A generation ago a leading criminal defense attorney retained me to test arguments. The defendant — his client — was a California legislator accused of several counts of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.” In California this previously was called statutory rape. My survey probed a sample of voters, drawn from the particular county’s likely juror universe.
As I recount in my book Whiplash! From JFK to Donald Trump, a Political Odyssey, the most persuasive argument was that “the girls waited two years” before coming forward. Each day in the long trial the lawyer reprised what I predicted would be dispositive. After jurors found the accused politician not guilty, reporters asked them why. “The girls waited two years.”
Today we know many reasons why victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault “wait.” The least plausible reason is to upset an election. Roy Moore can attack the Washington Post all he wants. My survey years ago in that case found one argument impotent: that the Los Angeles Times was out to get the defendant.
Moore’s supporters in Alabama are properly skeptical not only of the timing, but that an out-of-state “liberal” newspaper broke the story. Here’s the obvious: these women waited because their stories are now in vogue, so they feel protected. And the Washington Post, like the New York Times which broke the Harvey Weinstein story, has an agenda — selling newspapers. Most of the alleged sexual predators being exposed now are not conservatives, but iconic liberals and leftists. Should I go through the long list?
In a court of law, Moore is innocent until proven guilty. But in the court of public opinion, we judge (though we deny it) without all the facts. There is no jury, because there are no legal charges; for Moore, the statute of limitations expired long ago.
If I were a juror in a legal proceeding, I would indeed set aside my preconceptions. But there is no case, and I have my presumptions, reflecting decades of working closely with politicians. I know when they lie about their education, job history, military service, debts and taxes, marriages, divorces, and family, drinking, drugs, and sex. I won’t tell you all the reasons Roy Moore fits the profile, but here are a few.
First, whether Roy Moore or Luther Strange won the primary, the winner would be, well, strange. Many Christians believe homosexuality is immoral and should be discouraged. I respect their religious sentiments. But few would suggest, as Moore has, that homosexual conduct between consenting adults should be a crime. That’s in Saudi Arabia, not America. Too often those who are “holier than thou” are not. And what they most lack is humility; instead, they have hubris, and that’s why Moore is under a microscope. In effect, he asked for it.
Second, when the story first broke, Mr. Moore predicted his enemies would come out with more smears. This is a typical response of a politician who knows there is more to come. For Moore, it’s an inoculation that won’t work.
Third, Moore was not merely a 32-year-old infatuated with teenage girls he sought to date, hardly a crime, though for him a verified pattern. His interview with Sean Hannity was peculiar. Asked about such dating, he hedged, oddly, “Not generally, no.” At another point, “only with permission of their parents.” Some say that the Post’s accounts of his only kissing his teenage dates is exculpatory, rather than providing a negative context. But those were the dates “with permission.” His credibility is an issue, which brings us to:
Four, the matter is coercion or force, regardless of the age of consent in Alabama. Similarly, the Harvey Weinstein mega-story is not about bad manners or stalking, but alleged sexual assault and rape. Moore’s accusers have corroboration: decades ago, they reported to others what Moore did. They did so contemporaneously or years ago.
Long ago, Mildred Younger, once thought a likely “first woman governor” of California, said to me about sexual harassment, “I don’t understand all this fuss. In my day when a man got fresh, you just slapped him!” We are in age of hysteria, where women don’t slap. They sue. A male now fears whether a compliment is “an unwelcome advance” or “sexual harassment” subject to required Orwellian counseling or worse, the man is fired, and there is litigation. Do you ask a co-worker for a date? What if it doesn’t work out? What if you have sex and don’t call her back? Get a Gloria Allred “app” for consultation before orgasm.
Yes, there is a madness sweeping the land that seems to conflate promiscuity and infidelity, boorishness and coarseness, with coercive sex. We need equilibrium, so we can see less of Gloria, who is, as Moore correctly says, “a sensationalist… around to create a spectacle.”
Beverly Young Nelson, who yesterday accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, erred in colluding with Allred. Nor does their New York venue play well in Alabama. The Moore diehards see conspiracy, again. Yet her story resonates in its details, and Moore’s defenders sound silly (“Why doesn’t anyone recall seeing her leave with Moore?”). It turns out she has told the story, in the past, to others. How untidy for Moore.
Religious people properly frown on gossip, surely fair warning to all of us. A few of the faithful recall, less appropriately, another era, when older men groomed girls. But this is now. Still others say if Moore four decades ago sinned, his fellow Christians should forgive him, especially given his subsequent life which, they say, is exemplary.
Roy Moore will not be a United States Senator.
And it’s not because, as one otherwise brilliant conservative wrote, “14-year-old girls were nubile in those long gone days when our population actually reproduced itself and the vast majority of childbearing was in wedlock and abortion was not a plague.” Another conservative, a convert from Marxism, wrote that Moore probably did force himself on a teenage girl, but electing Moore takes precedence, a short-sighted view, since Moore’s ascension would hurt Republicans nationally. Recall the assorted losers, in more ways than one, like the Senate candidate who said a woman could not get pregnant from a rape; he not only lost, but also hurt the party’s brand nationally.
The reality is that voters, Democrats and Republicans, will opt for their flawed candidate over an opponent of higher character. They won’t admit it. How else could some of these scumbags get elected? Because we (the Democrats or Republicans) can “count on their vote.”
But there are options in Alabama other than electing Doug Jones, whose victory would further erode the precarious majority Republicans hold in the U.S. Senate. It’s only a matter of time before Roy Moore resigns, offering the usual script that he does not want to be a distraction, and Republicans mount a write-in campaign for Jeff Sessions, unless they can postpone the election, or there is some way to appoint Attorney General Sessions to his old Senate seat.
As for the longer term, conservatives need not despair. Karma is on their side. In the old days the sex scandals were primarily with powerful Democrats like Wilbur Mills and Wayne Hayes. But in my one-party state of California, the new policy of “ask and tell” will damage the predators, Democrats who abundantly control Sacramento. And on a national level, the focus will be less on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have a majority of prima donnas, and more on The Culture, which ultimately is more important — television and movies, newspapers and magazines, the universities and foundations — the bastions of secular-progressivism. Roy Moore will be footnote.
Yes, a few conservatives, even prominent, are sexual predators. But most conservatives, no matter how promiscuous or unfaithful, are wired with a libertarian gene. They are philosophically inclined against coercion.
Not so with the Left. From the pretentious NPR to the pernicious Hollywood, the male benefactors of the “women’s movement” will continue to be revealed, in an orgy of self-destructive flagellation. They will fall in disgrace. And that is a good thing.