By D. Allan Kerr
If I’m a young boy growing up in 2017 America, the lesson I’m learning from today’s headlines is: Don’t admit any wrongdoing if you are ever accused of doing something you shouldn’t.
And don’t apologize to those you have offended. In fact, if they happen to be women you should insinuate they are liars, whores or just plain nuts.
Al Franken has seemingly done what we expect men to do when they’re accused of sexual harassment – he acknowledged actions he agreed were inappropriate, made heartfelt apologies to his accusers, recommended an ethics investigation into his own behavior and vowed to be a better man going forward. But in the end, colleagues from his own party called for his resignation.
His career in the United States Senate is now over.
Roy Moore is obviously much smarter than his Democratic counterpart. Not only has he denied the accusations of the many women who have charged him with predatory acts, he claims he never even knew them. He insinuates they’re being paid to make up lies about him. He insists it is he, not these women, who is the victim.
His career in the United States Senate is, in all likelihood, just beginning.
Actually, he’s on the verge of becoming a saint of the evangelical South. A sign outside an Alabama church last week put him right up there with Jesus Christ, suggesting Moore was being “falsely accused,” just like the Savior. He is being persecuted not for being a pervert but for his Christian beliefs, supporters say.
Moore is flat-out denying everything – now. He has said “I do not know any of these women” and “I did not date any of these women.” But originally he admitted knowing Debbie Wesson Gibson, who says she was 17 when she dated the then-34-year-old Moore.
“I don’t remember going out on dates,” Moore told Fox pundit Sean Hannity last month. “I knew her as a friend. If we did go out on dates, then we did.”
Then he apparently remembered he didn’t know Gibson. Debbie didn’t like being called a liar, so she produced a high school graduation card with a handwritten note signed by Moore. A former FBI handwriting expert told the Washington Post the signature appears authentic.
Additionally, Beverly Young Nelson has produced her high school yearbook which also bears a handwritten note and signature from Moore. Nelson is the woman who claims the former judge tried to force her into oral sex in his car when he was a district attorney and she was a 16-year-old student.
At last count, nine women have accused Moore of various misconduct. He and his spokespeople have responded by calling them liars, forgers and frauds, and Moore has said the stories were “made up just to defame my character.” He tells church congregations he’s the victim of a conspiracy by “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenders who want to change our culture.”
He has implied the women were paid by George Soros.
Social media comments supporting Moore tend to point out these alleged acts took place many years ago and did not result in sexual intercourse. They also say God has forgiven Moore. And Moore has said when he did date young women he always did so with their mothers’ permission.
Now, if the good judge didn’t do anything wrong, why does his story keep flip-flopping? And if he wasn’t pursuing underage girls, why did he need parental permission to date their daughters? And shouldn’t he be seeking the forgiveness of these women as well as God?
The Alabama candidate is basically following the strategy of Donald Trump and the godfather of successful sexual harassers, Bill Clinton. Trump in particular not only called his accusers liars but also mocked them and suggested they weren’t attractive enough to be sexually assaulted.
And people wonder why women are reluctant to come forward with charges against famous men.
Like Trump, Moore has also threatened to sue his accusers and – like Trump – he absolutely never will.
Franken seemed to me genuinely contrite when he apologized to the women who complained of his actions. He denies some of the claims and says he remembers other incidents differently, but he understands he did not behave appropriately at times. And he never set out to destroy the lives of these women.
But I’m admittedly biased, because in recent years Franken – the unlikeliest United States senator I can recall – has become one of my favorite politicians. I was especially impressed with his dogged questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding contacts with Russians.
With his resignation, at least, Democrats can now challenge their Republican brethren to meet the same standards when it comes to sexual harassment. Franken noted this himself during his speech Thursday.
“There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” he said.
As their defenders keep pointing out, the difference here is both Moore and Trump have denied the accusations against them (except in Moore’s original interviews and Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape.) So far this has worked for them.
But hopefully Moore – once elected – will be subjected to the same Senate ethics investigation Franken proposed for himself. Based on his own comments, Moore would have some explaining to do. At the very least it seems he has assassinated the reputations of these women and lied about knowing them.
And an ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by one of his accusers in New York could force Trump to be accountable for his actions and claims as well.
If these guys are lying and slandering, in addition to the various claims against them, American boys might still learn you can’t always talk or buy your way out of offensive behavior.
(December 9, 2017)