Controversial Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore at a Texas Capitol rally on March 24, 2015.
Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis/Getty

Roy Moore’s allies come up with woefully inadequate defenses

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/9/17, 10:58 PM ET

Moore scandal extends tumultuous streak in Alabama politics

Rachel Maddow reviews the long string of sex and corruption scandals that have roiled Alabama politics, a streak now extended by The Washington Post’s reporting on women who accuse Roy Moore of engaging inappropriately with them when they were underage.
Alabama’s Roy Moore, the Republican Party’s radical U.S. Senate nominee, is now facing allegations that he molested a 14-year-old girl, whom he tried to date when he was in his 30s, in addition to pursuing relationships with other teenagers. Moore, a former judge twice removed from the bench for judicial misconduct, denies the allegations.

His allies, however, are scrambling to come up with a persuasive response to the claims – and so far, it’s not going especially well.

The standard line from most Republicans is that Moore should quit “if the allegations are true.” The problem with this is that it’s predicated on the assumption that the on-the-record accusers, the contemporaneous accounts, and the Washington Post’s 30 sources are all suspect.

Other Moore allies have argued that the encounters were “consensual,” and therefore acceptable – as if a 32-year-old man can legally molest a 14-year-old girl if she approves.

Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), meanwhile, has been the most creative of Moore’s cheerleaders, initially saying the allegations are “much ado about very little,” even if they’re completely accurate. Eventually, however, after a variety of other bizarre defenses, Zeigler came up with this:

“Take the Bible – Zachariah and Elizabeth, for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler says, choosing his words carefully before invoking Christ. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Yes, when Roy Moore was confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct, one his allies thought it’d be a good idea to throw a Hail Mary – in a nearly literal sense.

The Washington Post’s fact-check on this was compelling:

First, there are issues with Zeigler’s Bible references. Both Zachariah and Elizabeth were elderly when John the Baptist was born; it wasn’t that she was young and Zachariah was “extremely old.”

Second, comparing modern age-of-consent laws to biblical times seems to be a slippery slope. Many things from 2,000 years ago don’t apply today. Girls were often betrothed early in their teenage years, for example.

And third, there is something called the virgin birth.

The one defense Moore’s allies haven’t rolled out is the one that’s true: Republicans want a Republican in that Senate seat in order to protect the party’s agenda, with tax breaks for the wealthy at the top of the list. If that means electing an alleged child molester, so be it. If Moore has an “R” after his name, nothing else matters.

Alabama and Scandals

Roy Moore's allies come up with woefully inadequate defenses