Time to Put Morality Above Politics
There are those that think that columnists for local papers should stick to writing about local issues. This writer usually does. Pot sales in town, our city’s gay heritage, our magnificent local book store, how Laguna is, well, not Newport Beach. All have been touched on over the years. But for this column, a broader issue will be addressed.
The voices of women who have brought credible accusations of sexual assault and harassment have risen to a crescendo across this nation. Let us count but a few of those fired, disgraced, or forced into exile: Charlie Rose, Louis CK, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein. Yet, there is one arena where women’s accusations seem to take a back seat to more “important” considerations and that is in the political arena.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama says she believes the women who have come forward alleging that Senate candidate Judge Ray Moore engaged in sexual misconduct, including child molestation, with a 14-year-old. Yet, she intends to vote for him because it is better to have a Republican in office than a Democrat. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated view. Our president and many others have said basically the same thing.
It seems many Americans wear uniforms that either have a “R” or a “D”, and for them political considerations override anything else. Need an insuring vote to see that a tax bill gets through? Then by all means, let’s allow an accused pedophile into the most august legislative body in the world.
A few brave Republicans, like Jeff Flake and Paul Ryan, have taken a strong stand against Moore as has the president’s own daughter. When one reads the story in the Washington Post with all its corroborating evidence, then listens to Judge Moore’s stammering self defense on Sean Hannity’s show, it is difficult to believe his denials. There needs to be a communal consensus that we will put morality above political expediency. This must be done before our political uniforms sink so deeply into our skin that we become nothing more than warring tribes where political compromise, even civil discourse, is impossible.
Lest some of you think this is little more than a liberal hit piece against a good man from Alabama, let me be clear about a couple of things. Given the number of women who have come forward with accusations against Senator Al Franken, one with a picture of him groping a woman while she slept on a flight home from a USO tour, I believe he should step down immediately, even if the level of his transgression does not rise to the level of Moore’s. Is it too much to ask that the members of our Senate be of the highest moral quality?
For many liberals, this time of women coming forward with their stories should cause a painful reexamination of President Bill Clinton. Not just his relations with Monica Lewinsky, which at the time was dismissed by most feminists as just “consensual sex.” It was certainly not worthy of impeachment, they said. One female reporter said she would perform the same act on Clinton as a way of giving thanks for keeping abortion legal. Looking at this tawdry episode today, I hope that most of us see it for what that was; a powerful man getting sex because he was powerful. Impeach, probably not; resign, I would hope so.
What about those other women who claimed sexual abuse at the hands of President Clinton? Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey. Would we liberals be so quick to dismiss their claims today? I would hope not. The Clinton camp trashed them at the time. Top advisor James Carville said of Jones, ”Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” What would be the reaction if such a statement was made today? Let us hope it would be met with the same contempt it should have been met with in the 1990s.
Some commentators are saying we have reached a tipping point. Women will not be afraid to come forward when they have been sexually mistreated. For this to happen, we men must come to grips with the fact that, for eons, women have been mistreated and we must not tolerate those who have done so. In the Old Testament, women were little more than property. In the 1960s, the Rolling Stones felt it cool to sing about their girlfriend as being “Under My Thumb.” Now women are speaking out. Let us listen to their voices.
Powerful figures in the entertainment industry and the press have gotten the punishment they deserve. I hope when it comes to politics, we will not let our uniforms stand in the way of decency.
James Utt reminds us that over a dozen women have charged President Trump with inappropriate sexual behavior. He has said he will sue them all. So far, he has not filed one suit.