No Moore

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Two decades ago con­ser­va­tives turned pur­ple with rage over the al­le­ga­tions con­cern­ing Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, Mon­ica Lewin­sky, and other women. Many on the right deemed the pres­i­dent’s scan­dalous be­hav­ior in­tol­er­a­ble, and in­sisted that per­sonal rec­ti­tude was an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity for a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure.

That de­vo­tion to fam­ily val­ues has suf­fered con­sid­er­ably in the Trump era. Con­fronted with Don­ald Trump boast­ing on tape about sex­ual pre­da­tion, many on the right de­cided that such be­hav­ior, while in­ap­pro­pri­ate, was less im­por­tant than par­ti­san pol­i­tics. Win­ning mat­tered more.

A sim­i­lar cal­cu­la­tion has sur­faced in the Roy Moore saga. The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for Se­nate is fa­mous — or no­to­ri­ous, de­pend­ing on your point of view — for his in­sis­tence on dis­play­ing the Ten Com­mand­ments on pub­lic prop­erty and for vil­i­fy­ing those he con­sid­ers sex­ual de­viants. Moore now stands ac­cused of child mo­lesta­tion. As Repub­li­can Sens. Tim Scott and Pat Toomey have both said, the ac­cu­sa­tions are more cred­i­ble than Moore’s de­nials.

Some con­ser­va­tives have de­nounced him or dis­tanced them­selves from him. Oth­ers, how­ever, have turned into lat­ter-day civil lib­er­tar­i­ans — in­sist­ing that Moore de­serves to re­ceive due process, that the al­le­ga­tions con­cern some­thing that hap­pened decades ago, and so on. Alabama’s state au­di­tor even com­pared Moore to the bi­b­li­cal Joseph.

Con­ser­va­tives did not of­fer sim­i­lar de­fenses for Hil­lary Clin­ton’s sup­posed in­volve­ment in hand­ing Amer­i­can ura­nium in­ter­ests over to Rus­sia — or Bill Clin­ton’s al­leged be­hav­ior back in Arkansas. They made no ex­cuses for An­thony Weiner or Bob Me­nen­dez. And it seems highly un­likely con­ser­va­tives would of­fer sim­i­lar ar­gu­ments if Moore were a Demo­crat.

Par­ti­san loy­alty has its place, we sup­pose — but this em­phat­i­cally is not it. Moore needs to with­draw from the race, and his Repub­li­can col­leagues need to make that clear to him.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Roy Moore

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