Marketing Magic: Meet Ralph Northam 2.0
Does Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam have a tapeworm? If not, would someone please ask him to stop using the imperial “we” while he frantically tries to reinvent himself?
The governor’s attempted transformation from “Coonman” into Ralph Northam 2.0 is not something most of us want to be associated with.
Yet during an interview with The Washington Post last weekend Northam repeatedly tried to turn his missteps into a more universal problem. He awkwardly tried to change the conversation from his recent bizarre behavior to one of collective white guilt.
“It’s been a horrific week for Virginia…,” Northam said, telling The Post that he “overreacted” when he initially took credit for the blackface/Klan picture on his yearbook page. “There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia and especially in the area of equity…And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes.”
News flash, Governor: The only mistake we made was in electing you. Don’t try to pretend other Virginians are like you. They aren’t. They weren’t in 1984, either.
Ralph Northam 2.0 then talked about wanting to “heal the pain” of Virginians.
How unaware can one person be? If Virginians really are suffering - and I’m not, I’m disgusted - Northam’s the cause of it. The way to heal that wound is for him to disappear, not stage a choreographed “reconciliation tour.”
During his 30-minute-no-tapes interview with The Post, Northam made it clear that Virginia is stuck with him for another three years. He said he’s going to dedicate himself to equality. In fact, Northam told his cabinet on Friday that they will be going through sensitivity training.
Stop projecting, Gov. Northam. Just because you’ve discovered your inner racist doesn’t mean your cabinet, state employees and the rest of us have similar demons.
If Ralph 2.0 seems like some sort of tidily repackaged politician, it’s because that’s what he is.
According to a Politico piece Inside Ralph Northam’s Plot for Survival, Northam hired a Washington DC crisis management team, IR+Media, last Wednesday. His PAC is reportedly paying the bill to Band-Aid his image.
That company’s chief, Jarvis Stewart, Tweeted his thoughts after watching Northam’s weird press conference four days earlier:
Northam needed help, all right. So he called for IR+Media’s crisis management team.
Here’s how its mission is described on the company’s website:
Rapid Response, Reputation Management and Stakeholder Engagement
Legendary newspaper columnist Walter Winchell once said, "Today's gossip is tomorrow's headline." It doesn't have to be. Managing a crisis requires experience, relationships and, most of all, grit. IR+Media has managed sensitive crises for some of the world's most iconic brands. How? By seeing the crisis as an opportunity to redirect, redefine, and re-engage.
Just what the doctor ordered!
By the weekend, thanks to his new handlers, Ralph Northam 2.0 emerged. Merrily redirecting, redefining and re-engaging. Or at least, trying.
In place of the moonwalking muttonhead of a week earlier, here was a contrite recipient of white privilege now dedicated to righting all of the racial wrongs in the commonwealth while asking Virginians to share in his guilt.
Don’t be fooled by repackaged Ralph. As I pointed out last week, this folksy country doctor schtick is an act. He’s a cold politician who was willing to use ugly race-baiting ads to defeat mainstream GOP opponent Ed Gillespie in 2017.
Northam didn’t care about the damage done to his opponent by labeling him a racist. Hey, anything to win.
Until Ralph Northam apologizes for that smear campaign, everything you see is just marketing.