“I believe the women.”
Thank you, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for making that simple, yet profoundly important, statement regarding the women who have said that Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore sexually preyed on them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s and a district attorney in Gadsden, Ala..
Until McConnell answered a reporter’s question in Louisville Monday by saying, “I believe the women, yes,” his call for Moore to drop out of the Dec. 12 special election had been conditioned on “if these allegations are true.”
The Trump White House and many other Republicans also had added the “if the allegations are true” caveat to their calls for Moore to step aside.
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None of them spelled out how the allegations would or even could be proven true. The statutes of limitation that were in effect at the time have expired, so he can’t be prosecuted even though one woman says Moore molested her when she was 14.
Predictably, Moore’s allies are attacking the women, including an Alabama state lawmaker who says they should be prosecuted for waiting so long to go public about Moore’s pedophiliac behavior.
Victims of sexual abuse and harassment have many reasons for keeping quiet, including shame and the knowledge that victims, especially women accusing powerful men, often are blamed and accused of lying.
In this case, it appears no one asked Moore’s victims until The Washington Post sent reporters to Alabama. It’s now being reported that it was common knowledge in the early 1980s that Moore, who went on to become Alabama’s chief justice, cruised the Gadsden Mall and other locations looking to pick up teenage girls.
With his statement Monday, McConnell became the highest ranking Republican to unconditionally call for Moore to step aside in favor of another Republican candidate. House Speaker Paul Ryan joined McConnell on Tuesday, saying the women “are credible” and Moore should step aside.
McConnell has political motives for wanting to see Moore discredited. It would bolster his assertion that Republican candidates supported by Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former adviser, are too extreme and loaded with baggage to win in November 2018. McConnell and Bannon are locked in a battle that could decide the future of the GOP. In Alabama, Bannon supported Moore while McConnell supported Sen. Luther Strange, who lost the primary to Moore.
But put the politics of the moment aside. McConnell’s simple declaration of belief is powerful, especially now as more women find the courage to reveal the abuse and degradation they have endured from powerful men. Their stories are important. Hearing them now will help assure that more of today’s girls and young women can live their lives and pursue their dreams and opportunities free of the dread and shame that oppressed too many of their mothers and grandmothers.
McConnell’s statement will give more women the courage to speak the truth of their own experiences.
Meanwhile, by mid-day Tuesday, Kentucky’s other senator, Rand Paul had yet to modify his support for Moore.