By Jackson Richman
On Monday, President Donald Trump endorsed embattled Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by numerous women of sexual abuse. Consequentially, the Republican National Committee, whose chairman, Ronna Romney McDaniel, called for Moore to step aside, resumed funding Moore’s campaign after suspending support two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) announced he would not seek a 29th term amid sexual harassment allegations.
Despite members of Congress, like Colorado senator and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Cory Gardner, condemning such allegations regardless of partisan affiliation, leadership and other politicians on both the Democratic and Republican caucus have been inept.
On the Republican side, initially calling for Moore to step aside, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walked back last Sunday his call for the former and twice-kicked-out Alabama Supreme Court chief justice to quit the race.
“The people of Alabama are going to decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. It’s really up to them,” McConnell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“It’s been a pretty robust campaign with a lot of people weighing in. The president and I of course supported somebody different earlier in the process,” he added. “But in the end the voters of Alabama will make their choice.”
House speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), while he has said that the accusations against Moore are “credible,” has not gone further in condemning Moore, such as calling for him to be expelled from the Senate if elected, only to say he should step aside from the race.
“I’m focused on Congress,” Ryan told National Public Radio last Friday. “Roy Moore is trying to come to Congress. My job here as Speaker of the House is to help make sure that Congress is an institution that we’re proud of and that’s what I’m focused on. He’s running for Congress and I think the allegations against him were very, very credible.”
While Al Franken, accused of groping and sexually abusing women, is under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, concrete action, such as Senate expulsion, being taken as a result of the investigations’ findings is doubtful. (McConnell pledged an Ethics investigation of Moore were he to win the December 12 election.)
Additionally, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) provided a startling and disturbing analysis last week as to whether Moore and Franken should be expelled from the Senate. Regarding Moore, “Of course not … we’ve got to respect the will of the voters,” Cruz said.
However, regarding Franken, “These allegations are serious, and they keep coming up every day,” Cruz said to Fox News’s Neil Cavuto. “And I will say there’s a rich irony watching all the Democrats backpedaling and trying to justify now their colleague.”
“That’s a serious, serious problem and I think it’s something we’re going to see debated quite a bit more.”
No, Senator Cruz. What is a “rich irony” and a “serious, serious problem” is watching both Democrats and Republicans backpedaling and justifying their side.
Which underscores part of what is wrong with Washington and politics overall: One side holds the other side, but not also their own, accountable.
There is a word to define Cruz’s sentiment and the ongoing actions or silence of other politicians. It is called hypocrisy.
Which, like sexual harassment, is immoral in it of itself.
The Weekly Standard‘s Ethan Epstein wrote that Cruz’s stance is an “odd one, given that one of Cruz’s favorite poses is that of the righteous moral crusader.”
“And it’s kind of telling that he didn’t even nod to the seriousness of the charges against Moore in his answer,” Epstein added.
On the Democratic side, the party has defended the accusations against its members of Congress.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” last week, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to condemn Conyers. “John Conyers is an icon in our country,” Pelosi said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He’s done a great deal to protect women in the Violence Against Women Act, which the right wing is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that. He will do the right thing in terms of what he knows about his situation. He is entitled to due process and the women are entitled to due process as well. I believe he understands what is at stake here and he will do the right thing.”
Just because Conyers supported legislation like the Violence Against Women Act, that does not mean he is immune in which such a suggestion like Pelosi’s is a facade. Suggesting otherwise is essentially no different than saying that Al Capone was not that bad of a person because he operated a soup kitchen during the Great Depression.
Only last week did Pelosi, along with other Democratic leadership members, call for Conyers’s resignation.
Ironically, Pelosi almost immediately called for Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) to resign last Saturday following an accusation he sexually harassed a former aide who had worked on his election campaign.
Regarding the allegations against Franken, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), aside from calling for the Ethics Committee investigation of Franken, has remained silent on the issue.
Political pundits such as Weekly Standard founding editor Bill Kristol and contributing writer Bethany Mandel have rhetorically asked about an alternative party that does not tolerate sexual harassment.
(Disclosure: I interned at The Weekly Standard in 2015 and am forever grateful for that opportunity.)
“Where does one go if you think that Ted Kennedy was a murdering piece of shit and also that Roy Moore is like your pervy crazy racist unnamed family member while drunk,” Mandel rhetorically asked on Twitter. “Is there an ideological home for people like me?”
Moreover, where was this blanket sentiment in 2012 when Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin, who said women who are victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant? Or in 2011 when Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was exposed in a sexting scandal?
Of course, the list of examples is endless.
Famous psychologist Rollo May said that “the opposite of the courage in our society isn’t cowardice, it’s conformity.” While it is admirable that people like Kristol and Mandel have put their foot down, it is astonishing their attitude was not used by all to brush both parties years ago.
Unfortunately, Republicans and Democrats have exemplified May’s wise quote. Their stains can only come off if both parties suddenly condemn sexual harassment and other innuendo consistently not just against their opponents but among themselves. Until then, their parties are to be brushed with losing their morality.