For Republicans outside of Alabama, the Roy Moore thing has always been to-each-his-own. There are not many horses of his “Yahweh will smite thee” variety in the rest of America’s barn. We conceded to Alabamians their fashions because political coalitions are about policy, not manner and habits. Senator Moore would have been a reliable vote in the Senate, even if robed in the dour religiosity of the High Sparrow.
Moore is now facing credible allegations that in 1979, as a 32-year-old, he was using his big-time DA position to play the shopping mall creep to high school girls. He admits dating teenagers. He denies, though, knowing the two accusers who claim he made inappropriate sexual contact with them. He says it is all a big Democratic dirty trick.
Granted, there is the current fad in Democratic opposition research to fabricate weird sex crimes by Republicans. The Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS to peddle a whopper about Donald Trump and prostitutes peeing on President Obama’s bed in Russia. That one was so out there the media did not publish it. Moore would have us believe that Fusion GPS has since then developed the ability to forge a yearbook 40-years ago. Uh-huh.
The Washington establishment is doing a lot of “see, I told you so” about Moore. Except they didn’t. Sure, they preferred the other candidate in the Republican primaries (so did Trump). But they never told anyone Moore was a pervert. Large, well-funded, heavily staffed, political parties exist in part to do the basic due diligence to discover that a candidate for United States Senator was once on watch lists at shopping malls. If voters had known that, things would have been different. This one is on you, establishment.
The fact is that grass roots Republicans are on an amazing roll by doing the opposite of what they’re told. By not listening, the Republicans control both houses of Congress, the presidency, and Neil Gorsuch is the newest Supreme Court justice. There is going to be the occasional chaff to go with the wheat, sure. The harvest, however, remains plenty.
Lessons nevertheless should be learned.
Republicans seem particularly susceptible to moral posers. Beware the guy who makes citation to his personal rectitude. Mother Theresa never did that, always claiming to be a sinner. The apostle John wrote that if you say you are not a sinner, you are calling God a liar.
Beware, too, the moral contrarian whose sole qualification for office is the ability to draw fire from the New York Times. Anyone can get expelled from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument he installed in the courtroom. Heck, Roy Moore did it, twice.
Be suspicious of the politician who calls his advocacy “courageous.” It hardly ever is. By being a gadfly on all the hot button cultural issues of the day, Moore developed a constituency that would not have been available to him based merely on his personality and talent. It was not courage. It was opportunism.
Finally, reject those who would hijack your revolution and cast it in terms of their personal brand. Roy Moore existed as a mild curiosity before Donald Trump. Somehow, he was able to turn Trumpism into Mooreism simply by identifying both with the quality of running counter to convention.
It was a neat trick while it lasted. Some very smart people were fooled. Recall, though, that Trump had a gay man deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention calling for an end to phony culture wars. Moore has been a Five Star General in America’s phony culture wars for going on two decades.
Trumpism is about decision making based on practicality, not ideology. As the Caliphate of Mooreism collapsed over the weekend, Donald Trump was in China negotiating on behalf of American interests. Not hemmed in by abstractions found in the white papers of think tanks, he promised to forge compromises calculated to bring practical benefits.
He rejected the State Department’s preferred option of bringing North Korea to peace talks at a big round table where everyone could spend the first six months arguing who sat where, to instead call Kim Jong-un short and fat. In Alabama, I think they call that: “He shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.”
The practical impulses of Trumpism say Republicans should do what they can to hold that Senate seat. Moore should step down and be replaced on the ballot. Even if he believes that he is being falsely accused, he should not adjudicate his innocence in a Senatorial election. That would be selfish. A true believer in his political ideals would withdraw to serve the greater good. To put this in language he would understand, it is like the true mother who revealed herself to King Solomon by not permitting her baby to be cut in half.
In the end, Roy Moore is a reminder, in the words of the Psalmist, to "Put no trust in princes." Now we will see if Moore has the decency to descend from his constant moral posing and finally do the right thing for people who have placed trust in him. Will he put America First and get out of the race?