It’s starting to get really creepy — even Judge Roy Moore’s defenders are going to have to admit that.
First, The Washington Post reported that the Republican Senate nominee from Alabama asked 16- and 17-year-old girls on dates when he was in his thirties (but only when their mothers approved, he says). Apparently, such age gaps weren’t rare in the South at the time. But now, multiple sources say so many high schoolers complained he hit on them that the local mall had to ban him, permanently. And yesterday, a new accuser disclosed that when she was 16, Moore asked to sign her high school yearbook — and assaulted her a few days later.
The new information exemplifies a problem with Judge Moore’s candidacy: the man doggedly pursues his own desires without regard to social norms. He delights in breaking everyone else’s rules in a way that strokes his own ego — and he’s not all that concerned about any collateral damage.
Roy Moore is a clear and present danger to the reputation of the Republican Party, the effective functioning of the United States Senate, and the political health of the nation. If he is seated as a lawmaker, he’ll continue his pestering, but the victims will be the whole country, well beyond some small-town cheerleaders and glee club members.
A man who solicits teenage girls so many times he’s banned from a mall isn’t likely to submit to any legal authority. As Alabama’s Chief Justice, Moore was known for various stunts, such as disobeying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he commissioned for the state judicial building and thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling by trying to defang it statewide.
As a United States Senator, which rules will Moore break? The Senate is a storied institution with hallowed traditions, many of which operate by mutual consent. A politician beholden only to his own lusts (whether for power, popularity or self-righteousness) can hold Congress hostage, as we saw with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2013 government shutdown. Roy Moore will be a dozen whack-a-mole Ted Cruzes, delighting in undermining the operation of the Senate.
And the shenanigans won’t end there. Roy Moore will be a leprechaun for the Republican Party, making statements and proposing legislation designed only to troll the party (and the country). Think about comments he has uttered in the past which any normally ambitious politician would have to repudiate. Moore, by contrast, happily carries these around with him:
1. America could “very well” be the focus of evil in the world because it “promotes a lot of bad things”;
2. Being gay is “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God”;
3. The military should not allow mosques and Muslim clergy;
4. Preschool is a liberal conspiracy that hurts kids;
5. A Hindu should not be allowedto lead an opening prayer in the Senate;
6. “Homosexual conduct” should be against the law;
7. Under “common sense” an elected Muslim lawmaker should not be seated in Congress; and
8. It is “against the law” to refuse to stand for the national anthem.
Upon his election, every time Moore makes one of these statements, Nancy Pelosi will do a little dance, knowing that her party can then force every Republican in the country to respond.
Moore’s GOP defenders frequently justify the encounters with teenagers as legally excusable — because most of his accusers are over the age of consent, or that it was only a misdemeanor. But it’s usually liberals who conflate legality and morality. Conservatives should know better. Lots of things that are legal are unacceptable and, in fact, should disqualify a person from public office.
Moore’s GOP detractors have been very careful to object only to Moore’s alleged behavior, saying a man who pursued teenagers is not fit for office. They should go ahead and say what many of them have doubtless thought for months: Roy Moore would be unfit for office even if his sexual behavior was immaculate.
Moore’s decades-old conduct is disturbing on its own, of course. Even scarier is the prospect he’ll revert to his old devices, badgering the nation as he did to the girls at the Gadsden Mall in the early 1980s.
Washington doesn’t need another creep.