Blackface – Political Felony or Misdemeanor?

As Virginia continues to reel from allegations of racism and sexual assault on the part of their statewide elected leaders, political analysts and honest politicians (the list is unfortunately short) begin to weigh whether decades-old misdeeds should be considered in the same context as if the events were remotely contemporary.

One of America’s most respected political analysts, Charlie Cook, ponders whether a 35-year old picture of Governor Ralph Northam, allegedly dressed in either blackface or wearing the costume of a Ku Klux Klansman requires his resignation or removal from office.

In a February 7, 2019 column, Washington Post Opinion Writer, Jennifer Rubin, weighs-in with an assist from Cook.

Is there a distinction between Northam’s blackface scandal (as a young adult, admitted and then denied) and Herring’s (in college, profusely apologized although he never brought it up before)?

Charlie Cook, writing before Herring’s story broke, observed:

“There is a legitimate debate over what misdeeds are the political equivalent of misdemeanors and ought to be survivable, which ones are political felonies and should be dealt with in a more punitive way, and which ones are in effect, political capital offenses. And is there a statute of limitations, or does that depend on the severity of the offense? Northam’s case is arguably worse than Herring’s, in large part because of the lack of a consistent and credible account, but if he departs, that shouldn’t determine whether Herring should stay or go,

Charlie Cook, quoted in the Washington Post, 3/7/2019

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