So Monday I mentioned the women who claim lying theocrat Roy Moore hit on them when they were underage, and that some Republicans were defending him (better a pedophile for senator than a Democrat, and no I’m not kidding). Since then the ground has shifted so rapidly it’s worth some more links:
The American Family Association and other religious conservatives still support Moore. AFA official Sandy Rios brushed off the charges on the grounds there isn’t a man who “doesn’t have something in his past, in his box of secrets, that he’s ashamed of sexually?” Particularly since the 1960s when all that evil free love started subverting godly behavior (we’ll just ignore that for some Christians the age difference is very godly). Of course this kind of open-mindedness never applied when Bill Clinton cheated, even though he acknowledged his sin and asked for forgiveness — precisely what Christians are supposed to do. Somehow sins can only be washed away for Republicans like Moore and Newt Gingrich.
Likewise, Fox News Jeanine Pirro has done a complete 180 on whether old sex-crime charges are important: she used to think so but in Moore’s case hey, it was 30 years ago, forget about it okay?
And the charges keep coming. That Moore was banned from a local mall for chasing teenage girls. A woman says she was 16 when Moore tried to rape her. Moore makes the claim he never dated any young girls without their mothers’ permission, which for some conservative Christians probably sounds reasonable.
Some conservative pundits (though not all) are declaring Moore damaged goods. Ross Douthat has condemned him and discussed how male-dominated churches must hold men accountable — though as Echidne points out, that’s not practical. I suspect Roy Edroso is right: it’s one thing for a right-wing Christian polemicist like Rios to stand by Moore, but an NYT columnist like Douthat has to look good to the mainstream audience. In the current debate over harassment and predation, that makes supporting someone like Moore a career risk.
One writer at the ever-vapid Federalist is worried enough about the big picture to resort to the old stand-by: Moore isn’t a conservative. Moore ignored higher court decisions (ordering judges not to issue marriage licenses to gays, even after the Obergefell decision, for instance) which violates the law and no conservative would do that. Of course the same writer (as noted at the link) had no problem with that in an earlier article, describing Moore’s defiance of the law as proving him an “anti-establishment conservative,” the kind we need more of in Congress!
More generally, lots of conservatives support Moore’s actions and those by other anti-gay officials. Large numbers of religious conservatives have embraced him as their champion. Would The Federalist claim all those people are anti-conservative? If not, just what makes more not one any more?
Will any of this make a difference to Alabama voters? Will they decide it’s all a conspiracy by the Washington Post? As a former Bible Belt resident, I suspect they’ll vote for the “godly” Moore (who apparently retro-opposes the civil rights movement) — what does a little assault matter compared to fighting against the Homosexual Agenda? That’s why Rios claims an attack on Moore is an attack on Christianity.
But I have slightly more hope than Monday that I’m wrong. And being wrong would be good. While I’ve heard arguments Moore in the Senate would just make Republicans look worse, I think the risk of legitimizing or normalizing his extreme views is much worse. Better he stay out of DC.