Orrin Hatch: If Alabama Voters Want an Alleged Sexual Abuser in Congress, They Should Have One

Orrin Hatch’s reputation for moral probity is fraying as rapidly as his own reelection prospects. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The hypocrisy surrounding Republican attitudes toward their party’s Senate candidate in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore, seems to know no end. When the allegations of sexual assault and teen-stalking first hit the judge and he responded with unconvincing bluster, GOPers, especially in the Senate, were stumbling over each other to disinvite him to Washington. But now that no other Republican option has emerged, and Moore looks to have at least an even chance of victory, we are hearing a different tune from his would-be future colleagues.

The most revealing is from the very senior Republican senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch. Back on November 9, Hatch (who did not, like many of his colleagues, endorse Moore immediately after his primary victory) joined other senators in expressing alarm over the allegations:

“If the deeply disturbing allegations in The Washington Post are true, Senator Hatch believes that Judge Moore should step aside immediately,” spokesman Matt Whitlock said.

Four days later, Hatch said he “stood with the Majority Leader” after McConnell called for Moore to fold his campaign.

Now Hatch is defending the president’s active endorsement of Moore, and suggesting that if Alabama voters elect Moore, the Senate shouldn’t second-guess them:

This position is a combination of moral relativism and political “might makes right”: If the voters of Alabama don’t care what Roy Moore did to underage women back in the day (in a separate comment, Hatch said “many of the things he allegedly did were decades ago”), then who are we to judge the judge?

This is not the approach one would expect a staunch member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take. Indeed, novelist Kurt Andersen, who acknowledges a long history of criticizing and satirizing Mormons, said this about LDS folk and Roy Moore:

[L]ike the authors of the brilliant Broadway musical [The Book of Mormon], I’ve also always had a sincere soft spot for Mormons because of their sincere commitment to leading virtuous lives ….

That admiration spiked the last few days when the quickest and most full-throated condemnation of Roy Moore and his Republican defenders came from Mormon Republicans. I wasn’t surprised. Because while I find their religious beliefs as extreme and strange as I do those of most American Protestants, Mormons seem more consistently virtuous and disciplined in the ways they live their lives.

It’s unlikely most Mormons have flip-flopped on Moore the way Hatch has. Certainly the Mormon who came very close to the presidency in 2012, Mitt Romney, hasn’t changed his position just because his party needs votes in the Senate:

You have to wonder if Hatch has been swayed by the reported efforts of the moral relativist in the White House to keep Romney from replacing the 83-year-old senator when his seventh term ends next year. If so, and if Hatch runs again, he may find that the voters of his own state will make a definitive judgment on his own behavior.

Hatch: If Voters Okay With Moore, Congress Should Be, Too