Even before the ink on the Constitution was dry, men in power have taken advantage of women. For the most part, those activities were pretty much relegated to the scandal sheets of their times, but in today’s wired world, accusations of sexual improprieties spread at the speed of light.
Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes in the White House and his subsequent lying about them led to his impeachment. A number of his critics, notably Republican Sen. Henry Hyde and Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, condemned Clinton while busily denying their own extramarital affairs. Democrat John Edwards’ affair removed him from consideration as Barack Obama’s vice-presidential nominee. In 2011, Congressman Anthony Weiner tweeted lewd selfies to women, at the cost of his congressional seat and, ultimately, his marriage. In 2015, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was convicted of illegally structuring bank withdrawals to conceal paying hush money to one of the men he had abused when the man was a teen and Hastert was a high school wrestling coach.
Sex makes hypocrites out of better men than pro-life Congressman Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican. This past October, when he thought the woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair might have been pregnant, his public principles headed south as he told her to have an abortion.
Sexual domination cuts across racial, political and even religious affiliations. It isn’t just in government where powerful men take advantage of their positions to intimidate, pressure, harass or sexually abuse women — or men, for that matter. Since the beginning of October, when movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s outrageous conduct became widely known, the floodgates have opened, with at least 20 prominent men, among them actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Louis CK, newsmen Mark Halperin and Michael Oreskes, and politicians Jeff Hoover and Roy Moore having been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct.
Moore is the Alabama Republican Party’s nominee to replace Jeff Sessions in the United States Senate. Twice, he was elected to and removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for failure to obey judicial rulings that his display of the Ten Commandments violate the U.S. Constitution, that his rulings were not impartial, and for abuse of authority. Moore’s conduct plainly revealed a person who puts his desires and personal beliefs above the law he swore to uphold. One of his former colleagues went on record saying that when Moore was in his 30s, “it was common knowledge that he dated high school girls. Everyone we knew thought it was weird.” Moore himself admitted to knowing his accusers, and one of them was known to be “dating” an older man, later revealed to be Moore. In the few days since the The Washington Post published its news about Moore, three other women came forward, saying that when they were between 16 and 18 years old, he pursued them.
He calls these accusations groundless, fake news and says his political opponents put these women up to making false claims against him. The Washington Post provided strong corroboration for at least one of the women’s claims. Opposition to him is strong among Republicans outside of Alabama. Mitt Romney said, “Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.” Sen. John McCain also called for Moore to quit the race. Being a Republican governor in a blue state and thinking about 2018, Maryland’s Larry Hogan also distanced himself from Moore. Others qualified their support, saying if it’s shown that he did what he’s accused of, he should get out of the race. Moore has sworn he will stay in, no matter what.
Were he to lose the runoff election to Democrat Doug Jones, the Republican Senate majority would be cut to 51 seats, putting President Trump’s shaky agenda at even greater risk. Even more important for the country is the question of whether to elect, and if elected, to seat a person whose respect for the law is as severely compromised as Moore’s. Several Republican senators were very uncomfortable discussing the specter of having to defend a Senator Moore. Adding Roy Moore to Trump’s sinking poll numbers could be the final straw for a public completely fed up with the Republicans’ inability to govern.
Meanwhile, the battle for just plain old common sense and respect continues. People, mostly women, are more than fed up with being the victims of sexual predators. Society is changing. We’ve made progress toward respect for others’ rights, but as far as we’ve come, we still have much more ground to cover. What are we waiting for?