IN CASE you had forgotten, this is what decency and common sense sound like: "I believe the women." So stated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday, referring to women who have accused GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers (including one who was 14 at the time) and Mr. Moore was in his 30s. Mr. McConnell called on Mr. Moore to quit Alabama's Senate special election, which is scheduled for next month.
The majority leader's statement might seem so self-evident as not to be worth noting. Alas, such are not the times we are living through. Listen, for example, to the contortions of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, who said Sunday that she takes "very seriously allegations like this, particularly when they involve somebody who happened to be one of my daughters' ages" and that she has "tried to be a very loud voice for a very long time against sexual impropriety" — but that Mr. Moore should not "just be cast aside as guilty." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was similarly perplexed: "If these allegations are true, then absolutely, this is incredibly inappropriate behavior." These non-condemnation condemnations serve as much to cast doubt on Mr. Moore's accusers as they do to denounce Mr. Moore's alleged behavior.
But these women have no incentive to lie; just the contrary. Post reporters sought them out, not the other way around, and asked them to tell their stories about a man running to become one of the most powerful people in the country. For their trouble, Breitbart News and right-wing personalities have tried to smear these women, and powerful GOP officials from the White House on down have implied that they could be lying.
The smear campaign has so far done nothing to dent their credibility. The defense Mr. Moore offered last week on Sean Hannity's radio show, in which the Senate candidate did not rule out that he pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s, did more to bolster his accusers' stories than to rebut them. Mr. Moore's strategy is to yell "fake news" and portray himself as a victim. Meanwhile, one of Mr. Moore's former colleagues told CNN that it was "common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls," and a new accuser came forward with a harrowing story on Monday.
We already knew that Mr. Moore had been less than forthcoming about how he had rewarded himself financially from his charity. Now the Republican Party is at risk of sending an alleged abuser to the Senate. Now that Mr. McConnell has expressed his view, what will he and other Republicans do about Mr. Moore's apparent determination to press on with his campaign?
It's an important question. For the moment, though, Mr. McConnell deserves credit for treating these accusations with seriousness and the accusers with respect. It is sad that a president who supposedly tells it like it is so far cannot summon the same clarity.
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