It is a political, tactical and moral mistake for Republicans to continue backing Judge Roy Moore for Alabama's Senate seat.
In brief, he has been accused by multiple women of, decades ago, making unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenage girls -- one as young as 14 -- and he was in his 30s. At least four women say he initiated sexual contact with them.
When asked if he thought the Moore allegations were true, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, "I believe the women, yes. ... I think he should step aside" -- a sentiment shared, publicly and privately, by nearly all Republican senators.
President Donald Trump at first struck the right chord. After his handpicked Republican candidate lost the primary election, Trump called Moore to congratulate him. Everything was fine, until the allegations. Then Trump said, "If the allegations are true, he should drop out." When the Republican National Committee withdrew its funding for Moore, Trump went along with it.
Then Trump began to twist, and he now says that Moore is innocent until proven guilty, that these are all old claims and that we can't have a lefty in the Senate:
"(Moore) denies it," the President said last week. "Look, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You're talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen."
Trump then blasted Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, via Twitter: "The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!"
These are not good enough reasons.
Again, Moore was not Trump's guy. Luther Strange -- the incumbent appointed to complete the term of former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who became Attorney General -- was Trump's choice. But Steve Bannon, Trump's former aide, wanted Moore, presumably because the former judge supported Bannon's desire to ditch Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Yet during the Luther Strange and Roy Moore debates, the candidates fell all over themselves to argue who would be more closely linked to the Trump agenda. So, no matter who won, he figured to be an ally to the President.
Defenders of Moore ask, why now? After decades in public service, why are these allegations only now coming out? A better question, why the allegations in the first place? Are they credible? But to answer the timing question, the more likely "culprit" is not Democratic opposition, but Harvey Weinstein, whose sexual abuse and misconduct opened the door for other accusers in other fields to come forward. That these allegations are only now being taken seriously is too little too late, but the timing could not have been worse for Moore.
Of course he is "innocent until proven guilty." This is not a court of law. This is politics. Are the defenders of Moore willing to discount all of his accusers but believe the accusers against Bill Clinton?
The voluminous allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a friend and patron of the political left, have forced the Democrats to reconsider their adoration for the likes of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, whose resumes include credible allegations of sexual assault, allegations long ignored.
For now, Republicans occupy the high moral ground, as Democrats, already dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., squirm to explain how and why they ignored, downplayed or accepted the sexual behavior of party icons Clinton and Ted Kennedy.
With Moore defenders, in part, circling the wagons on Moore, many Trump voters apparently cannot answer this question: Why did you "overlook" the allegations made by some dozen women against now-President Donald Trump?
Trump was not running against Mother Teresa. Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, a woman against whom a credible allegation was made that she verbally intimidated Juanita Broaddrick just two weeks after Bill Clinton allegedly raped her. Conservative Barbara Olson's book "Hell to Pay" and liberal Christopher Hitchens' book "No One Left to Lie To" depict Hillary as the Toscanini of the "nuts or sluts" strategy effectively employed to malign and marginalize her husband's accusers.
This is the person against whom Donald Trump ran. So, no, Republicans need not apologize for supporting Trump against a person whose actions enabled, covered up for and therefore perpetuated her husband's misconduct.
By supporting Roy Moore, Republicans, on the issue of sexual misconduct, risk turning into the my-guy-wrong-or-wrong hypocrites from across the aisle.