For a while I was allowing myself to think, with each new scandal to emerge in entertainment or politics, that maybe this is the bottom. Now I’m convinced that the depths to which people will sink in their own depravity or in the politically selfish justification of others’ have yet to be fully explored. I suspect even when we do hit the proverbial “rock bottom” there are many who will still not be deterred. They’ll delve below the crust using ingenius methods that even Edgar Rice Burroughs never imagined.
Jonah Goldberg succinctly described the absurd state we now find ourselves.
In 2017 it's controversial — AMONG CONSERVATIVES — for the GOP establishment to express disapproval for a guy who can't categorically deny he "dated" teenagers.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) November 15, 2017
Even expressing the notion that the allegations against Roy Moore might be credible is enough to make you a target for those on the right who believe that political victory is the highest good. Like conservative principles, basic decency is now become acceptable collateral damage if it means delivering a political defeat to the left.
In what is perhaps one of the most laughable developments to come from this debacle, people on the left are now starting to say that maybe they weren’t adhering to their own ideals when they did everything in their power to dismiss each and every allegation against philanderer in chief Bill Clinton.
Bravo to Caitlin Flanagan for having the courage to write this! It's time for Americans—and especially Democrats—to face the allegations against Bill Clinton, @CaitlinPacific argues https://t.co/R4MKKb4PkP
— Lisa Myers (@LisaMyers) November 14, 2017
“It’s time?” No, it’s well past time. It was time when Clinton was still in the White House lying under oath.
As gross and cynical and hypocrtical as the right's "what about Bill Clinton" stuff is, it's also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 10, 2017
There may be some people who have had a true change of heart on the matter but for many I suspect this is about unloading baggage that harms their credibility when condemning the parade of sexual predators marching across the headlines. It’s political expediency disguised as a moment of moral clarity.
They didn’t just realize Clinton was a bad guy. They just made a political calculation that told them admitting it now is a net gain for them. This wasn’t behavior that they had mistakenly overlooked. They actively participated in covering for Clinton and deliberately portrayed him as a mishceivous rogue rather than a serial sexual predator, all for the sake of a partisan politics.
Back then, the left set out to destroy his accusers with extreme prejudice and portray them as “trailer park” trash. The media wing of the Democrat Party convinced many in America that everybody cheats on their spouse and lying about it to a grand jury is normal and appropriate. Special Counsel Kenneth Starr was caricatured as a prurient fetishist for investigating Clinton’s perjury because it happened to be about his extramarital sexual activities. The leftist organization MoveOn was specifically founded to convince Americans to “move on” and sweep Clinton’s creepy character issues under the rug. This “reckoning” some refer to now really has the same objective.
Out of all of this came the cry from pundits on the right that “character mattered.” It was a rally cry for conservatives. It was also—we would come to find—a pile of bovine excrement, because in the era of Trump, character no longer mattered for those who led that charge against Clinton.
Now those same people—Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.—are quick to rationalize and explain away character issues affecting Republicans like Trump or Roy Moore. Their moral compass like that of many voters on the right no longer points north (if it ever truly did). It points wherever it needs to at any given moment based on what is best for their political tribe. (To Hannity’s credit, he did allow himself to be dragged kicking and screaming into a place where Moore’s actions look aberrant.)
The party of Trump is using the same playbook to defend Roy Moore as the left used to defend Bill Clinton. The ubiquitous “whataboutism” on the right is no different than the tu quoque fallacies used to defend Clinton. Moore’s loyalists haven’t been as ruthless in applying the tactics of personal destruction. That may just be because they don’t have the mainstream media to back their play. There’s absolutely no reason to think such things are beneath people who applaud the petty vindictiveness of the man now seated at the top of the GOP.
And when I tweet this kind of thing, Bannonistas come at me about how I need to prove my "purity" and "superiority" and how I set such a "high bar." Pedophilia isn't a high bar you idiots. It's not even a floor. It's a subbasement. https://t.co/Prl50hlNKg
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) November 15, 2017
Years ago, I rejected the political left on philosophical grounds but also because of the amoral, win at all costs, devious nature of its tactics. Now that the political right is adopting those same tactics it has made me a political refugee. Any movement that demands that we excuse sexual predators, rapists, pedophiles, creeps, liars or thieves in order to secure victory does not deserve to win.