If a grown man was accused of molesting Orrin Hatch’s great-granddaughter, I don’t believe for a second that the senator would be fine serving alongside the child abuser, even if the predator supported tax cuts.
But on Monday, Hatch made clear that he puts his party above pretty much all other things — including child welfare and basic human decency — when he defended President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Roy Moore, who at age 34 was voted “Most Likely To Get Punched In The Face By Your Dad” at Etowah High School and now could be the next U.S. Senator from Alabama.
“I don’t think he had any choice but to do that,” Hatch told reporters Monday of Trump’s full-fledged endorsement of Moore. “He needs every Republican he can get so he can get his agenda through. That’s the only Republican you can possibly get down there at this time.”
“Many of the things that he allegedly did were decades ago,” Hatch continued. “That’s a decision that has to be made by the people in that state. If they make that decision, who are we to question them?”
First, the president most certainly did have a choice. In fact, he had a lot of choices. He could have taken the unlikeliest course and stayed quiet, or he could have withheld support, or he could have done the decent thing and said something along these lines:
“Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”
That comment was tweeted out by Mitt Romney, who has increasingly taken it upon himself to be the moral compass for a Republican Party that seems to have lost its own.
The Leigh Corfman that Romney refers to is one of Moore’s nine accusers and she told The Washington Post that Moore took her to his house, stripped off her clothes and then his own, put his hands on top of her bra and placed her hand on his underwear. She was 14 at the time.
Jacquelyn Orton, the wife of the late Utah Congressman Bill Orton, grew up in Alabama, is a good friend of Corfman. She is also friends with one of Hatch’s daughters.
“If it had been Sen. Hatch’s own daughter who was molested instead of my friend, Leigh, would he have so flippantly told [his daughter] that there was a deadline — a statute of limitations — on her pain, or anger, or sadness or sense of loss? I hope not. But now I’m unsure,” she said. Hatch's comments, Orton said, tell every sex crime victim “that their pain is of no import to him and he sides with his molester over them.”
The compulsion to win at all costs, to the point the Republicans will cozy up to a man accused of molesting a child, is deeply disturbing and reflects the warped morality of a party that has prided itself on defending traditional values.
If it wasn’t clear where Trump stood when it comes to honor, integrity and morality — and it should be by now — he doubled or tripled down on his support for Moore when asked about the endorsement Tuesday.
“We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me,” Trump told reporters. “We want strong borders, we want stopping crime. We want to have the things that we represent, and we certainly don’t want a liberal Democrat that’s controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer. We don’t want to have that for Alabama.”
It’s true. Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones opposes repealing Obamacare, although he does support cutting corporate taxes and preaches bipartisanship.
And he used the law degree — a degree he received around the same time Deputy District Attorney Moore was creeping on high school girls — to prosecute Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church in 1963 then headed a task force investigating the bombing of a woman’s clinic.
Maybe that’s not the kind of guy you’d want to have in the U.S. Senate. Maybe stick with the guy who was allegedly banned from a shopping mall for hitting on girls, has a record of racism, religious intolerance and homophobic stances and was twice removed from Alabama’s Supreme Court.
Now, before the right-wingers start mashing keys with emails about Al Franken and John Conyers and the rest, I completely agree mistreating or harassing adult women is inexcusable. But it is not the same thing as sexually abusing a child or “dating” girls who are half your age.
To be fair to Hatch, until Monday, he had criticized Moore and expressed support for a write-in campaign for Luther Strange, who lost the Republican primary before Moore’s allegations came to light.
But like the Republican National Committee, which had disavowed Moore, but now is again pouring money into the race, Hatch couldn’t manage to maintain his opposition once Trump endorsed Moore.
Others in Utah’s congressional delegation, to their credit, have managed to speak with clarity. Sen. Mike Lee, withdrew his endorsement of Moore and demanded he not use the senator’s name in campaign material; Rep. Chris Stewart said Moore should drop out; and Rep. Mia Love condemned the abuse.
And they are right to do it, because on this, there is no gray area. In response to Hatch’s comments, BYU student Addison Jenkins, tweeted a portion of a speech by Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being,” Oaks said in the 2012 General Conference. “Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests.”
If Hatch doesn’t understand that, maybe we’d be better off with Romney in the office.