The sex scandals we read about are all different and require different responses, ranging from letting the voters speak to criminal prosecution.
Except for hysterical stories about President Trump drinking water or feeding fish the wrong way, it seems as if the news is entirely taken over with breaking sex scandals in entertainment and politics. Despite the efforts to conflate them in order to get rid of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, there are very different types of scandals going on here and they call for different responses. I’ve tried to break down the categories.
1. Roy Moore and Donald Trump — Let the People decide. Both Roy Moore and Donald Trump were well-positioned to win elections when they were hit by 11th hour — no, 11th hour and 57th minute — accusations that they had committed sexual improprieties against women. Both men denied doing so. (And yes, it’s true that Trump was caught on tape saying that, if you’re rich, you can grab women, which is no doubt a truism for the rich and powerful. However, he was not heard saying, “I am rich so I, personally, did grab women’s crotches.” So again, Trump, like Moore, has denied the claims against him.) The accusations against both politically-polarizing men, therefore, are “he said/she said” matters.
In the case of both Moore and Trump, it quickly became clear that the women making the allegations were politically opposed to the candidate against whom they asserted wrongdoing. The only exception is one of Moore’s accusers, who contends she is a Republican. Unfortunately for her credibility, her past is drowned in drugs and alcohol and she has a history of accusing men of sexual assault and harassment. That could mean she’s a vulnerable person upon whom men prey, that she’s hanging out with the wrong crowd, or that she’s a liar.)
In the case of both Moore and Trump, when seen in context of the time and place, the alleged behavior is not that outré. Trump was living the lush life in New York during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, when the city was drenched in hyper-sexual behavior. I’m not defending that time — it was a time of loose morals, to say the least — nor am I saying that those who participated in the debauchery have a good excuse for doing so. Nevertheless, if there’s ever a situation in which one can say “everyone was doing it,” the New York scene back then was the time and the place.
Likewise, when it comes to Moore, we’re talking Alabama in the 1970s. Alabama was not New York. Instead, it was probably closer to the 1950s, a time of unprecedentedly high teen pregnancies — high because women married and got pregnant at 16, 17, and 18. If Moore did have a penchant for teens, these girls were considered “of age” and the age difference was not seen as an overwhelming barrier. Again, I’m not saying his behavior was nice or moral; I’m saying it was not illegal and it was also not far from the mid-line of normal for that time and place.
One other aspect of the Moore case that deserves attention is the fact that people have raised credible concerns about the yearbook that Gloria Allred refuses to allow any experts to inspect. Suspicious people have pointed out that the yearbook was signed in December (who signs a yearbook then?); that the handwriting in the note differs from that in the signature; that the year 1977 is written twice, which is itself unusual, and that it is written in two different hands; and that the signature, which the initials DA appended, is the not the way Moore signed things but is, instead, the way Moore’s clerk signed his name when he presided over the divorce of the woman now accusing him. That is, she wrote his name along with her initials to show that she was authorized to sign on his behalf. Lastly, considering what an incredibly contentious career Moore has had, Alabama voters may wonder why these long-standing claims against him are emerging for the first time only when it’s too late to get another Republican on the ballot. Hmmm. [Read more…]