The country has reached a real tipping point, and I fear there may be no going back. There was a time when war heroes and Gold Star parents were respected, when pedophiles were considered criminal, when our intelligence agencies were relied upon and believed, when we could depend on bureaucrats in Washington to protect our air and water, and when the media and investigative reporting were accepted as sources of dependable facts. But no longer. We are a nation whose core values and safety are under siege, and too many of us prefer to ignore it.
There is no better proof than the tawdry Roy Moore story. Despite the testimony of the victim who has accused Moore of engaging in sexually predatory behavior with her — when she was 14 and he was 32 and an assistant district attorney, no less — many Republicans still support him. They claim that hers is a mere allegation until proven true, as if there was a way to time-travel back to do a DNA test or convene a grand jury. As often happens in crimes against women, the victim is being blamed. Moore purports that she is participating in a Democratic hatchet job, regardless of her Republican Party affiliation, her 2016 vote for Trump and the supporting reports from other teen-aged women that Moore once tried to date them, plying one with cheap wine. This behavior was once condemned as pedophilia, but Alabama Bible Belt voters want to cut Moore some slack so that the GOP can hold onto a senate seat.
Such a perverted moral code didn’t come into play when Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, sent graphic texts and photos to under-aged women and when Congressman Christopher Lee, a Republican, emailed a bare-chested photo of himself to a woman not his wife. When outed, both men stepped down, but that was then and this is now.
What’s changed? Perhaps having a known sexual predator in the Oval Office is to blame. One is reminded of the 15 women who came forward before the election and accused Trump of sexual assault, molestation and groping. He denied the charges, called them liars and threatened lawsuits, though tellingly none have been filed. Then there’s the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape in which he admitted to abusive behavior. Too many voters chose to look the other way and award him the biggest prize in American politics. Tribal support and expedience trumped decency.
I also must fault the Clintons for establishing a precedent with their “bimbo eruptions” when Bill was running for president. Three women accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape, but his staff discredited them, calling one “trailer trash.” We’ve been on a downward slope since, but boasting about groping women and condoning pedophilia have staked out a new low.
Veterans and military service were once considered sacrosanct. However, the new “Mad Hatter” brand of politics has been weaponized to malign war heroes like Sen. John McCain while elevating a five-time draft dodger to the White House. This disrespect had its roots in the now discredited swiftboating of Sen. John Kerry (Bronze Star, Silver Star, three Purple Hearts) by the GOP during the 2004 presidential election.
Presidents were once expected to evince proof of their religious faith and family values, but Trump’s immoral life (a consistent pattern of lying, dishonest business practices, three marriages, braggadocio about sexual exploits) and avoidance of church services were endorsed at the ballot box and continue to be abided by the religious right. What price a seat on the Supreme Court? Is the 11th commandment “Thou shalt hate the sin but empower the sinner?”
This country has spent almost 50 years establishing new and necessary standards for clean water and air. We now have Trump overseeing the dismantling of the EPA by a climate change-denying cabinet secretary. Since January, long-standing protections have been rescinded and reversed in the name of unshackling big business, as if we didn’t remember the polluted skies and waterways of yesterday, the devastated wildlife of “Silent Spring,” and the toxic Superfund sites still with us.
Then there’s the assault on truth. With this administration, all inconvenient facts become fake news and the press is the “enemy of the American people.” This past weekend Trump disingenuously asserted his faith in Putin’s claim of non-involvement in the election, despite the findings of the 17-agency intelligence community, news reports of multiple meetings between Russians and Trump’s campaign staff, Donald Trump Jr.’s tweeting a link to a cache of Russian-hacked Democratic Party emails sent to him by WikiLeaks, and verified evidence of Facebook and Twitter messaging originating in the Kremlin.
Latest Carroll County Times Opinion
In an October Fox News poll, 57 percent of registered voters disapproved of Trump’s performance. This mediocre number was buoyed by an approval rate among Republicans of 83 percent. This “party over country” mentality today has sown the seeds for a meager and bitter harvest tomorrow.