In a better world the fact that so many famous men have been credibly accused lately of sexual misconduct would make it harder to stand by any one of them. In the Nietzschean world we inhabit it’s easier because Moore gets to hide in a crowd. Even though, unlike most of the men who’ve been swept up in scandal the past month, he’s been accused of targeting a child.
The very fact that abuse is prevalent ends up undermining the case for punishing it, even if the punishment is no harsher than denying high office to someone who faces multiple accusers. Congress apparently made its peace with that twisted logic long ago, given the toothlessness of the chambers’ ethics committees. Now it’s a straightforward matter of not making any special exceptions to exclude Moore.
President Donald Trump’s decision to embrace Roy Moore on Tuesday was rooted in several factors, but one of the biggest: the noise and confusion from a recent tidal wave of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations from Hollywood to media to politics.
“(It) made it easier and easier to stick with Moore,” a Republican source close to the White House said…
“Since then, it’s become much harder to tell who the bad guy is,” said a Republican close to the White House, noting that the allegations against Democratic Sen. Al Franken, the renewed chatter about Bill Clinton, the explosive revelations about legacy newsman Charlie Rose and the suspension of New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush were all developments the President was following closely.
It hasn’t become any harder to tell who the bad guy is. It’s become considerably easier. It’s become harder politically to get rid of your own bad guys, though, as bad guys from the other side have been exposed. The charges against Moore are more serious than what Franken’s facing but less serious than what Bill Clinton faces from Juanita Broaddrick. To boot Moore while both are still welcome in elite Democratic circles and while John Conyers defiantly crawls on would be viewed as unilateral disarmament by right-wing populists. Besides, as CNN rightly notes, Trump doesn’t have the juice politically anymore to push Moore out of the race, assuming he ever did. If he could have forced the Alabama GOP to replace Moore by retracting his endorsement, he might have considered that as a price worth paying to demonstrate his raw political power. But primary voters slapped him hard by choosing Moore over his candidate, Luther Strange, and now Trump is afraid to cross Moore again. If he tells him to drop out and Moore says no, Trump looks weak. He’d rather stand with an accused child molester, knowing his base will stand with them, than look weak.
There’s another reason he’s reluctant to dump Moore. How does he do that when he was in a similar situation a year ago?
During animated conversations with senior Republicans and White House aides, the president said he doubted the stories presented by Moore’s accusers and questioned why they were emerging now, just weeks before the election, according to two White House advisers and two other people familiar with the talks…
He has also come to identify with the candidate. Trump has long viewed the tumultuous final month of the 2016 campaign as a critical moment in his political rise, when it became apparent who in the Republican Party was with him and who wasn’t. As establishment Republicans withdrew their support for Moore in recent days, one senior White House official said, the president remembered that many of those same figures abandoned him, too.
The alleged victims and local residents who remember Moore chasing teens are all lying, apparently. And even if they aren’t, noted one Alabama pastor, who can blame Moore for liking ’em young? “The lady that he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, is a younger woman,” he said. “He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.” Moore’s totally innocent of these scurrilous charges — and even if he isn’t, he hasn’t done anything wrong.
His opponent, Doug Jones, is killing with him ads over the scandal, releasing the one below today, but the latest poll brings some good news for Moore. He’s up two points, the first survey in a week to show him ahead. The bad news is that the same pollster had him up six points against Jones a week ago. He’s losing ground even in the polls that give him an edge. Maybe Trump will turn it around for him by campaigning in Alabama, although if he goes all-in for Moore and Moore fumbles the seat away anyway, it’ll be twice in the span of a few months that Trump bet big on the loyalty of deep red Alabama voters and lost. In lieu of an exit question, keep your eye on this news — Moore’s communications director, John Rogers, has suddenly resigned with the election just three weeks away. That’s unusual at this stage and suggests a profound difference of opinion internally on what the campaign should be doing (ethically, maybe?) to respond to the allegations against Moore. What happened behind the scenes that bothered Rogers so much he felt obliged to quit? It’s probably not a pay dispute as Moore has been flush with cash ever since the scandal erupted. “You molested me when I was 14” and “You sexually assaulted me when I was 16” usually aren’t big moneymakers when they’re tossed at political candidate but that’s how partisan donors roll now.
— Doug Jones (@DougJones) November 22, 2017