Roy Moore is trying to save himself with a tried and true conservative move: resorting to the politics of abortion.
If Republican Roy Moore survives allegations of sexual misconduct (several involving minors) and beats Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s Senate election Dec. 12, evangelical single-issue abortion voters will likely deliver the victory.
.. Understanding the power of the abortion issue, Moore’s wife, Kayla, claimed at a rally that Jones is the real threat to children, because he supports “full-term abortion,” which she defined as “suck[ing] a child’s brains out at the moment before birth.” Such a procedure, however, simply does not exist, as states generally restrict abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical necessity.
.. they claim to want to protect children (which they deem unborn fetuses to be), but appear to actually care more about securing a vote for their legislative priorities
.. Before the 1960s, an American woman could obtain a legal abortion only by traveling abroad or having a local doctor persuade a (typically all-male) hospital committee that a pregnancy threatened her life. In practice, this allowed wealthier and better-connected women, who were the family and friends of doctors, to obtain legal, safe abortions under false pretenses — while everyone else was forced to seek illegal, often deadly, abortions.
Fed up with this situation, male reformers from medicine, law and some more progressive religious communities began trying to legalize abortion.
.. Although not all feminist groups supported legal abortion, most seized upon the issue because it fit their larger priorities quite nicely. They wanted to redefine womanhood outside the strict confines of motherhood and domesticity, and as part of this project, they strove to reform the law to offer new opportunities to women. Having the legal right to choose whether to become a mother thus became the ultimate expression of women’s rights.
.. Conservatives turned seemingly unrelated issues, such as lowering taxes, a longtime Republican priority, into a way to strike a blow against legal abortion (by eliminating Medicaid funding for the procedure).
.. Thus, opposing legal abortion, which reformers had positioned as the ultimate expression of women’s rights, became backing the traditional American family (a particularly powerful expression because the nuclear family arrangement had long been promoted as distinguishing America from its communist adversary, the USSR)
.. The economic recession in the 1970s, which left many male breadwinners struggling to keep their jobs, made it easier for conservative Republicans to portray the efforts of feminists and their Democratic allies as a systemic assault upon the family unit. They claimed that by pushing for more opportunities for women, feminists and Democrats were undermining male breadwinners and taking their jobs at a time when men needed them most.
.. When Moore and his supporters court single-issue abortion voters — notably, Alabama’s evangelical Republican base — they are saying: Doug Jones is for feminism, which means he backs women, like Moore’s accusers, who are trying to diminish male power and seize it for their own purposes. Mentioning Jones’s abortion stance also signals that he rejects the traditional nuclear family and women’s domestic and maternal responsibilities within it.
.. Moore, on the other hand, is presented as a conservative Republican who, whatever his personal failings, is fighting a spiritual battle for Christian values as well as the traditional nuclear family and its prescribed gender roles. This means that as a man, his expressions of sexuality need not be questioned, while a woman’s must be channeled into motherhood. In this sense, rallying to save unborn children is perfectly consistent with backing a candidate accused of assaulting minors.
George Thomas Wilson, a retired magazine-marketing and P.R. professional now living in New York City, has never forgotten his first criminal-law class, at the University of Alabama School of Law, in 1974.
.. “Finally, at the end of the hour, McGee said to him, ‘Mr. Moore, I have been teaching in this school for thirty years, and in all of that time you’re the most mixed-up person I’ve ever taught. I’m going to call you Fruit Salad.”
.. Moore’s opponent in the race is Doug Jones, a Democrat and former U.S. Attorney best known for prosecuting two of the Ku Klux Klan members behind the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which killed four African-American girls.)
.. He called him “your average law student passing through.” Others offered harsher assessments.
.. “Roy always sat in front of us, and he would turn around and flirt. He’s the one thing that brought humor to us, because he was, well, kind of a doofus,” she said. “He’d yak at us. We were both single, rolling our eyes.” She added, “And then Roy would ask all of these questions to put himself in the middle of debating with an intelligent professor, and he was always cut to shreds.”
.. “He’d go to class, but he was argumentative, very stubborn, and not very thoughtful in his analysis of the cases. He was not a very attentive student. For the most part, students didn’t respect him much.” She added, “Of all my classmates, he was the least likely I’d think would become a U.S. senator.”
.. Moore had recently returned from Vietnam, where he’d been a military-police officer. Some who served under Moore there had referred to him, with sarcasm, as “Captain America,” chafing at his egoist style of command. One such officer, Barrey Hall, told the Associated Press, in 2003, that Moore’s “policies damn near got him killed in Vietnam. He was a strutter.”
.. Veterans told him that Moore demanded that he be saluted on the ground in Vietnam, Martin said, which everyone knew was a foolish thing to do. “When you go to Vietnam as an officer, you don’t ask anybody to salute you, because the Viet Cong would shoot officers,” he explained. “You’ve heard this a million times in training.” If Moore indeed violated this rule, Martin went on, “There’s nothing more telling about a person’s capability and character and base intelligence. It’s crazy.”
.. Martin, a self-described moderate, wrote an editorial in a local paper warning voters about his former student. In it, he describes Moore as a pupil so immune to logic and reason that he forced his exasperated teacher to “abandon the Socratic method of class participation in favor of the lecture mode.”
.. “He was very, very opinionated. To the point of just being ridiculous,” Melton said. “He had ultraconservative values and opinions. I’m not saying he wasn’t liked, he was just different.” Wilson said, “He was Looney Tunes from the beginning. But I never really thought he was malicious. Some of the verbiage that’s come out of him more recently, it’s a much harsher, meaner man than I remember.”
.. Most of Moore’s classmates didn’t recall Christianity being a noticeable part of his public persona. “I had no sense that Roy was a really religious person
.. “I can’t get into his mind, or his heart, but I think it’s all political. He’s demagoguing on those issues.”
.. I don’t think this Doug Jones has a snowball’s chance in Hell,” he added. “He’s a Democrat and they gonna . . . ” Melton trailed off. “Hell, Moore will get sixty-five per cent of the vote.
.. Southern Baptists control the damn state. And they’ll vote for Roy. It’ll be a landslide.”