Today, Roy Moore disappointed those who thought that by now the Ayatollah of Alabama would have broken down and confessed to the crimes and misconduct reported in the Washington Post’s bombshell piece yesterday. He is not asking for forgiveness from God and the electorate in the time-honored manner of conservative Evangelical scoundrels caught in sin.
But nor is Judge Roy exactly denying everything, much as he continues to contend that the Post is engaged in a political hit job, and (in a prepared statement) says that he didn’t commit any actual crimes back when he may or may not have been in the habit of pursuing minors for romantic if not sexual purposes.
And in his first interview after the Post story broke, with Sean Hannity, Moore continued to speak very carefully — like a slick lawyer, one might say. He flatly denied even knowing, carnally or otherwise, the woman who made the most serious allegation against him, Leigh Corfman. Corfman told the Post that when she was 14, Moore, then a 32-year-old prosecutor, offered to look after her at the courthouse during her mother’s custody hearing. Eventually he arranged to meet her in secret, and had sexual contact with her at his house. But despite Hannity’s repeated attempts to give him an opportunity to clear his name entirely, Moore got very cagey when asked if he ever dated teenagers at the time in question. He could not remember doing that, and said it would have been “out of character” for him. But then Moore made the odd qualification that if he had dated the teenagers he wouldn’t admit to having dated, he would have asked their mothers’ permission. Again: It’s as though he was only willing to deny the one allegation that would, if proven, surely damage his candidacy severely.
So Moore is clearly digging in, and only time will tell if he’s digging his own political grave. At this point it’s mostly a question of whether you believe Leigh Corfman made the whole thing up, or that Moore is hiding something. He’s clearly hoping Alabama voters trust him enough to believe he may be a fanatic and a hate-monger but not a sexual predator. But his evasiveness and the creepy habits he’s not denying very convincingly make him vulnerable, particularly with so many national Republicans giving him a wide berth.
The next thing to watch for is whether Moore clams up and refuses to address the issue further, and whether Corfman and the Post have more to say, particularly about Moore’s claims that he’s never met her and that his behavior with other teens was irreproachable. Based on today’s performance, Moore is hardly his own best defense attorney.