The party of “family values” spent the weekend in a peculiar position — defending a man accused of child molestation.
The Washington Post reported last week that four women had accused Roy Moore of making sexual advances on them while they were in their teens. Moore is the Republican nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old seat in the U.S. Senate. At the time of the alleged advances, Moore was in his early thirties. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said Moore took off her clothes and touched her when she was 14.
The unexpected news drew mixed reactions from Moore’s supporters and members of his party nationally and in Alabama. In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Moore said he “dated a lot of young ladies,” while denying any criminal responsibility and claiming the Post report was a smear campaign by the Democrats. More significantly, a poll released Saturday from JMC Analytics found members of Moore’s evangelical base more likely to vote for him after the allegations than before.
It’s obvious Roy Moore’s alleged actions and response render him more qualified for jail than the Senate. But the reaction of the Republican establishment in power in Washington is perhaps even worse. It was this group that allowed Moore to get this close to the Senate and now seems unwilling to prevent an accused child molester who admitted to pursuing high schoolers from sitting as a member of Congress.
To be sure, a number of GOP senators noted their disapproval of Moore’s sexual dalliances with children after the allegations surfaced. Among them, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., qualified their statements with skepticism over if the events actually occurred or not.
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a statement released Thursday.
Aside from doubts about the authenticity of allegations against Moore, Toomey appeared unprepared to keep Moore out of the Senate if he were to win December’s special Senate election.
“I’m not going to, you know, project what we should be doing under that hypothetical,” Toomey said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend.
According to the Supreme Court ruling in 1969’s Powell v. McCormack, Congress has the constitutional authority to expel a member because of moral unfitness. Either Toomey doesn’t think sexual assault of a child makes a person unqualified for public service, or he cares more about political power than public morality.
Of course, Moore wouldn’t even be in the position he is today without the aid of the GOP national apparatus. Prior to his most recent scandal, Moore — who supports criminalizing homosexuality and banning Muslims from serving in U.S. government — had the endorsements of most Republicans in the Senate and the financial backing of the Republican National Committee. It’s alarming, to say the least, that it took this much to make the GOP reconsider its support.
If Republicans want to hold onto their moniker as the family-friendly party, they should, at the very least, stop defending a credibly accused child molester by comparing him to Joseph and Mary. Failing to act decisively against Moore would reveal a party that stands for little other than staying in power.