When officeholders behave badly
Whether Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is or is not the individual pictured in his yearbook in certainly what is an inappropriate pose for a public official, he still has the right to remain as governor since it was an indiscretion from his youth. Previous public officials have conducted much more serious political transgressions — with two prime examples being Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, with both actually being members of the KKK.
For Robert Byrd it was most outrageous since not only had he been a member of the KKK but a leader and active recruiter. Less than 10 years later he became a member of the House of Representatives and shortly afterward a senator who served in that position for over 50 years. His was not a youthful indiscretion, but was tolerated by the electorate of West Virginia.
Certainly the Virginia governor has every right to remain in office despite the urging of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Democrat, and former Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, calling for his immediate resignation. For a lesser offense Al Franken, under pressure, resigned from the Senate, an action that he now regrets. Evaluation of an individual’s right to public office should be considered weighing acctions in the present and not, as in many cases, from those of a distant past.