Moore faces a close race with Democrat Doug Jones in a special election next week. Some Republicans find him so reprehensible that they’ve threatened to expel him from the Senate if he manages to win. And yet Trump has given Moore a full-throated endorsement.
The president says a lot of things that are inaccurate and insincere. But when he said, “Go get ‘em, Roy,” he was revealing his true character. It was a pure Trumpian moment. He could have been looking in the mirror and cheering himself on.
Start with their shared attitudes toward women. Hit on as many as possible. Grab and grope. Some may give in. And if you’re accused of assault later, deny everything.
Trump made his philosophy completely clear in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. “I just start kissing them,” he bragged. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
That’s a cogent summary of Trump’s philosophy: When you’re a star, you can do anything. And he said it even before he was elected president, his biggest starring role ever.
Moore is not in Trump’s league; the mall in Gadsden, Alabama is not exactly a penthouse in Manhattan or Hollywood. But the pattern is similar. Moore was so creepy in his pursuit of young girls that he was reportedly banned from the mall and the YMCA, as well.
There’s more. Faced with numerous accusations of sexual misdeeds during last year’s campaign, Trump told a New Hampshire radio station, “These are stories that are made up, these are total fiction.”
Moore used almost identical language, telling a campaign rally, “These allegations are completely false, they’re malicious ... I do not know any of these women.”
He was lying. Two of Moore’s accusers have produced notes to them in his handwriting. But Trump was happy to take his best bro at his word. “He totally denies it,” the president explained, dismissing the charges against Moore.
The soul mates have another trait in common: They both believe they’re bulletproof, that the conventional rules don’t apply to them.
Moore was twice ousted from his post as chief judge of Alabama for defying court orders. The first time, in 2003, he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the state judicial building. After being re-elected in 2012, he was deposed again for telling state judges to defy the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.
Throughout his career, Moore has justified his actions by appealing to a higher authority than made-man statutes. “God is the only source of our law, liberty and government,” he said during a debate in September. And of course Roy Moore is, conveniently, God’s messenger, so he doesn’t have to abide by earthly limitations.
Trump makes no claims to divine guidance; in fact, he seldom mentions religion. His sole source of authority is, well, himself. If he says something is true, then that’s that, damn the facts.
Moore invokes God to defy judges who have ruled against him. Trump doesn’t need that excuse. He has denounced numerous “so-called judges” who object to his policies without appealing to a higher power. And now his lawyers have adopted the same mentality.
In a truly astounding statement of true Trumpism, the president’s attorney, John Dowd, told the website Axios the “president cannot obstruct justice because he’s the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution, and “has every right to express his view of any case.”
Yes, the president has the right “to express his view” on an issue like Russia’s role in the 2016 election. But speech and action are not the same thing. Trump has no right to undermine the ongoing investigation into that role. The articles of impeachment drafted against both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton included obstruction charges, and it is a fundamental principle of American democracy that no president is above the law. Let alone a judge in Alabama.
Mitt Romney, once the GOP nominee for president, called Moore’s candidacy a “stain” on his party, adding: “No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”
But as “The Roy and Donald Show” demonstrates, that battle has already been lost.
Steve and Cokie Roberts can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.