Is an abused 14-year-old girl worth a potential middle-class tax break? Ask the current iteration of the Republican party.
Sensible conservatives have overlooked ineptitude, outright stupidity, fascist threats, open misogyny, and borderline-insane levels of sex-, homo-, and xenophobia in pursuit of their fiscal agenda. In Republican senate candidate Roy Moore, Alabama voters have overlooked respect for the Constitution and the sort of racism most people thought went out of print decades ago. But it gets worse.
Well into his thirties, Moore had a predatory yen for teenage girls, two of them as young as 14, according to a report Thursday from the Washington Post. He met one while she was working as a Santa’s helper in a mall, another on a park bench. He took them on dates, one progressing to sexual fondling that left Moore’s victim feeling violated and ashamed, according to the woman’s own account. The paper got four women to allege on the record and under their own names that Moore had approached them decades ago, when Moore’s political career was still nascent. None of the women, according to the Post, have donated to or volunteered for the campaigns of Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in the Republican primary, or Doug Jones, his Democratic rival in the general election.
To make a rich story even richer, Moore just weeks ago appeared at a church event and blamed America’s ills—including child abuse—on forgetting God. “We put ourselves above God, and in doing so we forgot the basic source of our morality. [...] All across our land we have child abuse, we have sodomy, we have murder, we have rape, we have all kind of immoral things happening because we have forgotten God.”
I guess, back when he was romantically pursuing teenagers as a thirtysomething man, Roy Moore forgot God!
Republican lawmakers—from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski—have spoken up against Roy Moore since the news broke. McConnell’s office says Moore should bow out of the Senate race if the allegations are true. Everybody is very, very disappointed that Roy Moore, an actual crazy person, is also a creep. Who could have guessed?
One would think that predatory sexual behavior around children should turn any candidate toxic to any voting bloc, especially a voting bloc that contains religious conservatives—the Jesus party, the Ned Flanders party, the family board game night party, the life valuers and freedom-cherishers who brandish their Constitutions as though they were written with the same divine inspiration as their Bibles party. But Donald Trump’s election showed that the party of the moral majority’s morals are slippery when it comes to somebody who they believe might enact their agenda.
It didn’t use to be this bad. Former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, incurious, unprepared and inept, didn’t singlehandedly bring down John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, but she sure helped. Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin, armed with the sort of confident stupidity on female anatomy that only religious men seem to have, lost to Claire McCaskill in 2012 after declaring that in the case of “legitimate rape,” women can’t get pregnant because their bodies have ways to “shut that whole thing down.”
And then came Trump. And then came Montana’s Greg Gianforte, who assaulted a reporter but got elected anyway.
Historically, party cheerleaders have turned their heads away from terrible behavior on both sides of the aisle. The left still hasn’t had a long, uncomfortable conversation about Bill Clinton’s legacy and alleged sexual misconduct. In the 1990’s, some of the women most ardently attacking Monica Lewinsky and his other accusers are today the loudest voices condemning predatory behavior from powerful men. The hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed.
But nothing the 90’s could muster is matched in immediacy or severity with what we’re dealing with today. Last fall, GOP lawmaker after GOP lawmaker clicked their tongue and disavowed then-candidate Donald Trump’s caught-on-tape comments about how much he enjoys being able to grab women “by the pussy.” Mike Pence’s performative moral disappointment in Trump lasted about a week before everything was hunky dory again, and now the fine, upstanding churchgoing Indianan is as much Trump’s lapdog as any of the beady-eyed, red-faced Fuck Your Feelings Dan Scavino types. Turns out, none of them really were concerned and principled conservatives who cared about morality. They just played them on TV.
Last fall, self-identified sensible GOP voters proved they were willing to overlook sexual assault in the service of their agenda, an Obamacare repeal and tax reform. To those voters and pols and pundits, the possibility of pursuing Paul Ryan policy wonk goals were in sum more of a moral good than Trump’s grabby tangerine hands were a moral bad.
How’s all that worked out? No tax reform, no Obamacare repeal, no major pieces of legislation passed. All sensible Republicans have is the damning record of turning their heads the other way.
In electing Trump, spineless Republicans have sold their souls and gotten Monopoly money in return. If they continue to support Moore in any way, the moral high ground will be under water.