Earlier this week, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait asked his fellow liberals to imagine that Roy Moore were a Democrat. “It’s easy to feel superior about this when opposition to grotesque treatment of teenage girls lines up neatly with your own party’s well-being,” he wrote. “If you’re a liberal, ask yourself what you would do if the circumstances were reversed.”
Thanks to Al Franken, we can now answer that question better. The details of each man’s offense differ: Moore is accused of pursuing teenager girls while he was in his 30s, and two women have accused him of sexual assaulting them when they were teenagers. Leeann Tweeden, a broadcaster for KABC in Los Angeles, said Franken kissed and groped her without her consent. Still, each party’s reaction is telling. Each is split, but in opposite ways.
In the GOP, the people taking the harshest line against Moore are congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell. They want Moore to withdraw from his senate race largely because they fear Democrats will use him to tar other Republican candidates as sexist, as they did in 2012 when Todd Akin, the GOP’s Senate candidate in Missouri, said it was impossible for women to get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” But McConnell and company have been stymied by local Alabama Republicans—and Donald Trump-supporting media personalities like Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity—who won’t abandon Moore. In the GOP, it’s the Washington establishment that wants Moore gone. Grassroots activists and the right-wing media want him to stay.