The Roy Moore scandal makes me sick. Like physically ill, which is surprising, because I’m normally pretty much inured to most things. What nauseates me more is watching people defend Moore, or otherwise express backhanded support for him, such as Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has. Ivey has publicly declared that she believes the women who have accused Moore of misconduct. She also is in power because the previous governor, Robert Bentley, was forced to resign due to his own sex scandal. But Ivey is going to vote for Moore because he’s the GOP candidate. Others have defended Moore by suggesting that older men and underage girls is a Southern thing. I wish I was making that up.
Yet this week, I have come across two things about Moore that depress me even more. I lived in Alabama for a while a few years ago. I know Alabamians are not what their national reputations says they are. I also know that there is far more going on in Alabama than corrupt politicians and ‘Bama football. And yet… Alabama keeps getting itself into the national news for all the wrong reasons.
First, President Trump’s counsel, Kellyanne Conway said that nothing is more important than ensuring the passage of the GOP tax bill (you know the one, it takes away the deduction for student loans, but includes them for private school tuition, as well as for the purchase of private airplanes). Thus, she told Fox News, Alabama needs to elect Moore. Last week, she said that “no Senate seat is worth more than a child. By the end of the day on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to comment on Moore, but noted that the President wants allies in Congress. Yes. Conway and Sanders are saying that taxes are more important than allegations of sexual and child abuse against the GOP candidate in Alabama. I don’t know how they sleep at night. And then Tuesday night, President Trump stated that Moore is alright because he ‘totally denies’ the allegations.
And then I came across this article in The Daily Beast. In it, Matt Lewis, a senior columnist there and CNN commentator, argues that many people in Alabama are appalled by Moore, but they cannot vote for his opponent, the Democrat Doug Jones. Why? Because he supports a woman’s right to choose. Lewis’ main point is that the Democratic Party is missing a wonderful chance to move into the space that the GOP has abandoned in its hard-right shift into immorality. Moore, of course, does not support a woman’s right to choose.
Let this one sink in for a second: Lewis is arguing that many conservatives in Alabama cannot and will not vote for Doug Jones because of his position on abortion. So they will vote for a man who has allegedly sexually abused a child. (Leigh Corfman was 14 in 1979, at the time of the alleged sexual assault). I certainly understand the moral conundrum here, being forced to choose between someone who supports abortion and someone who has allegedly sexually assaulted a child. And several Republicans I know in Alabama are voting for a write-in candidate as a means of escaping this conundrum. But, what of the people who vote for Moore? How do they square their concern with the lives of children? How do they square their moral compass?