This week, Republican candidate in the special election for Alabama’s Senate seat, Roy Moore — whose seminal moment during the primary came when he waved a pistol around while on stage at an event — was accused of further acts of sexual impropriety. The number of women who have come forward, as of this writing, stands at eight at least, though “women” might be a bit of a misnomer; the allegations surround incidents between a Roy Moore in his 30s and teenage girls as young as 14.
Moore denies the allegations and the polls in Alabama show a dead heat.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said “I think he should step aside,” and “He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate,” as well as proclaimed, “It’s safe to say that if he were to be sworn in, he would immediately be in a process before the Senate Ethics Committee.”
On the other hand, the President has stayed mostly quiet, expressing through White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next Senator will be.”
For clarity, and those not totally familiar with the story, here is a “best of” Roy Moore, before the allegations.
On Muslim member of Congress, Keith Ellison:
On government and the rule of law:
On 9/11 as the wrath of God:
“If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25, ‘there should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.’ You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”
On “homosexuality” and LGBT rights:
As an amateur poet:
This gem of a man is now also an alleged sexual predator and pedophile.
Moore, for his part, insists himself to be the victim of a vast conspiracy enacted by his political opponents, The Washington Post, and some sort of shadowy east coast elite in order to ruin a good man. It would be a delicious conspiracy if true. Except it would require the “good man” in the story to be a creeper who was banned from his local mall for harassing underage girls.
The most interesting turn of the week regarded this supposed conspiracy. A robocall began circulating in Alabama which said:
“Hi, this is Lenny Bernstein. I’m a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims; however, we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.”
Spoiler alert: This call was not actually The Washington Post.
The name of the “reporter,” his nasally voice, and his forced New York accent made the anti-semitism in the message quite clear.
Dear Roy Moore supporter. Roy Moore is a good ol’ boy and the only people who don’t want him elected are a bunch of Jews. Vote Roy Moore.
A quote from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
“A Jewish journalist part of a media conspiracy? The only worse stereotype would be a family values, southern evangelical who turns out to be a secret perv.”
It is a hilarious line, but one with the effect of revealing a political system which has become a caricature.
Of course, it is much more than family values secret perv Roy Moore.
At the same time as the allegations against Moore were coming to light, Democratic Senator Al Franken was being accused of sexual harassment by a radio news anchor who wrote:
“You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed.”
Elsewhere, CNN spoke with over 50 female members of Congress, aides, and other staff, all of whom said they had experienced sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. The report detailed a “Creep list,” an informal roster of men to avoid “in elevators, late-night meetings or events where alcohol is flowing.”
Somehow it doesn’t seem as funny as it does on Netflix.
If we wanted to go further, we could talk about the recent Virginia Gubernatorial race, in which both candidates were criticized for racist campaign ads.
Or we could talk about the recent New Jersey Gubernatorial race, won by a Goldman Sachs banker.
Obviously, and unfortunately, I could go on, but the point will remain the same. If the idea of democracy is to elevate the best of us to positions of leadership, well … look around.
The “best of” the Roy Moore story is perhaps his making this problem as obvious as ever.