by Henry Oliner
Republicans and Alabamans are being judged because they are looking past Roy Moore’s moral and ethical transgressions to maintain their party’s political power. Where would they ever get such an idea?
If Moore wins or loses the seat, it comes up for election in only a year. This race is only to fill the vacancy of Sessions. Seems a lot of effort and agonizing for a short term.
The litany of sexual abuse allegations may bring character back into mode. That would be a good thing. But I am concerned that the use of mere allegations to gather political scalps without due process will encourage abuse.
The second concern is that the definition of sexual misconduct now occupies a very gray area. It is no longer limited to physical acts. Inappropriate language, insinuations, tone and assumptions can signal abuse in the minds of the victims. A blue joke told in a public setting can be just an obnoxious display. In a private setting it can signal potential abuse.
The fear of accusation can have negative implications for women as male bosses avoid women employees because of sensitivity and liability.
I viewed the HBO show, Confirmation, on the Anita Hill testimony on the Clarence Thomas hearing. It may have been a biased, but it showed the difficulty of the new gray areas. Are men to be held accountable for every comment or flirtatious act they have committed? Can any comment that makes a woman uncomfortable be considered a threat to her career? When does boorish behavior become a threat? Should this determine who remains in office or on the court? It was interesting to note how the Anita Hill hearings triggered an increase in the number of women who ran for and got elected to Congress.
Yet these same women did not hold Bill Clinton to a similar standard.
What you tolerate, you teach. Democrats have no moral authority to hold Moore and Trump accountable to behavior they have long tolerated, but I would much prefer that their opposition not join them in the gutter they dug.
It remains to be seen whether this is a moral and cultural reckoning and improvement or just another compromise made to retain political power.