A society where nothing is forgivable is as untenable as one where every transgression is hand-waved away. The things we forgive in the name of compassion should be many. The things we forgive in the name of comity should be large. That said, the things we forgive in service to partisan tribalism should be tightly constrained.
The things we should forgive for a child-molesting, law-breaking, edge-case wackjob who will stain the Senate and the Republican Party with his creepy sexual predilections, his contempt for the rule of law, his thinly veiled racial animus, and his role in the firmament of Bannonite political arsonists? Pretty much nothing.
The judge’s behavior is unforgivable, no matter what your ideological leanings and party identification may be. That hasn’t stopped President Trump and Steve Bannon from continuing to back Roy Moore. The only people in Washington with even vaguely clean hands are in the hated Establishment, which dropped Moore like a radioactive potato after his grotesque behavior with teenage girls made the news.
This week, just to prove that its response to hitting rock bottom is to bellow “Keep digging!” the Trump administration sent a clear signal it’s perfectly happy with Moore’s history of serial child sexual assault as long as he’s a solid vote on their tax bill. It started on the weekend politics shows with Mick Mulvaney of the White House Budget office and Mark Short, the White House legislative liaison, rolling out the Team Trump line of “We’ll leave it to the people of Alabama to decide.”
This is an administration and a president with a declarative opinion on everything from NFL policies to NCAA basketball players to Kim Jong Un’s waistline. You might have noticed that President Best Mind has many opinions he shares briskly and loudly on Twitter, generally in the mornings when he’s perched his ample backside on the golden toilet in the executive residence of the White House. Suddenly, nay, miraculously, Trump and his minions have no opinion on what should be done about Roy Moore. It’s an election miracle!
It took Kellyanne Conway—a woman whose soulless, serial lying has become the entirety of her personality—to grab the controls of the Trump plane and send it crashing to the ground faster than Roy Moore’s pants as he lurks under the bleachers at a high-school cheerleading practice. In an appearance on Fox & Friends, which in the White House has an audience of one, Conway argued for Dirty Roy, saying, “I’m telling you, we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”
Even the Fox News hosts had a moment of stunned silence, perhaps shocked that a senior counselor to the president of the United States was defending Alabama’s Uncle Creepy, perhaps hypnotized by the last tiny shred of Conway’s integrity being vaporized live on television in service to Steve Bannon’s hand-picked candidate.
For far too many on the conservative side of the fence, the defenses of Moore have taken on one of two strained, agonizingly contradictory themes. The first path is “Moore is bad, but Doug Jones will vote with the Democrats.” This is tribal whataboutism at its peak. Doug Jones isn’t going to be the deciding vote on squat in the U.S. Senate; he’s there for two years at most if the good people of Alabama can nominate a Republican candidate who isn’t a kid-fondling reptile.
The second, blisteringly stupid argument is that this is some kind of grand conspiracy theory and the real villain in the story of Moore’s victims is… wait for it… the news media. The argument, as tiresome as it is predictable, in what remains of the ruins of the conservative movement comes down to this: “Well, Roy Moore may be a guy who likes to have teen girls touch his junk in his backwoods love shack, but hey The Washington Post is worse, amirite?”
Then there’s the Bannon-fueled conspiracy-theory faction, which has been out in force for a few weeks, like grotesque locusts. The usual cast of characters has been in evidence, digging for dirt, not on Moore, but on his victims. The Virgin Matt Boyle, a stout little gargoyle usually perched on Steve Bannon’s scrofulous shoulder, was deployed to Alabama briefly, but ended up confirming The Washington Post’s reporting. Infowars and the Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft—rightly called the Stupidest Man on the Internet—have been full throttle in trying to turn Moore’s mess into a Deep State conspiracy.
Sadly, the Never Trump movement’s time machine is in the shop, so as disappointing as this may be, Bill Kristol, Jeb Bush, and I didn’t travel back in time to the 1970s and use our RINO powers to make Roy Moore a pedo-curious sleazebag.
The vast majority of Americans believe Moore’s victims came forward to expose the true nature of his behavior. The Bannon right may not, but it’s worth reviewing the old Ian Fleming rule: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
Let’s play political shenanigans, and grant that one case could be a set-up. Maybe. Two? Almost impossible. Now that we’ve heard from 10 women who have made credible on-the-record claims backed up by contemporaneous eyewitnesses, the chances of this being a conspiracy are absolutely zero.
For the emergent kook-right who see an army of Soros-NWO-ZOG Lizard People Illuminati Deep State disinfo agents working to bring down Donald Trump while imposing Sharia law in every burg in this great nation of ours, let me give you some real talk: Skip your Alex Jones vitamins and remove the tinfoil hat, please.
Hermetic, secure conspiracies to knock out political opponents are the stuff of novels. Conspiracy is hard. It doesn’t work like House of Cards. Fabricating evidence that holds up to the light is even harder. Coaching and training witnesses to deliver cogent, consistent lies is harder still. Everything leaks eventually. People are flawed. Mistakes get made. I’m not going to try to convince the pro-Moore residents of Alabama, the readers of Chumpbart, or the eager Bannonite hordes that this is the case, but it is.
As for the Moore supporters in Alabama, by God, you may get your wish. You may elect a man who puts his personal religious views before the Constitution, who has lied and blustered his way to into the arms of Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, but you won’t be proud of him in the end. What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light, and you’ll carry the guilt of supporting a man whom history will record as a child molester as a U.S. senator.
For Moore’s defenders, enablers, and the crew of whataboutists, just remember: Some stains don’t wash out. Some actions can’t be forgiven.