They both sold supplies to small shops -- in Kroc’s case, mixers and the like to hamburger joints, and, in Schultz’s case, equipment to coffee sellers. Both went out to visit the shops that bought so much of their wares and, in both cases, they had the insight to take them over and multiply them. Schultz and Kroc, their enterprises' success roughly two decades apart, differed on clientele: Coffee shops needed to look more high-end, appealing to a slightly more educated class in the 1980s. Chic, rather than family friendly. Starbucks, hinting of the sea and Moby Dick; Big Macs, in the 1960s, hinting of weight gain.

Schultz now wants his very ordinary intelligence employed to run the country. Or, at least, hand it back to Trump, a different sort of huckster entirely than the Coffee Boy, which is likely what Trump would dub him. Both Schultz and Kroc had the right idea at the right time. Many have had the right idea at the wrong time.

But, the Schultz/Kroc coincidences still pale when compared to the current Trifecta of follies in Virginia. No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

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