The allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, that include sexual involvement with a minor and more recently sexual assault, have increased calls for the embattled judge to drop out of the race.
But as the criticisms continue to intensify, so do the counterarguments of Moore supporters.
Most still defending Moore say that these allegations are suspect due to their timing, and that controversy is little more than a hit job perpetrated by the Washington establishment.
This popular tweet from one Moore supporter contains most of these defenses:
Another defense of Moore, is that even if the candidate did sexually assault women or grope underage girls, it’s still better to have a Republican in that Senate seat than a Democrat. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) basically said this:
These defenses of Moore are shocking to many on the left including many in the Democratic Party. But how different are they, exactly, from how Democrats have defended Bill Clinton against sexual abuse allegations?
For example, how many on the left said that the accusations against Clinton, including rape, were nothing more than a political hit job by the right?
Let’s start with Hillary Clinton, who insisted in 1998 that there was no substance to the accusations made against her president husband, only a “vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against [her] husband since the day he announced for president.”
How many Democrats in the 1990s, similar to Hillary, focused far more on the political intentions of the right than whether or not President Clinton might be guilty of sexual assault?
How many still do? MSNBC’s Chris Hayes mentioned this aspect of the left’s long delayed reckoning in a recent tweet, where he laudably acknowledged that Clinton probably belongs in the same category with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
To the degree that more liberals are willing to consider Bill Clinton’s alleged crimes in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, how much are they also willing to consider that not only did the right have a point about Clinton, the left ignored his allegations precisely because progressives never think conservatives have any legitimate points? That Republicans are never to be believed?
Just like Moore defenders feel about the media, the left and entire political establishment?
A recent piece in the New York Times by Michelle Goldberg, “I Believe Juanita,” is welcome in that it begins to acknowledge Clinton’s alleged crimes from a left perspective, yet the author still tries to put the onus on conservatives.
As David Harsanyi writes at The Federalist:
In The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg spends around 75 percent of her column titled “I Believe Juanita” rationalizing why it was okay not to believe Juanita Broaddrick, who credibly accused Bill Clinton of rape decades ago. You won’t be surprised to learn that Goldberg faults conservatives because their hardball politics and conspiracy-mongering provoked skepticism among liberals — excuses that will be awfully familiar to anyone following the justification of Roy Moore’s supporters.
Indeed. What is the difference between Roy Moore supporters who won’t take these allegations seriously because they don’t take the left seriously, and liberals who did the same thing in regard to the right concerning Bill Clinton’s controversies two decades ago?
And wasn’t much of the left’s defense of Clinton that he was too important a voice for them to denounce the president or even seriously consider his accusations?
In her Atlantic piece on Monday “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning,” Caitlin Flanagan puts this partisan denial dynamic in the proper perspective, focusing on a defense of Clinton by feminist Gloria Steinem:
The notorious 1998 New York Times op-ed by Gloria Steinem must surely stand as one of the most regretted public actions of her life. It slut-shamed, victim-blamed, and age-shamed; it urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused. Moreover (never write an op-ed in a hurry; you’ll accidentally say what you really believe), it characterized contemporary feminism as a weaponized auxiliary of the Democratic Party.Advertisement
“The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton,” Flanagan writes. “The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles.”
The same thing is happening with Republicans at the moment, where those still defending Moore, the supposedly conservative Christian candidate, are making a mockery of the notion that the GOP is in any way the party of “family values.”
Roy Moore’s supporters see the accusations made against him as a hit job, aiming their focus skeptically at the left and mainstream media. Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton’s defenders paid far more attention to the political motives of Republicans than they did the claims of Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey. They thought protecting a prominent Democrat, no matter what, was more important than justice or even basic decency.
That anyone would still defend Roy Moore after multiple women have come forward should outrage everyone, including Democrats. But it should also remind them.