In an infamously bloody scene in The Untouchables (1987), Robert De Niro declared, “I get nowhere unless the team wins.” Three decades later, De Niro’s line is, in effect, Donald Trump’s motto–and if that motto is shared by a majority of the Alabama electorate, then Roy Moore is guaranteed to win the state’s special US Senate election tomorrow night.
Doug Jones, Moore’s Democratic opponent, should be considered an odds-on favorite…to win the 2018 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, that is. Jones deserves credit for waging a vigorous campaign, making the case for a less cynical vision in the face of relentless hatred from a president and political movement that seeks to define him as a left-wing zealot who wishes to sacrifice unborn children on the altar of the Church of Pelosi. However, who will really be shocked if his efforts turn out not to be enough?
If Jones fails, it will be because right-wing voters–including right-wing women–have convinced themselves that Moore’s alleged lust is less than loathsome:
Patricia Brady remembers being in an elevator 50 years ago at her office building near Mobile.
She was a young woman in her 20s, a graphic designer. A salesman stopped by her office with a product she’d been seeking — she can’t now recall what it was — but she remembers being so excited to get it. And then so terrified.
The salesman, she said, must have misread her enthusiasm for something else, and tried to grope her in the elevator on the way out. “I just said: ‘Whoa, whoa, what are you doing?’ ”
All these years later, the episode still bothers her. “It sticks with you,” said Brady, 74.
But it hasn’t changed her politics. Brady is going to vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday, joining with the 39 percent of women who are, according to polls, standing with the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama despite allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers, including one who was 14.
These female Moore supporters have had the same #MeToo moments that, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll, nearly half of all US women have experienced and are now rehashing the episodes in conversations with co-workers and girlfriends.
But many here are drawing a line of tolerance that favors Moore, viewing the allegations against luminaries like movie titan Harvey Weinstein and NBC star Matt Lauer as far worse than Moore’s alleged trawling for teenage girls in his hometown of Gadsden, Ala., when he was in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations against him.
Call it a collective forgiveness, or a tendency to protect your own tribe. But many women supporting Moore excuse the Senate hopeful’s behavior as more a boorish phase in his past than predatory, if they believe the allegations at all. They are offering him the benefit of the doubt, and it could well be enough to hand him a seat in the US Senate in a special election race Tuesday against Democrat Doug Jones that polls show is close.
Speaking of a “tendency to protect your own tribe,” you may recall that I dismissed the argument that the first allegation of sexual impropriety against soon-to-be-former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was part of a right-wing setup. Let’s assume arguendo that I was wrong–that Leeann Tweeden and Roger Stone cooked up a plan to smear Franken as a would-be pervert. If the goal of that strategy was to get some progressives to do unto Tweeden as some right-wingers have done unto Moore’s accusers–to make it look like whether one believes allegations of sexual harassment and/or assault all depends on whose ox is being gored–then based on the aggressive personal attacks on Tweeden in certain progressive circles, it would appear that such a plan was successful beyond Tweeden and Stone’s wildest dreams. Franken’s most vigorous defenders–the ones who are absolutely convinced that Franken can do no wrong, and that claims to the contrary were concocted by conservatives–are effectively doing the same thing that the pro-Moore types who see a “liberal media conspiracy” are doing. If proving that liberals and conservatives are equally susceptible to dismissing claims of bad behavior on the part of ideological allies was indeed Tweeden and Stone’s goal, then mission accomplished. (Remember, right-wingers have always believed that progressives embraced Anita Hill’s allegations against Clarence Thomas only because Thomas was himself a right-winger–that if Thomas had been ideologically aligned with Thurgood Marshall, then progressives would have rejected the veracity of the allegations against Marshall’s replacement. The right is forever trying to prove that progressives are hypocrites; that was very likely the main goal of a hypothetical Stone-Tweeden setup.)
If Moore wins, I just hope there’s no hand-wringing from cable news pundits about how his victory represents a new low in Alabama politics; it’s hard to get any lower than sending Jeff Sessions to the US Senate a full decade after his nomination to the federal bench was rejected due to his bigotry. Yes, some Americans would like to believe that a majority of Alabama voters will think twice before sending an alleged predator of underage girls to the US Senate simply because he’s a Republican. If you’re one of the folks who thinks Alabama voters will reject Roy Moore in the name of common decency, ask yourself: would you bet money on such an outcome?