Since The Washington Post published a story Thursday describing Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s efforts to allegedly initiate a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old when he was 32, the response has been … something.
What did you think would happen?
If you thought, “Well, he is finished in the party now,” you should go back to the coma you have obviously been in for the past year, because this is the New Republican Party, where no one is exactly certain about what they believe, only that R GOOD, D BAD.
Or maybe you thought that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), alone, would say, “This seems like grounds not to run. Please, do not run. We do not want you,” that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would enter a quantum state where, even if any reporter managed to determine his location, it would still be impossible to ask him any questions about this, that Senate leadership would calmly and rationally observe that IF TRUE, these were very bad things indeed?
That Breitbart News would attempt to scoop The Post’s account by publishing an article ahead of time that argued, in part, that it was not bad that Moore had courted a teenager because he had been very romantic about it?
That Moore would announce that this was a smear by a failing fake newspaper and that he had to go to Congress to restore conservative values — specifically, the sexual mores of 1815, but creepier?
That Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler would say there were lots of teens with older men in the Bible, including Mary and Joseph, who later “became parents of Jesus”? This is an actual quote that I am not making up. That was his takeaway.
And that other Alabama GOP members would say that, even IF TRUE, they would still vote for Roy Moore, because — according to one county chairman — a vote for his opponent would be a vote for the whole “Democrat party”?
If that’s what you thought, you’d be right.
I don’t know that I’m surprised that reports of this kind of predation aren’t a career-ender. (Look around! Look around! How lucky we are to be alive right now!) After all, it has already been established that Moore is a bunch of bibles under a judge’s robe who does not care for the Constitution or rule of law and thinks that Muslim faith should disqualify people from holding office, and people kept funneling him money and support in spite of that.
The new GOP motto is the sorority classic: “Right or wrong, do it strong.” Still, it makes me wonder: Is anything enough? Suppose it were to surface between now and the election that Moore was guilty of murder and cannibalism.
Here is my best guess of the Republican response:
McCain would instantly come forward to say that he disapproved of murderers and the man should step down. Everyone would ignore him. Someone would snipe that, as a former member of the armed forces, he had no standing for disapproving of murder.
Mitch McConnell and the rest of the leadership would observe that, IF TRUE, it was certainly bad, but note that the victim of said murder had been oddly silent for the past 30 years and that they were reserving judgment until they could question him further.
The Alabama GOP would announce that even these tepid denunciations were FAR TOO MUCH and they would not listen to McConnell if he told them to pour water on themselves because they were on fire. Furthermore, in the Bible, Cain murdered Abel, and no one had told Cain he could not hold elected office, which just showed that there was precedent in the Good Book for this sort of thing. Also, what is Christianity, if not the belief that you can devour someone’s body under the right circumstances? Some theologians would angrily object that this was not at all the message, but they would be immediately ignored.
Breitbart would publish an exposé saying that this was not a regular murder; it was a nice murder that anyone would be honored to have happen to them, and that unlike killers who just tossed their victims into lakes in garbage bags, the judge had lovingly and respectfully buried his eight victims and planted a garden over them, and that the sautéed liver resulting from his act had been absolutely delicious. Also, it was all a lie. (Somehow it would maintain both of these things at once.)
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump would say. “And if I could, why not Roy?”
Fox News would air a long special linking Bill Clinton to Jeffrey Dahmer, for no ostensible reason.
Roy Moore would be elected.