Being rich and powerful can protect you for a while, but eventually that fails. Charisma and sanctimony and hypocrisy work, too, but not forever. Someday, sooner or later, you’re going down.
As a great many people seem to be learning the hard way at the moment. Bill and Hillary Clinton are watching the entire Democratic Party turn on them. Since they won’t quietly fade away into a disreputable but wealthy retirement, they are being bludgeoned into it. The Podesta brothers, having played in fast company all their lives, are crashing and burning. Paul Manafort may well do jail time for tax evasion and other crimes from his years of running interference for the thugs who once ruled Ukraine.
Chris Christie, disgraced and disliked after years of bullying and strong-arming his way through New Jersey politics, could only watch helplessly as the Republican candidate for governor was crushed in the recent election. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey and (it would seem) about half the men in the entertainment business have been accused of sexual harrasment. Let us hope they get what’s coming to them (but also hope that it doesn’t turn into a witch hunt like the daycare center scandal of the 1980s, which destroyed guilty and innocent alike).
And now it may be Roy Moore’s turn. Did he or did he not abuse young teenage girls when he was in his 30s, half a lifetime ago? I know only what I read in the newspapers and on the web, and the accusations seem irrefutable. However, he denies it vehemently, and the timing of the story is more than a bit suspicious. Nonetheless, given the current hysteria over sex abuse, he is now toxic to the Republican establishment, which can’t wash their hands of him quickly enough.
Not that they needed much of an incentive. Moore is, shall we say, a colorful character who has twice been elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and twice removed for his pig-headed refusal to follow the law concerning separation of church and state. He has not made his career catering to the opinions of urbane elites living in the Washington suburbs.
We may never know the truth for sure, and if he loses the election, it may not matter from the legal standpoint with any statute of limitations having passed decades ago. But it matters a great deal to the powers that be in Washington. And the people of Alabama are between a rock and a hard place. It remains to be seen who is less electable — a man who may or may not be a sexual predator with a taste for young girls, or a Democrat.
Because we can safely assume that the good people of Alabama don’t wink at sex crimes, that this is a valid question speaks volumes about the sad state of the Democrats, who have a deserved reputation for covering for the sexual predators in their own party, and at the national level have adopted a platform that is anathema in Alabama and other conservative states. How ironic that delivering a message to the Democrats and the rest of the “swamp” may result in the election of a creature who belongs in one of its murkier, smellier backwaters.
Maybe Moore will bow to the pressure and make way for a write-in candidate, and Alabama’s voters will decide that any credible (that is, scandal-free) Republican is preferable to the Democrat. Or maybe not. Seems unlikely. That’s not been Moore’s style.
These are cringeworthy times in American politics. I suspect that one day lots of people will come to regret their dalliance with people like Donald Trump and Roy Moore, and many more will wonder how in the world they ever fell for slimy operators like the Clintons. But not yet.
In a nation deeply divided along ideological lines, too many people are united in believing that they have been failed by our political class. The rage has a long way to go before it abates and the voters come to realize that the reprobates they elected to express their displeasure have done more harm than good.
Maybe then they will come to see the wisdom in another of history’s important lessons — character counts.
Kenneth D. Gough of Elizabethton is a semi-retired businessman.