So, now we know.
We know that credibility of accusers is less important than political identity of the accused.
We know that the extent of criminality is less important than how the accused criminal votes on matters of key importance. We know that standards don’t apply to our elected officials. That’s the clear and transparent message from elected officials and commentators of both political sides this month.
On the right, the refusal to hold Alabama Senate Republican nominee Roy Moore accountable for highly credible allegations of molestation of underage girls has captured national headlines. And it should: Top members of the party that suggested that Bill Clinton had to leave office thanks to his sexual misconduct are suddenly coy about whether Moore ought to step down.
Make no mistake: He should. His female accusers haven’t just told their stories, they’ve provided verifiable details, and Moore has offered no serious defense other than half-hearted accusations of forgeries and suggestions that he’s never even met the women.
Were the situation reversed, there’s little doubt that Republicans would be calling for Moore’s head.
In fact, the situations are reversed. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), it turns out, was photographed years ago as he apparently groped a woman named Leeann Tweeden as she slept. He also used a rehearsal to allegedly ram his tongue down her throat. Franken, who has sounded off routinely on the evils of sexual harassment, allegedly wasn’t above engaging in some of that himself.
And the same Democrats who have called for Moore to step down are defending Franken — or at least tacitly letting him off the hook. Most Democrats have suggested a Senate ethics committee investigation, the political version of a toothless tiger: From 2007 to 2016, despite 613 matters referred to the committee, zero sanctions have been put in place by that body. There’s a reason Franken himself has called for such an ethics committee investigation.
The defenses for Moore and Franken are identical — they’re both too valuable to their parties to go. Moore’s defenders will sometimes admit, in moments of clarity, that they don’t care about the allegations against him; he’ll be a vote in favor of their priorities. And Franken’s defenders do the same. They say that if Franken goes, that may pave the way for the ouster of other Democratic politicians — and it’s not worth fighting sexual assault and harassment just to turn over the Senate to those Neanderthal Republicans.
On both sides, the only people we’re comfortable condemning are those who are no longer useful to us politically. You haven’t heard any right-wing defenses of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert or former Sen. Larry Craig lately. And on the left, it’s little trouble to admit that Ted Kennedy was evil in his treatment of women — eight years after his death. And it’s no trouble for Democrats to finally come around to the conclusion that Bill Clinton was a cad and a probable sexual assailant — he lost his utility right around the time Hillary Clinton lost her election bid.
Sure, Democrats of the time called Republicans puritanical for suggesting that Clinton had somehow mistreated Monica Lewinsky, and protested deafeningly when Donald Trump brought up Juanita Broaddrick during the 2016 cycle. But now we’re supposed to take them seriously — if they could do it all over again, they would have stood against Bill’s sexual malfeasance.
Are we defending politicians because we believe they’re innocent, or because it’s convenient for us to think they are?
So, what should we, Americans who purportedly care about morality, do? We need to examine our motives. Are we defending politicians because we believe they’re innocent, or because it’s convenient for us to think they are? Are we willing to take a temporary political hit on behalf of a better country — and, yes, better candidates? Or are we so ensconced in the false binary of momentary politics that we’re willing to have a Senate full of alleged child molesters and sexual assaulters?
The answer is probably the latter. If so, let’s be big enough to admit it, instead of using mistreatment of women as a club to beat our enemies, while ignoring it to suit our friends. Otherwise, we’re not just part of the problem — we’re hypocrites, to boot.
Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the conservative podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”