Surely This Is Rock Bottom for Republicans?

Republicans are debating — debating! — if they can support a man who has been accused of molesting a teenager.

The United States Capitol in Washington DC at night, September 18, 2014
The United States Capitol in Washington DC at night, September 18, 2014 (Thomas Hawk)

I thought Republicans hit rock bottom when they elected a president with neither knowledge of nor interest in world affairs, a man who confessed to groping women, mocked a war hero despite himself dodging the Vietnam draft and who disparaged all Mexican immigrants as murders and rapists — but clearly I was wrong.

In Alabama, they have nominated for the Senate a man who was removed as the state’s chief justice for refusing to recognize the supremacy of the law over his own religious beliefs, who perpetuated the racist lie that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, who believes homosexuality should be illegal, that Muslims can’t serve in government and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were God’s punishment for America’s heathen ways.

And that’s not even the worst about Roy Moore.

Appalling

Republicans are now debating — debating! — if they can still support a man who has been accused of molesting a fourteen-year-old girl when he was 32.

Right-wing defenses of Moore are appalling:

  • Mike Allison, pastor of Madison Baptist Church: “I don’t even believe the allegations. There’s lots of fake news going around these days.”
  • Erick Erickson‏, conservative columnist and radio host: “I have a hard time taking seriously the outrage from people screaming ‘age of consent’ who think a three-year-old boy can identify as a girl and there’s nothing wrong there.”
  • Ed Henry, Alabama state representative: “You can’t be a victim forty years later, in my opinion.”
  • David Horowitz‏, conservative writer: “Electing a Dem strengthens a party that defends these criminals: Obama, the Clintons, Holder, Lynch, Abedin, Cheryl Mills etc. and their crimes are far, far worse.”
  • Rush Limbaugh: “You know, these political sex scandals, they’re fascinating, folks. When the Democrats have one, you need to produce semen, you need the blue dress, you need transcripts of sexting, you need photos of people sneaking into hotel rooms, like John Edwards. But when the forty-year-old childhood memories of a wacky woman and The Washington Post allege something about a Republican, all hell breaks loose.”
  • Joel Pollak, Breitbart editor: “There’s only one allegation that people ought to be concerned about.” (Only one!)
  • Jerry Pow, Bibb County Republican chairman: “I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn’t want to vote for Doug [Jones, the Democrat].”
  • Riley Seibenhener, Geneva County Republican chairman: “I know that fourteen-year-olds don’t make good decisions.”
  • John Skipper, Mobile County Republican chairman: “I think it is a typical Democratic — Democrat — ploy to discredit Judge Moore, a sincere, honest, trustworthy individual.”
  • Jim Ziegler, Alabama state auditor: “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.” (Sexual relations with a minor are in fact illegal.)

Extreme partisanship

There are honorable exceptions. Senators Steve Daines, Mike Lee and John McCain have withdrawn their endorsements or called on Moore to step down. So have Ohio governor John Kasich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the party’s presidential candidate in 2012.

Conservative thinkers recognize that extreme partisanship has clouded Republican minds:

  • Max Boot: “This episode is the sorry culmination of two trends that have disfigured the conservative movement beyond all recognition: contempt for the facts and desire to win at all costs.”
  • David French: “It’s a moral imperative that we not determine the veracity of the allegations by the ideology of the accused.”
  • Jonah Goldberg: “This is the unavoidable consequence of a movement that is in the process of replacing conservative principles and arguments with the new lodestars of ‘fighting’ and ‘winning’.”
  • Bill Kristol: “In Trump’s Republican Party, Roy Moore — politically demagogic and morally bankrupt — seems to be not a bug but a feature.”

It is no coincidence that these same men opposed Trump during the Republican primaries last year. They put principle before party and power.

Sadly, that makes them the exception in today’s Republican Party