The Washington Post
By Michael Gerson
Image courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The prospect of Sen. Roy Moore has been both horrifying and clarifying. It would be difficult to design a more controlled, precise test of the moral gag reflex in politics.
In this political lifeboat dilemma, Republicans are being asked what principles they are willing to throw overboard in the interest of power. A belief that character matters in politics? Splash. A commitment to religious and ethnic inclusion? Splash. Moral outrage at credible charges of sexual predation against teen girls? Splash.
Those remaining in this lightened boat display a kind of shocking clarity. They value certain political ends — tax cuts, a conservative judiciary — more than ethical considerations. When it comes to confirming judges who oppose Roe v. Wade, the vote of a statesman is no better than the vote of a sexual predator — or, presumably, of a drug dealer or a murderer. This type of calculation admits no limiting principle.
So, in this view, it does not really matter that there is (as Ivanka Trump put it) “no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts” in Moore’s case. It does not matter that Moore’s explanations have been shifting and slippery. It does not matter that Moore has said that homosexual behavior should be illegal, or that he compared resisting gay marriage to resisting the Holocaust, or that he referred to Asians as “yellows,” or that he doesn’t believe former president Barack Obama is a natural born citizen, or that he believes there are communities living under shariah law in Illinois and Indiana.
Those willing to swallow all this — all the ignorance, cruelty, creepiness and malice — have truly shown the strength of their partisan commitment. A purity indistinguishable from mania.
The hope for American politics is found in the reverse, the photographic negative, of all these trends. In leaders who affirm and exemplify the nobility of the political enterprise. In arguments that elevate principle above expediency. In institutions that shape character, confront corruption, take the side of the exploited and echo the newly pertinent question: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
The Washington Post
By Ruth Marcus
Image courtesy of Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed,” Jonathan Swift observed. That was three centuries ago, so our current, degraded condition has deep historical roots. Yet it feels, more and more, that we are experiencing the end of shame.
Our sad national trajectory has been on display recently with two oddly connected stories: Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and the tax bill. They share a common thread in President Trump, but their significance goes beyond the president. Trump surely helped fuel the end of shame, but just as surely we were already on that degraded path.
No one who has watched Moore expected that reports of how he allegedly preyed on young girls would provoke shame from the egocentric, already discredited judge. Moore has long proved — with his flagrant disregard for constitutional values, his homophobia and racism — that he is impervious to such feelings.
The open question involved Moore’s true-believing supporters and political allies of convenience: At long last, had they any decency? For some, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and most of his colleagues, the answer has been a welcome yes. Others, most prominently Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and, inevitably, Trump, have failed what should have been an easy test. To conclude that electing an accused child molester to the Senate is preferable to seating a Democrat is the epitome of shamelessness.
If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, what does it say, exactly, when our most senior public officials feel no such compunction? What does it mean if we lose Swift’s capacity to wonder at the absence of shame?
By Anna Claire Vollers
Image courtesy of AP Photo/Gadsden Times, Steve Latham
Roy Moore’s penchant for flirting with teen girls was “common knowledge” and “not a big secret” around Gadsden, according to some area residents.
The Senate candidate has denied any wrongdoing in the wake of a report from The Washington Post in which four women accused Moore of inappropriate advances – and in one instance, a sexual encounter – toward them when they were teens and he was in his early 30s.
One of the four women claims she was 14 at the time, making her the only one whose claim would represent a legal violation. Moore has said he never met her. A fifth woman came forward this afternoon.
Moore and other Republican leaders have questioned why it took so long for his accusers, now in their 50s, to come forward publicly.
And yet people who lived in Etowah County during that time have said Moore’s flirting with and dating much younger women and girls was no secret.
The Washington Post
By Philip Bump
Image courtesy of Cameron Carnes/The Washington Post
There’s been a consistent refrain from those seeking to discredit The Washington Post’s reporting that uncovered a 1979 incident in which Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly fondled a 14-year-old girl: Why now? Why is it only a month before the election that this story came to light, after being unmentioned for the past 40 years?
Here, for example, is Moore himself making the argument:
“To think grown women would wait 40 years before a general election to bring charges is unbelievable,” he said at an event in Alabama over the weekend. He later added, “Isn’t it strange after 40 years of constant investigation, that people have waited four weeks before a general election to bring their complaint? That’s not a coincidence.”
Of course it’s not a coincidence that the women came forward just as Moore is seeking election to the Senate — but not in the way Moore means.
Moore has been a controversial figure in American politics for some time but mostly at the edges. His fight to preserve a monument to the Ten Commandments in a state building 15 years ago gained him national attention — but not necessarily national importance. Now, he’s seeking election to the Senate, one of 100 people who make up one half of the legislative branch of government. It’s a much more important fight nationally, and, as a result, has attracted much more attention.
There’s a reason that people with skeletons in their closets are loathe to seek elected office: Once they do, the scrutiny that is a natural part of the campaign process threatens to expose those skeletons. This is less true for lower-level elected positions, where there is less media attention and fewer resources. For something like the Senate or the presidency, though, that scrutiny is both intense — and should be expected.
Why now? Because that’s when an important story about a man who is right now seeking election to the Senate was unearthed, researched and vetted. It’s no more complicated than that.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Republican nominee Roy Moore should end his Senate campaign in Alabama, following allegations that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
“I think he should step aside,” McConnell said. His comments marked the most definitive position he has taken on Moore’s candidacy since The Washington Post reported the allegations on Thursday.
Asked by a reporter whether he believed the allegations, McConnell responded: “I believe the women, yes.”
Although it is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot before the Dec. 12 special election, McConnell said he is exploring the option of a write-in campaign by Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in the primary, or another Republican.
The Post reported Thursday that Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied the allegations and has vowed to continue his campaign.