Mitch McConnell hasn’t done a lot right in his decade as leader of the Senate Republicans. But one of the few things he’s done right is to keep Roy Moore at arm’s length.
When news broke that Moore stood accused of molesting women and pursuing girls young enough to be his daughters, McConnell called for the former Alabama chief justice to pull out of the race for Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat if the accusations were true. A few days later, as more accusers came forward, McConnell called for Moore to withdraw–effectively throwing his own party’s nominee overboard.
There was a lot of reason to hope that, at least this once, McConnell would put his country over his party. After all, two decades ago, he pressed for the expulsion of his longtime friend, Bob Packwood of Oregon, after it emerged that Packwood harassed women for years. McConnell was well aware Packwood’s departure would effectively hand his seat to the Democrats. However, as he put it during debate on Bill Clinton’s impeachment, he saw it as a choice of “retain the Senate seat or retain our honor.”
Apparently McConnell forgot the wisdom of those words, because while making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, McConnell reversed himself and claimed that Moore’s fate solely belongs to the people of Alabama.
McConnell first revealed his change of heart on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” Watch here.
Just over nine minutes into the interview, Stephanopoulos asked McConnell if he intended to refer Moore to the Senate Ethics Committee if he defeated Doug Jones. Instead, McConnell punted.
“Well, I think–we’re going to let the people of Alabama decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. And then we’ll address the matter appropriately.”
Sound familiar? That parrots the line we’ve been hearing from Steve Bannon–Moore’s fate is solely an Alabama matter.
Apparently that came as a surprise to Stephanopoulos, considering that Addison Mitchell said himself that he believes Moore’s accusers. So he asked McConnell directly–“Do you believe that Judge Moore should be in the Senate?”
And again, McConnell punted.
“I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”
He also refused to say whether he would recommend that the Ethics Committee take up the matter, and also refused to say whether the matter should be investigated.
McConnell took a similar line on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Watch here.
About five-and-a half minutes into the interview, host John Dickerson asked McConnell about the Alabama race. He noted that a recent CBS News poll suggested that McConnell’s call for Moore to get out actually helped Moore; some 56 percent of respondents said that McConnell’s stance made them more likely to vote for Moore. McConnell hedged again, saying that “in the end, the voters of Alabama will make their choice.”
With all due respect, Addison Mitchell, this is not just an Alabama issue. Nine women have come forward so far, with multiple eyewitnesses–far too many to be credibly dismissed. Moore’s response has, with few exceptions, consisted mostly of screaming “FAKE NEWS!” His only substantive attempts to address the allegations have both fallen flat. The nation at large has a right and a duty to ask if such a person belongs in the Senate, regardless of party. Are you that scared of Bannon gunning for your job?
If you believe Moore’s accusers and if you care about the integrity of the Senate, Addison Mitchell, show some leadership and insist that the Ethics Committee take up the matter if Moore is elected. Your unwillingness to do so amounts to a slap in the accusers’ face. It also has the effect of removing any moral authority you have to say anything about the allegations surrounding Al Franken.
In the last two years alone, McConnell has refused to even give a hearing to Barack Obama’s pick for Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, gagged Elizabeth Warren, and jammed through a massive tax bill without even giving anyone a chance to read it. But McConnell may have outdone himself with this reversal on Moore. If he is not willing to be a leader on this matter, it says a lot about him–and it isn’t good.
(featured image courtesy McConnell’s Facebook)