Roy Moore has been accused by at least five credible witnesses of having been a pedophile and a sexual predator more than three decades ago. While those accusations alone don’t prove guilt, their existence should absolutely make him ineligible to be a Senator from Alabama.
As I try to explain his surge in the polls to my teenage daughter after these accusations became public last week, I am reminded of 1986 in Austria. Kurt Waldheim who had previously served as Secretary General of the UN from 1972 to 1981, was revealed to have served as a Nazi intelligence officer who may have committed war crimes while stationed in Thessaloniki from 1942 to 1945.
We know well from the election of Donald Trump that the American public can be easily duped. But, Roy Moore’s surge seems – more like Waldheim’s – to be tied to a reactionary impulse among a population that is still more insular and less educated than most others, just like the people of Austria.
After Waldheim became President, he and his wife were declared personae non grata in the US and most of Europe, and Austria was treated as a pariah in Europe until his term ended in 1992. Alabama, of course, is already an exception in the United States. But, if elected, I can see the Republicans welcoming Roy Moore with open arms when he gets to Washington. They are going to need his vote.