The increasingly ugly Roy Moore train wreck in Alabama poses quite a dilemma for elected Republicans in Tallahassee, particularly those running for higher office, most specifically for House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Moore’s situation is one horn of that dilemma. The other horn is the pickle in which Senator Jack Latvala finds himself.
There are obvious similarities between the two dramas. Both men are accused of deplorable behavior toward women, including physical assault. Both have issued qualified denials. Moore admits to pursuing barely legal teenage girls while in his 30s, but categorically denies fondling a 14 year-old. Latvala admits inappropriate verbal conduct on occasion, but categorically denies any physical assaults.
And there are obvious differences as well. Moore’s accusers all have names, corroborating contemporary testimony from dozens of witnesses, and a particularly repugnant context given the age of the girls at the time of the occurrences. Latvala’s accusers are all anonymous, with no known corroboration, and one would suspect his accusers were closer to 30 than 14 at all relevant times.
And there is another very big difference. There is no process for an independent evaluation of the charges against Moore, but there is for the charges against Latvala. Each of us must judge Moore by our own lights, and all of us can await the verdict of the independent investigation of Latvala.
Yet the Speaker did not wait. He called for Latvala’s resignation from the Senate before the ding of the incoming POLITICO story on his iPad stopped reverberating. Given both the similarities and the differences between the Moore and Latvala situations, one would expect Corcoran would have already demanded that Moore step aside, as an increasingly large number of Republicans, from Mitch McConnell in D.C. to Jeb Bush in Florida, are doing. But no. Thus far, the gravitational pull of Trump primary votes appears to have overwhelmed principled consistency.
And what about other Republicans who aspire to statewide office? Adam Putnam, a center-right conservative born again as a right wing ideologue, has nonetheless found the courage to speak truth to the power that is the Trump voter in a Republican primary by calling for Moore to withdraw his candidacy. Are there others of similar mettle? Does Ashley Moody, the woman who aspires to be our chief law enforcement officer, believe Leigh Corfman or Roy Moore? Madame X or Jack Latvala? How about Matt Caldwell and Denise Grimsley? Joe Negron? Rick Scott?
Bet on them hedging with “He should step aside if true” or “It’s up to the people of Alabama, not me” on Moore and “Let the process work” on Latvala, which at least have the virtue of consistency, however pusillanimous.
But Corcoran’s silence on Moore and his savage assault on Latvala is pure politics.
Mr. Speaker, if Jack Latvala should resign, should Roy Moore step aside?
***Update – Tuesday 7:39 a.m.*** – Corcoran tweeted to Florida Politics, “As the father of two teenage girls, there can’t seriously be a question of my position. Roy Moore should step aside.”
And may we be spared the due process dodge?
As Molly Wilson, the only woman with a name to so far come forward and accuse Latvala of verbal abuse, said about due process and Roy Moore in a tweet today: “People. Especially those of you who can vote in Alabama – there is no requirement that allegations against Roy Moore be *proven* for you to decide he is unfit for office. The standard for “should be in prison” vs. “should be in the Senate” aren’t the same.”