Mapping the Swamp: What Next for the Anti-Roy-Moore Right?

While there were quite a few NeverTrumps who were against Roy Moore, we should not conflate the anti-Trump right with the anti-Moore right. As I stated in an earlier post, the anti-Trump right included some people who were actually principled, and who felt Donald Trump's public record failed to meet their minimum standards for a conservative president, even in a race against Hillary Clinton. The NeverTrumps encouraged a host of stupid countermeasures, such as not voting for anyone for president, writing in something like "Ronald Reagan's ghost," voting for Evan McMullin (close your eyes and if you think long enough, you will remember who that was), or even, in the case of some far-gone cases, voting for Hillary Clinton to teach the GOP a lesson. These were, I admit, completely insane suggestions but the NeverTrumps were saved a life of penance for putting such ideas out there because as luck would have it, Donald J. Trump won. One can only imagine how excruciating life in America would be if Hillary Clinton had won, and how vicious the backlash would be against the right-wing people who would have helped to make that happen.

But that was so 2016. It is a year later now, and we have to come to terms with what happened in Alabama. The "conservatives" who fought to sink Roy Moore's candidacy, led by such figures as David French, Matt Drudge, Ross Douthat, and George Will, overlap quite a bit with the NeverTrumps but they are a completely different animal. First, I think of someone like my friend Jason who was NeverTrump but not NeverMoore--I know of quite a few principled objectors to Trump who simply did not believe the accusations against Moore and therefore did not jump on the bandwagon. Then there were some Trump supporters, like Matt Drudge and possibly Fox figures such as Jeannine Pirro and Laura Ingraham, who were behind Trump but embraced the anti-Moore agenda hook, line & sinker.

Even the many NeverTrumps who were also NeverMoores, such as Shapiro-orbiting Matt Walsh, or evangelicals tied to the Gospel Coalition and Southern Baptist Convention, must be understood differently at the close of 2017, not in the same position vis-a-vis the American landscape that they occupied just after Trump's election. The people who rallied against Roy Moore were, first of all, not principled. Their reasons for opposing Moore were either based on longstanding dislike of him, which made their focus on his alleged sexual misconduct seem cynical or opportunistic; or else based on a sudden distrust of Moore purely because of the sexual allegations, which leaves us with the discomforting conclusion that they were gullible and simply too easily swayed to be trusted for quality political insights. I do not recall seeing anybody say they opposed Roy Moore while simultaneously asserting that the sexual allegations were rash and unfair. Virtually all his detractors on the right cited his status as an "alleged sexual abuser of teenage girls" due to "multiple credible accusers," and they clung to these swipes even as the allegations from Leigh Corfman and Beverly Nelson fell apart under scrutiny.

Whether the conservative NeverMoores signed on to the leftist slander against Moore out of opportunism or out of gullibility, the fact is, they were terribly wrong. They cannot claim, as the NeverTrumps did, that they had a mere difference of opinion from the vast majority of conservatives who backed Trump. The NeverMoores were reckless. The NeverMoores advised a course of action to evangelicals (sit out the election or do write-ins) which unfortunately swayed the election and resulted in a disastrous, unattractive, and buffoonish candidate, Doug Jones, going to the Senate on a kamikaze mission that will likely last but two years, during which time he can do a tremendous amount of damage that everyone in Alabama will live to regret. And painfully.

The NeverMoores committed a terrible sin against the body of Christ. Forget whatever "sins" they perceived in the possible lapses in sexual judgment of Roy Moore in the late 1970s, even the worst (and unlikely) charges against Moore included nothing that the Bible lists as an abomination. He never had forced or unforced sexual intercourse or even serious sexual congress, even in the worst case scenario that isn't likely true, with any of the females cast as "victims." High-minded appeals to the Bible and "character" were based on nothing. But the sowers of discord against Roy Moore, such as evangelical leaders who published articles warning that Christians who supported him were "hypocrites" or worse, were violating some of the most cherished dictates of the Bible. It is clear in scripture that gossip is bad, especially if it is unsubstantiated. Condemnation of our fellows such as labeling them untouchable and telling others to shun them is clearly denounced by Christ, and condemnation based on no evidence other than weak and muddled memories from suspicious accusers is close enough to "bearing false witness" that it stands as a violation of the Ten Commandments. These were not religious alarms that went off with the NeverTrumps, who complained about certainties in Trump's public records. In the case of the NeverMoores, however, the sins are of the highest order; these are Satanic sins since Satan is the father of lies and his name means "the accuser."

The NeverMoores signed their names on very stupid arguments, none of which will age well. The weaker their logic against Roy Moore, the more they swaggered and feigned arrogant certainty, such as in David French's National Review essay claiming that we should throw out due process and instead publicly condemn someone based on charges that would never pass muster in court. They talked themselves into convoluted circles, convincing each other (in George Will's words) that there were "mountains of evidence" against Roy Moore. In the case of the Emperor's new clothes, people like Peggy Noonan and Ted Cruz jumped on the bandwagon, feeding the mob's irrational verdict against Moore by calling laughable evidence "credible" and deeming a shoddy case against Moore foolproof. Noonan claimed that Ms. Johnson's accusation against Moore (the buttocks grab) must be true because she did not tell her mother. Cruz said Moore must be guilty because nobody in their thirties signs a high school yearbook, which was rather silly on Cruz's part since, according to Nelson's own story, she brought her yearbook to the restaurant three days before Christmas 1977, to the place where she worked and where she claimed Moore was a regular who knew her. People at workplaces often sign well wishes en masse, especially at Christmastime.

There was simply no "there there," no arguable case against Roy Moore. It was, from the beginning, an onion of postmodern rhetorical sleights, like a scene from Waiting for Godot. "Multiple accusers" referred to six women who remembered Moore behaving like a perfect gentlemen, seeking to get to know them when they were of legal age, in a culture that has Sweet Sixteen parties and debuts at age seventeen for marriageable girls to "come out" and be introduced to marriageable men. It is almost as though the post-gay-liberation American society forgot words like "chaperone" and "courting," plus they forgot that "coming out" once referred to adolescent girls being presented as potential brides, rather than to kids telling adults they are homosexual. It took chutzpah, cognitive dissonance, and sheer wishful thinking for people to weave together a tapestry of Roy Moore's life as a filthy sex offender. The problem for the NeverMoores is that time will march on, the passions will subside, and people will look back on them as embarrassing, ridiculous fools. Even worse, nasty and dangerous fools who foisted Doug Jones's blathering perversions on a state that shares none of his strange values.

Roy Moore has one job going forward: to be a gadfly and harass, hound, aggrieve, and sue the slanderous people who stole the election from him. He has nothing to lose and little else to occupy him. It serves his country for him to keep filing complaints and demanding recounts and investigations, because what happened to him was wrong and we need to get to the bottom of this scandal. Otherwise, anyone in America could be taken out with the same tactics.

I will check in with Roy Moore's camp from time to time to see what they are up to. In the meantime, I have to pray for the NeverMoores, because I do not know where they hope to go now. They have served as useful idiots to a left wing whose virtues have been debunked, whose platform has fallen apart, and whose standing is plummeting in the eyes of the public. The sex scandals, LGBT extremism, American exhaustion with riots, and collapse of liberal strongholds like media, colleges, and Hollywood--where do these eddies hurl the left next? With Obama gone, the left is not likable. There is no core or defensible doctrine holding their many identity-based groups together. The drag queens, oversexed homosexuals, perverts bringing dirty books to kindergarteners, and abortionists who funded Doug Jones' campaign are simply not great people to be chained to, as Doug Jones is. The left is, as well. If the NeverMoores could hope to reap some reward for having done the bidding of these degenerates, the reward could hardly be anything terrific.

But the truth is, the left will never be charitable toward Ross Douthat, Ben Shapiro, Ana Navarro, Matt Drudge, Matt Walsh, or the other NeverMoores. On a basic level, they represent the uptightness and snobbery the left was first conceived as an antidote toward. On a more complex level, the left will never respect them because they were their useful idiots, and will never trust them after having seen them betray other conservatives. Like a coquette being thrown out by a rake in an epistolary novel, like Anna Karenina waiting for the train to rush into the station, they are useless and no longer lovable.

It remains to be seen if they can return to the right. Roy Moore represented the beliefs of the vast majority of American conservatives and most of the right does not believe he was guilty of the terrible crimes alleged against him. Many conservatives in the grassroots suspect there was probably some voter fraud in Alabama, and that number will grow as evidence of what happened on December 12, 2017, continues to be uncovered by investigators or citizen journalists. Unlike Trump, Roy Moore is not a surprise validator for Christian values; Roy Moore was with Christians all along. If Roy Moore continues to make noise, I do not think conservatives will forget what the NeverMoores did to him. Even the most trusting conservative ranks must worry if they will be backstabbed one day by the same National Review types who will soon be chasing after them for votes, donations, subscriptions, and readership. And all the conservatives who watched the NeverMoores sink Roy Moore did so, just one year after watching the NeverTrumps try to sink Donald J. Trump.

The Moore supporters included an ample supply of vocal, intelligent, and articulate writers like Robert A.J. Gagnon, Carol Swain, and Matt Barber, who have long memories and a well-established history of not shutting up. The upshot of this is that the NeverMoores cannot tell the masses across America that all educated people were working from the same files that led them to take such a foolish position in Alabama's Senate election. They will not be able to live this down.

It could be that the NeverMoores will be able to rely on the deep pockets of their donors, or they may improve their brand by leveraging the massive advantage they have in media platforms. I fear such lifelines are going to dry up. Unloved and discarded by the left, distrusted by huge masses of people on the right, and unrepentant sinners against the body of Christ, they have a pathetically small and unhelpful constituency. They cannot make a business of doing each other's laundry forever. Time will tell.

I pray that the NeverMoores come to see what they did and repent of the slander. Even if they disliked Roy Moore due to differences in philosophy or style, they seized upon unproven allegations that were most likely not true, and they exaggerated wildly their importance in order to condemn someone who did no wrong to them. If they leave that conduct uncorrected, this may be it for them. Their careers will have ended, in such a scenario, on a tragic note. They will become, to future audiences, tragic villains in a Shakespearean drama ending in a bloodbath.

One thing is certain: they will never again be heroes of anybody's epics, even their own.

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