As the special Senate election in Alabama comes down to the wire, the battle for the veneer of moral superiority in the era of Weinstein is reaching an apex. On the GOP side, we have the execrable Judge Roy Moore, whom you should loathe even if you are skeptical about the allegations of sexual abuse and pedophilia, and who unrepentantly spews some truly mind-numbing garbage. On the Democratic side, we have Doug Jones, whose policy platform mirrors the liberal wing of the party playbook, vying for a seat in a land where most of those policies are utter anathema and an affront to all they believe. The good folks of Alabama are left with a “rock and a hard place” choice, where neither outcome will do them good.

This election, coinciding with the cavalcade of sexual predation stories dominating the press (aka the “pervnado”), brings forth yet again the clash between principle and zero-sum tribal politics. I stress “yet again” because this isn’t anything new, despite the Left seeking to tailor the narrative so that the Democratic Party, the party of Bill and Ted, presents as the party of women, justice, and morality. Indeed, despite the plethora of famous heads rolling down the liberal aisles in Hollywood and the mainstream press, the party’s actions present it as the proactive one, and by contrast (and especially with Moore), present the GOP as the sexist, misogynistic, and recalcitrant one.

This presentation is personified in the saga of Al Franken, who faced an accusation of predation backed by photographic proof that opened the door to multiple others. Franken denied and deflected, and initially refused to resign. The party, in particular the party’s elected women, started lining up against him, and Franken finally relented. He announced his resignation, but in classic flounce, he mostly denied wrongdoing and used the moment to engage in tu quoque attacks on Trump and some Republicans.

It bears noting that Franken’s seat is not in play. His is a reliably blue state with a Democratic governor, and his early exit not only allows the party to install another Democrat in his place, it probably makes it much easier for the party to retain the seat in 2020. True, there will be a special election in 2018 to fill the seat for the final 2 years of the term, but in the interim, it appears that Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith (a woman) is the front runner to fill the seat (and the current rumor is that she won’t run in the special election), adding some additional virtue signal to the resignation. Furthermore, we’re close enough to that 2018 election for the pernado narrative to carry over, and Moore will be held up as the poster child for Republican grossness next fall. They’re taking a calculated risk on that seat, specifically, but more broadly, the Dems appear to be seizing the opportunity to leverage the pervnado and Moore’s grotesquerie for national benefit.

High-minded folks might be inclined to take a less cynical view of the Left’s actions here, and especially to single out the Republican Party in general and Trump in particular for not only not defenestrating Moore, but for saying “he may be a pig, but he’s our pig, and we need the votes.” Here, it behooves us to remember that scum and villainy are not remotely unique to one party or the other.

Thus, I present what I dub the “Joy Behar Rule.”

Just about 2 years ago, Joy Behar, comedian and co-host of ABC’s “The View,” opined:

Chappaquiddick. I mean, a girl drowns and he abandons her and … women still voted for Teddy Kennedy. Why? Because he voted for women’s rights. That’s why. That’s bottom line of it in my opinion. I don’t like either one of them, to tell you the truth, Teddy or Bill. But, they’re both dogs, as far as I’m concerned. But I still will vote for Bill Clinton because he votes in my favor.

She was applauded for this prioritization of partisan politics over principle. She also, horrifically, downplayed the death-resulting indifference of Teddy Kennedy and the power-based sexual predation of Bill Clinton by calling them “dogs.”

The message?

Behavior is to be judged not in and of itself, but within the context of personal political benefit.

This is why the awful Roy Moore is up in the polls, the day before the election. This is why Trump endorsed him. This is why GOP loyalists are rationalizing voting for or supporting him by engaging in tu quoque fallacies and moral relativism. This is why Bill Clinton and Teddy Kennedy are still revered by the Left (as was John F. Kennedy, a “dog” and worse, as well). This is why Hillary stood by her man, even as his predations ruined lives. This is why Huma Abedin took so long to dump Anthony Weiner. This is why it took so long to fire Bill O’Reilly. This is why there are different levels of proof applied to different people.

This is why Roy Moore will win.

And this is why we can’t have nice things. Or a political system that rewards upstanding behavior and adherence to principle. Or bipartisanship on matters of major policy. Or enough politicians that “do the right thing.”

It is only when enough people stop living by the Joy Behar rule that we might see politics become less dirty and more honest. Too few, however, want to be the first to break from the Joy Behar rule. Too many feel that going the principled route is tantamount to political suicide, because they expect the other team to continue to abide by the rule. Much as I hate to admit it, I cannot tell them they’re wrong.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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