For the span of about a week or two, it appeared as though Senate Republicans had finally found some behavior they were unwilling to defend. It was child molestation. They drew the line at child molestation, and it was a very big deal, from a politics-watching standpoint, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has throughout the Trump administration been absolutely unwilling to weigh in on the dozens of ethical catastrophies of the Trump era. He has been meticulously silent during every scandal, from Constitutional concerns over the president’s private for-profit companies to the continued revelations of Russian government efforts to assist the Trump campaign team.
So when Mitch McConnell finally poked his head out of his shell to opine that Senate Republicans did not want serial sexual predator Roy Moore to be a member of their ranks, it appeared to be a potentially party-defining moment. No matter what crimes members of the Trump administration commit or how much a mockery this or that public official makes of our prior ethical norms, McConnell could not stomach this one. When a Republican candidate for the Senate is accused of multiple women of sexually assaulting them as children and those charges are backed up with confirmation by several dozen of Moore’s own contemporaries that yes indeed, Roy Moore was widely known through his hometown for those behaviors, Sen. Mitch McConnell, at long last, could not stand for that.
It didn’t last. Mitch McConnell is now revising his stance: If the Republicans of Alabama want to put a child molester into the Senate, Mitch McConnell will not speak out against it.
Sen. McConnell had previously called on Moore to drop out of the race after multiple women accused the twice-removed Alabama Chief Justice of making sexual advances on them when they were teenagers. McConnell had previously said that he believed the accusers.
“I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call,” McConnell said on ABC’s This Week. “The ethics committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign should that particular candidate win.”
McConnell had previously demanded Moore withdraw from the race: Now he’s no longer willing to do that. Now he’s no longer willing to lend his own name to the effort to keep a pedophile from attaining high office, but will “let the people of Alabama” decide whether or not the Republican Party ought to embrace a child predator as a valid voice within their ranks.
He attempted to draw the moral line, in his party, at actual child molestation—but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do even that.
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