Jeff Flake: I'd vote for a Democrat over Moore

If you didn’t know that Flake was retiring, you’d know after this quote. There’s no way a Republican gets away with endorsing a Democrat, even when there are accusations of sexual assault floating around, and keeps his job. The touchstone of the “negative partisanship” that rules our era is that the other team wants to destroy the country and therefore must be kept from power at all costs, involving whatever moral compromises are necessary. “Flight 93 election,” right?

And in fairness to Flake’s critics on that, Democrat Doug Jones does present a huge ideological problem. You would think that if any state could produce a centrist Democrat who’d be more tolerable to righties than a standard-issue Pelosi liberal, it’s Alabama. But no, even in the deep south the Democratic nominee is a snarling pro-abortion zombie right up to the point of birth. Any pro-life Republican who pulls the lever for that would have to try to find comfort in the fact that Jones’s tenure in the Senate would be short and his party would have little influence over abortion policy with the GOP in the majority. And even then, as a matter of pure morals, the idea is repulsive.

Good thing staying home is an option!

“If this choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, a Democrat,” Flake told reporters Monday in response to a question about who he would support. “For sure.”…

Flake also backed Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) call to expel Moore from the Senate if Moore wins the election.

“I don’t think if will get to that, but if it does, yes,” Flake said about expelling Moore from the Senate.

In case there was anything ambiguous in that:

The New Yorker, the same outlet that destroyed Harvey Weinstein, has a new report out tonight about Moore’s alleged habit of hanging around the local mall in the 1970s to chat up teenaged girls:

This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. (A request for comment from the Moore campaign was not answered.) Several of them asked that I leave their names out of this piece. The stories that they say they’ve heard for years have been swirling online in the days since the Post published its report. “Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls,” the independent Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his Web site on Sunday. (Wilson declined to divulge his sources.) Teresa Jones, a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early eighties, told CNN last week that “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high-school girls.” Jones told me that she couldn’t confirm the alleged mall banning, but said, “It’s a rumor I’ve heard for years.”…

[T]wo officers I spoke to this weekend, both of whom asked to remain unnamed, told me that they have long heard stories about Moore and the mall. “The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one of the officers said. The legal age of consent in Alabama is sixteen, so it would not be illegal there for a man in his early thirties to date a girl who was, say, a senior in high school. But these officers, along with the other people I spoke to, said that Moore’s presence at the mall was regarded as a problem. “I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he’d been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off,” one officer told me. He also said, “I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone.”

Two former managers of the mall don’t recall him being on any “banned” list, but the New Yorker report is probably academic anyway. For all the snark we (me included) threw around earlier today about a glitzy Gloria Allred press conference in New York backfiring by rallying Alabamans around Moore, the testimony and evidence produced by Beverly Nelson have hit him hard. The dam has broken in the U.S. Senate:

The only Republicans still endorsing Moore as I write this are Rand Paul, who’s been out of commission for the past week, and Ted Cruz, who’s deathly afraid to do anything that might alienate Texas primary voters ahead of 2018 but will probably have to run away from Moore himself soon. It’s not just senators, either. Even some of Moore’s populist supporters have given up on him:

The only thing that could conceivably save Moore now, I think, would be the full-throated support of Trump. But he’s not going to get that; if anything, Trump might enjoy seeing him dumped since it’ll give him a chance to say he was right all along to back Luther Strange in the primary.

Moore is giving a news conference as I write this and denying that he’s ever even met Beverly Nelson: “I never did what she said I did. I don’t even know the woman. I don’t know anything about her. I don’t even know where the restaurant is or was.” I guess it’s time for a handwriting expert to have a look at the inscription in her yearbook. If it matches his known signature, what does he say then?

Update: A local Alabama paper has also heard about Moore’s behavior at the mall, and unlike the New Yorker, they have locals on record.

Wendy Miller told The Post that she was 14 and working as Santa’s helper at the Gadsden Mall in 1977 when Moore first spoke with her and told her she looked pretty. Two years later, when she was 16, he asked her out on dates, although her mother wouldn’t let her go.

Usry, who was a teenager at the time, remembers seeing Moore at the mall often.

“He would go and flirt with all the young girls,” he said. “It’d seem like every Friday or Saturday night (you’d see him) walking around the mall, like the kids did.”…

“Him liking and dating young girls was never a secret in Gadsden when we were all in high school,” said Sheryl Porter. “In our neighborhoods up by Noccalula Falls we heard it all the time. Even people at the courthouse know it was a well-known secret.