Saturday , November 11, 2017 - 5:00 AM
This Nov. 12, 2003, photo shows Roy Moore looking at a Ten Commandments display as he arrives at the Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala. Roy Moore wouldn't stand a chance in many U.S. Senate races after defying federal court orders, describing Islam as a false religion, calling homosexuality evil and pulling out a revolver on stage before hundreds of supporters. Moore is the GOP candidate for senate. He will face Democratic nominee Doug Jones. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
Elected Republicans generally reacted in one of two ways to The Washington Post's deeply sourced report of one woman who describes being kissed and fondled by now-GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore when she was 14 years old and reports by three other women who tell about inappropriate advances by Moore when they were teens.
Tragically, one of the ways was NOT, "This is an abomination. We believe the accounts of four separate women and corroborating evidence. He must immediately withdraw from the race. If he does not and somehow manages to win we will not permit him to caucus with Republicans. No party advantage or political boost should be derived from the election of someone credibly reported to behave in this manner. Had we known about this we would never have countenanced his run."
Instead, a slew of U.S. senators said he should leave if the allegations were "true." This is a shameful dodge. They need to assess whether to believe Moore, who denies the charges (this from someone twice removed from the bench), or the painful, detailed recollections of his accusers. What's it going to be, fellas?
All they could do was manage to blame Stephen K. Bannon, who backed Moore. But of course, they have all endorsed Moore and now have the power to disown him. That would require them to not take his word over the accounts of four women who do not know each other and have no motivation to make any of this up.
And that was not the worst of it. Alabama Republicans uttered despicable defenses of Moore:
"Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus," Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told The Washington Examiner. "There's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual."
Actually, the conduct described by the 14-year-old is both illegal and immoral. (It's not clear whether the other accounts describe a crime or "just" deeply inappropriate and immoral conduct.)
The Alabama Republican governor intends to vote for Moore but won't endorse him.
A Toronto Star reporter tweeted, " 'It was 40 years ago,' Alabama Marion County GOP chair David Hall tells me. 'I really don't see the relevance of it. He was 32. She was supposedly 14. She's not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.'"
Hall wasn't done, according to the reporter. "'The story said she said he tried to get her to touch his genitals.' Hall: 'Well, she said he may have TRIED to. But we're talking something that somebody SAID happened, 40 years ago. It wouldn't affect whether or not I'd vote for him."
The same reporter also recounted another response:
"After a long pause, Alabama Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow tells me he'd vote for Roy Moore even if Moore did commit a sex crime against a girl. 'I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn't want to vote for Doug (Jones, Moore's Democratic opponent),' he says. 'I'm not saying I support what he did.'"
The reporter, Daniel Dale, also documented responses from other Alabama Republicans, all vowing to back Moore.
If you are sickened by this — both the cowering from national Republicans and the repulsive defense of Moore coming from local Republicans — you must not be a GOP "tribalist," the new brand of Republican who will justify any conduct, excuse any behavior, rationalize any rhetoric, adopt any conspiracy theory and deny any evidence to protect the "tribe." It's nothing short of moral nihilism, not to mention disqualifying from public service.
This has been a long time coming. Republicans put up with Trump calling Mexicans rapists, insulting a POW, making racist accusations against a federal judge, attacking Gold Star parents and boasting on tape about sexual abuse of women. They've chosen to ignore accounts from more than a dozen women who allege Trump engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior. Republicans have condoned lying, bullying and willful ignorance by a man some of them don't trust with the authority to launch nuclear war. So would they let a few allegations of sexual exploitation of children get in the way of a Senate seat? You've got their answer.
Let's hope national and local Republicans reconsider their immoral and abhorrent behavior. Let's pray they do some soul-searching about the purpose of public service and their responsibilities as human beings. If they don't reverse course, they've given voters one more reason to get rid of the whole lot of them in 2018.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.