Many of the responses to The Washington Post's report alleging that Judge Roy Moore, the clownish Alabama reactionary who, until a few days ago, was almost certainly going to be elected a senator in December, once sexually assaulted a teenager and harassed several others, have been wrongheaded or idiotic. Typical was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who opined that "if these allegations are true, he must step aside." (Is McConnell a subscriber to Hugh Everett's "many worlds" hypothesis, I wonder?) Other responses require the use of an adjective with which few of us are familiar or comfortable these days: blasphemous.
What other word is suitable for the opinion of Jim Ziegler, the Alabama state auditor who dismissed the allegations as "nonsense" before invoking Holy Writ? "Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist," said Ziegler. "Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."
St. Joseph, the chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin, did not have marital relations with his wife before or after the birth of Our Lord. To pretend that there is some sort of meaningful similarity between his faithful protection of Mary and the infant Christ during the Holy Family's flight to Egypt and a cowboy hat-wearing Southern lawyer's luring a 14-year-old girl met outside a courthouse to his trailer, removing her clothes, and groping her is emetic. For an atheist to suggest as much would be disrespectful and moronic; for a Christian it is inexcusable.
Worse yet was Jerry Moore, who compared his brother's "persecution" at the hands of a group of powerless women to the tribulations undergone by Christ Himself. The sentiment is so disgusting that it is almost impossible to respond except by pointing out that even if this very solid piece of reporting were, in fact, a Southern Gothic fantasy concocted by multiple, albeit independent hands, it is a privilege for Christians to unite themselves to their Lord by imitating his example of suffering. Brother Roy ain't like Jesus, Jerry.
Others who have called for Moore to end his campaign have not exactly covered themselves in glory, even if they have avoided besmirching the names of saints. For the editors of National Review, it would seem to be worth pointing out that a 30-something man haunting the Santa booth of a shopping mall in search of pizza-and-wine dates with eligible teenaged elf-helpers is "not criminal," merely "gross." A further salient point raised by the same unsigned opinion piece is that Moore's "vulnerabilities are now endangering what should be a completely safe Senate seat." It is clear that he is "not a worthy standard-bearer for the Republican Party," which is why he should be a good egg and "spare his party the exertions of defending him." Do it for the team, hoss, so 'Bama can stay red.
But perhaps the most remarkable response of all was Moore's own. To call the initial statement issued by his campaign pathetic would be false except in the sense that anyone who takes it seriously is indeed worthy of our pity. It was, literally speaking, incredible, as in not even remotely capable of inspiring belief. After pointing out that the Post has endorsed his opponent, Moore accused the paper of engaging in a partisan smear campaign. Then he threatened to sue the paper. What he didn't tell us was which of the claims made in this painstakingly reported piece he considers false. Was he suggesting that he has never made the acquaintance of any of the four women in question? Or were his remarks limited only to a denial of the seemingly clear-cut instance of criminal sexual misconduct? If so, what exactly was untrue? Was he saying that he only took the 14-year-old Leigh Corfman back to his mobile home but did not remove her clothing or his, that they instead played Scrabble or held an impromptu Bible study?
The campaign's statement concluded with the assertion that the Post's reporting must be false because otherwise Moore would not have gotten this far in political life. "After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now." The implication seems to be that the same newspapers that so despise Moore that they have now found four women willing to invent lurid stories about him were in decades past doing their work very diligently. It is, among other things, an astonishing confession of faith in the competence of our free and independent media and the integrity of our election system. Even Moore, the brash, fearless defender of faith who elevates God's law above patriotism, will, if pressed hard enough, fall back at last on proceduralism, the last refuge of the 21st century scoundrel.
It took another 24 hours or so for Moore to clear the air on Sean Hannity's radio program. In an interview with the Fox News host, Moore denied that he had ever met Corfman. He further avowed that he while he had known Debbie Wesson Gibson and her parents, he did not remember dating her. He admitted that he had gone on dates with Gloria Thacker Deason but denied that he had ever served her alcoholic beverages while she was underage, adding that these encounters took place when she was "19 or older," which is a curious memory in that it is vague but conveniently specific enough on the crucial point. He also added that Deason was "a good girl." Asked broadly whether he remembered dating girls in this age range, he replied, "Not generally, no." What kind of work is that adverb doing? A thorough analysis of the half-acknowledgements, qualifiers, and bizarre appeals to his contemporaneous relationships with some of the accusers' parents is beyond the purview of a short column.
During the broadcast his campaign released another statement to reporters. "It seems," Moore said in the press release, "that in the political arena, to say that something is not true is simply not good enough." You don't say. Astonishingly, it isn't good enough in the legal or any other "arena" either. Nor, as Moore surely knows, does it matter from the perspective of eternity.
If Moore believes any of the things to which he has seemingly devoted his career as a judge and a politician, he will speak honestly and forthrightly about all the allegations. This is not a call for soul searching or discernment. The truth is already known to him, to the women involved, and to God. As Christ says in St. Luke's Gospel: "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."
Lying might win Moore a Senate seat. It would also lead to his damnation.