On Thursday, allegations surfaced in The Washington Post from not one, but four women, who said they had been pursued as teenagers by the Steve Bannon-backed conservative candidate for US Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore.
One of the girls making the allegations says she was 14 — and Moore was 32 — during an encounter in which she says Moore stripped to his white underpants, took off her clothes and touched her through her bra and underpants and led her hand toward his genitals, before she pulled her hand away.
If this sounds familiar, it may be because a similar accusation was made about Kevin Spacey this week by the mother of a then-18-year-old man, who says the actor grabbed his genitals. This followed on another accusation against Spacey from actor Anthony Rapp. (Spacey said he couldn’t remember the incident with Rapp but apologized if it happened. The actor is now seeking unspecified treatment, according to his one-time publicist.)
What was the response from Hollywood? Spacey was fired from not just his award-winning television show, “House of Cards,” ironically about the culture of corruption in Washington, but he was cut from a movie he had already shot — “All the Money in the World” — and replaced with Christopher Plummer. For good reason.
And what was the bold response from the morally superior Republican elites in Washington to accusations that the Senate candidate in Alabama had allegedly sexually assaulted an underage woman? (Moore has denied the accusations.)
The National Republican Senatorial Committee finally decided to end its financial commitment to supporting Moore’s candidacy in a Friday afternoon announcement. But the response from the majority of elected Republican leaders in Washington was a series of mealy-mouthed statements, from President Donald Trump down to both male and female senators condemning the alleged actions but leaving a huge carve-out “if they are proven true.”
So in the case of an actor, the word of the accuser is good, but when it comes to a Senate candidate, the word of four women who come out publicly — on the record — about what happened to them as teenagers is not good enough?
As The Washington Post explained about its bombshell story, neither Leigh Corfman (the then-14-year-old) nor any of the other women — who did not know each other — sought out the newspaper. Reporters unearthed the allegations in the process of earlier reporting on Moore’s Senate campaign and based the new article “on interviews with more than 30 people who said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982,” the paper said.
What more exactly is needed to prove the accusations are true?
The crude political question is what happens now? It could be a slow fade away for Moore now that the NRSC has cut off him off.
But it may not be entirely over. Moore has said he has no plans to leave the race.
Bannon and his grass-roots movement have also remained firmly in Moore’s corner. The former White House chief strategist even blamed The Washington Post report, with its brave statements from the four women, on the Democratic Party.
Much of the leadership within the Alabama Republican Party has also rallied around Moore.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler even compared Moore to Joseph, as in the Mary and Joseph of the Christian Bible, with this eye-popping statement, “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
Never mind that Joseph was not the father of Jesus in the biological sense, and Mary was a virgin. The state auditor of Alabama justified allegations of sexual assault of a minor by referencing the birth of Jesus.
And who is this savior-like character?
Roy Moore is the same guy who was suspended from his role as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for ordering other judges in the state not to abide by the US Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, with the justification, “This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as chief justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda.”
So let me get this straight. It is OK to allegedly pursue underage girls, and, in at least one case, allegedly assault one, but immoral for an adult same-sex couple who love each other to marry.
Moore is a test for the moral compass of the Republican Party. Is it going to push him out of the race and applaud the bravery of four women in Alabama, following the lead of Mitt Romney and John McCain, or is it going to hide behind carefully worded statements out of fear of Steve Bannon and the Trump movement?