Thursday, November 30, 2017

No Bar To Election

Vox's Jen Kirby notes that the most recent polls in the Alabama Senate race are far more favorable to Roy Moore than ones previously taken and postulates

Several factors might be sending voters back to Moore. The flurry of allegations that followed the Washington Post story, including a woman who said Moore groped her when she was 14 and he was 32 — have died down, and no new allegations have emerged since around November 15.

Moore also laid low for a little more than a week; until Monday night, the candidate hadn’t hosted a public event in 11 days.

President Donald Trump also broke his silence on the Moore situation before Thanksgiving, saying Moore “totally denied” the allegations. He has continued to bash the Democrat in the race, firing off on Twitter that Jones “would be a disaster.”

I hope she was chuckling, or at least hesitating, when whe wrote "several factors might be sending voters back to Moore." We cannot assume voters are returning to Moore when they might have been there all along. They merely might not have been keen on ostensibly telling pollsters- when the report about Moore was the hottest topic- "I'm with the perverted child predator."

Whether Moore is- or was- perverted or a child predator is not the determinative factor.  He has been portrayed in several quarters as just that and even though most Moore supporters likely view the source as the "liberal media," they did not want to be seen associating themselves with such a guy while the news was so prominent.

The other alternative to Kirby's unrealistic assumption is that voters have come back to Moore- but not for the reasons she cites. By one count, since the charges against Harvey Weinstein emerged, allegations have appeared against two men in sports, nine in politics, 15 in media, publishing and business, and 25 in entertainment.

Some of these are relatively obscure. But they include two Democratic members of Congress, which help Alabama voters rationalize- to themselves or otherwise- their opposition to the Democratic nominee for US Senator. They include also well-known individuals such as Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer.

And the 93-year-old George Herbert Walker Bush.  Although what he appears to have done- or still does- appears to have been far less reprehensible than most of the others, he, too, has gotten some publicity for misbehaving.

The accusations are coming fast and furious. If even a dedicated, elderly public servant can be found to have done wrong, an observation- never uttered in polite company- has taken hold among voters. Everyone is doing it.

If it is perceived as common behavior- and the notion that this conduct is prevalent and tolerated in American culture is being widely propagated- Roy Moore's behavior becomes somewhat normalized. It is seen as regrettable and even appalling. But it is not intolerable, not when his views represent those of a large swath of Alabama voters and his political party is the same as theirs.

When a candidate for President of the United States of America, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and leader of the free world was found boasting about sexual assault, the American people wrung their collective hands and rendered their verdict.

That verdict was: who cares?  It is a judgement the media, pundits, celebrities, and the American people are loathe to acknowledge. And when the voters of a state are inundated with news of one charge after another, one bad boy after another, it should be unsurprising that they are willing to give one of their heroes a pass. After all: isn't everyone doing it?

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