The GOP’s knee-jerk defense of Roy Moore (UPDATE)
Men who are sexual predators come from all professions and political persuasions. How political parties and their adherents respond to allegations of sexual abuse, however, is quite different.
Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election to pick a new senator from Alabama, has been accused of trying to engage in sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Etowah County, Alabama. The Washington Post published the bombshell yet well-sourced story, which included allegations from three other women, all in their teens, who said that Moore “pursued” them during the same time period. The other three said the contact did not go beyond kissing while on dates with Moore, and drinking wine (the legal drinking age was 19).
The details of the contact with 14-year-old Leigh Corfman are not anything you would want to hear about between a young teen and a 32-year-old man. Corfman says they met outside a courtroom, which her mother verifies, and Moore offered to stay with the girl while her mother was in court for a child custody hearing.
“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’” says Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”
Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she remembers thinking. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home, and he did.
The story reports that Corfman confided to friends at the time that she was “seeing an older man,” and the friends told the Post that she identified the man as Moore. Corfman says she told her mother the story about 10 years later as Moore started to make a public name for himself.
Moore has denied the charges, blaming Democrats (who had nothing to do with the story) and the Post itself. He has refused to drop out of the race and is using the allegations of being a pedophile (she was 14, after all, and he allegedly tried to get her to touch his underwear-covered penis) to raise money for the Senate election on Dec. 12.
When asked on Sean Hannity’s radio show (I’m sure you’ll pardon me if I don’t provide a link) whether he dated teenage girls, Moore answered, “Not generally, no,” and said he didn’t date any teen “without the permission of her mother.” Nope, nothing perverted about that picture.
Even though many GOP senators have embraced Moore up to this point, Republicans at the national level said that the allegations, “if true,” would mean that Moore would have to leave the race. Note the “if true” caveat, which nearly all Republicans used in commenting.
The only Republicans on record for calling Moore to drop out are Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney, who is considering running for the Senate from Utah.
Republicans in Alabama, however, are fully in Moore’s corner. The defenses range from “not true” to “he didn’t force himself on her” to “sometimes 14-year-olds make bad decisions” to “I trust Putin more than The Washington Post.”
Steve Bannon of Brietbart News, formerly a top adviser to Donald Trump, used the excuse that whatever contact there was, it was OK because it was “romantic.”
The truly bizarre defenses came from some Alabama Republican officials who tried to give Moore cover from the Bible.
Here’s Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
It seems that Ziegler missed some Sunday school lessons. Let’s look at Matthew 1:25:
“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.”
Got that? The whole basis of Christianity is that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus and that Mary and Joseph didn’t live together as man and wife until after Jesus was born. And despite the fact that there is no historical record of either Mary’s or Joseph’s ages, Ziegler seems fine with the older-man-teen-girl model of dating.
The problem, of course, is that if the GOP doesn’t back Moore, a (shudder) Democrat might be elected.
Then there’s the Putin defense. According to a story in The Hill, quoting Paul Reynolds, the Republican national committeeman from Alabama:
“My gosh, it’s The Washington Post. If I’ve got a choice of putting my welfare into the hands of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or The Washington Post, Putin wins every time,” he said.
“This is going to make Roy Moore supporters step up to the plate and give more, work more and pray more.”
Of course, what can you expect from a party that backed Trump, who basically admitted sexual assault on the infamous Access Hollywood tape when he said he grabbed women “by the pussy”? There are multiple women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, but to Republicans, his crude behavior is either “fake news” or doesn’t matter. They just want their tax cuts.
As a study in contrasts, let’s visit the case of Anthony Weiner. Weiner, as you recall, became infamous for sending explicit photos over his phone to young women of … well, let’s just say the subject matter matched his last name. The multi-term Democratic congressman from New York first gained notoriety in 2011, when these photos came to light.
Democrats, starting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, quickly called for Weiner to resign, and she was joined by other Democrats. Weiner was forced to resign from Congress. His political career over, he has struggled ever since. He took up the sexting habit once again and is now serving a 21-month prison sentence for sexting with a minor.
In recent months, there has been an avalanche of news reports of women coming forward with revelations about sexual harassment and assault from famous men in Hollywood, the media, in politics, and elsewhere. #MeToo trended on Twitter as women reluctantly shared stories of assault out of their pasts. Celebrities such as Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, and political reporter Mark Halperin no longer have careers because of these accusations. At Fox News, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Eric Bolling all were forced out. Comedian Louis C.K. is just the most recent one to have to face the truth.
Democratic as well as Republican men have committed sexual harassment and sexual assault. But here’s the difference: When those on the left are on the receiving end of these allegations, they are immediately denounced by others on the left. When anyone on the right is accused, they’re booked on Fox News.
The Alabama election is about one month away. Roy Moore still leads in most polls against his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, who successfully prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan members who blew up a black church and killed four little girls.
Which candidate do you think belongs in the Senate? After all, as Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker tweeted:
UPDATE: Perhaps the dam is springing some leaks. Two more GOP senators, Steve Daines of Montana and Mike Lee of Utah, have withdrawn their endorsements of Moore, and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey said he thinks Moore should step aside. Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Republican congresswoman from Virginia, has said Moore “does not belong in the Senate.” Rep. Peter King of New York is giving Moore 48 hours to prove his innocence. Ohio Gov. John Kasich doesn’t believe Moore, either. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fundraising arm that helps elect Republicans, has severed ties with the candidate.
In addition, some in the GOP are hoping to persuade Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who is in the “expressing concern” camp about Moore, to postpone the election completely to give the state Republicans a chance to replace Moore on the ballot, since it’s too late to remove him with the election just weeks away.
NEW UPDATES: Several reports say Ivey will not move the date of the election. Add Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Maine’s Susan Collins, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and Texas’ John Cornyn to the list of GOP senators telling Roy Moore to hit the road. And Arizona’s Jeff Flake says if the choice were between Moore and a Democrat, he’d choose the Democrat.
A fifth woman has accused Moore of sexual assault when she was 16, and various colleagues of Moore said it was “common knowledge” that he dated high school girls when he was assistant district attorney.
NEW UPDATE: The total number of members of the GOP wanting Roy Moore to go away has reached 20.