In my Sunday column, I wrote about how a majority of Louisianans in 1991 found a line they would not cross and elected a deeply flawed Democrat, Edwin Edwards, over a much more flawed Republican, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, as governor.
Where, I wondered, was the line for national Republicans today, with disgraced judge and now accused child-molester Roy Moore on the ballot for U.S. Senate in Alabama?
In today's sharply divided politics, contests for the United States Senate tend to be much m…
Back then, national Republicans were adamant in their rejection of Duke as a representative of their party. Now, with the party struggling to pass any legislation at all and its slim Senate majority threatened, reaction has been more muddled.
Yes, most of Moore's possible future colleagues have voiced distress and said the allegations are disqualifying if true. But only a few have said the well-sourced accounts published last week in the Washington Post, including one centered on his alleged contact with a 14-year-old when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, are enough to keep him from office. Moore has denied that particular accusation, although he didn't dispute that he'd dated girls as young as 16.
So, good for Louisiana U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy for being one of the first.
Cassidy kept his condemnation short and to the point. He took to Twitter over the weekend and wrote that, "based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response and what is known, I withdraw support."
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana has withdrawn his support for embattled Republican Senat…
But it was enough. In that one sentence, Cassidy said that some things are more important than partisan advantage, and that Moore should not serve in the United States Senate even if the alternative is to cede a safe Republican seat to a Democrat (although he'd surely like the party to find another solution that would keep it in GOP hands). That the appropriate standard here is not guilt in a court of law — highly unlikely given how much time has passed — but moral fitness. And that women who come forward after many years of struggling with secrets like these have credibility.
(By Monday, more Republicans were falling in line, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he believed the women who spoke to the Post and called on Moore to step aside.)
Cassidy doesn't often get out front on contentious issues, which makes his outspokenness here all the more striking. If he can find the line, surely more of colleagues can, too.