It all starts with Virginia State Senator Henry Marsh; one of the six black senators in that particular body (all of them Democrats, natch). Marsh worked for the Civil Rights movement back in the day, so it's hardly a surprise that he'd want to attend the second and final inauguration of his country's first black president.
So that's what he did. Unfortunately, the Virginia State Senate is divided equally between the parties, with 20 on each side. Marsh made the count 20 - 19 in favour of the Republicans for a single day whilst he was selfish enough to observe history being made, watching another in a seemingly endless series of barriers to black advancement finally come down.
Those twenty Republicans, each of them white, then pushed though a bill that no-one outside of their caucus had seen or even heard was being put together, which announced a redrawing of district boundaries. Said re-drawing took a whole host of black folks that reliably vote Democrat, and added them to what was already a safe Democratic district, meaning that the district they were taken from is now a much easier Republican pick-up, or might even disappear entirely.
So, whilst a black senator with a history with the Civil Rights movement was watching President Obama's Second Inauguration, nineteen white dudes and one white lady took steps to ensure black votes that were preventing their all-white caucus from having control could no longer do so.
The bill passed, naturally, by 20 - 19.
That was where the story ended, until yesterday, when the Washington Post decided to weigh in:
Shame on the witless Democrats for not anticipating that Republicans, given the chance, would resort to dirty tricks. And shame on Republicans for continuing their campaign to transform the General Assembly into a nasty, underhanded clone of Congress.There are two very important things to note here, and both of them involve a degree of cowardice so pronounced that Scooby Doo himself would suggest the Editorial Board nut the fuck up. First of all, consider what the Post's line of argument is here: Democrats share the blame in this because they didn't adopt a strategy of 100% attendance at all times in case the Republicans decided to pull a fast one. No days off, you lazy bums! No weddings, funerals or internationally significant historical events for you! Blaming the Democrats for this is like blaming a family for going on holiday and coming back to find the house was broken into. Or, to return to a previous theme, blaming an older brother for leaving the house and returning to find his little brother has been in his room and torn up all his favourite books out of spite.
The second issue here is much, much worse, because the Post are being pretty damn racist here, and they don't even have the courage to be open about it. Placing blame on twenty Republicans for each voting for this horrible piece of crap is entirely fair. Placing blame on twenty Democrats because Marsh wasn't around to vote is ludicrous. What the Post means here is "shame on the witless Marsh", but it doesn't want to say that because it knows that calling a black man witless for not sacrificing his own desires in order to maintain constant vigil on the white people who want to fuck him and his people over would be an act of transparent, ugly racism. Far better to blame the whole caucus, because then it can be implied that all twenty Democrats can be held responsible both for the actions of their opponents, and for the actions of their black colleague. The fact that this in effect results in the Washington Post suggesting a predominantly white caucus is responsible for controlling the actions of their black minority is an irony I absolutely promise you entirely escaped their notice.
Joseph Heller once said that American democracy is the most rigid aristocracy on earth. What he forgot to mention - though the horrendously underrated Good As Gold rather proved - is that it's frequently the source of the blackest comedy imaginable.