It may have only been President Trump and the Republican National Committee at the end of the day backing Moore with endorsements and money, but the damage was done when elected officials did not band together and pressure Moore to step down in place of another candidate. People who argued, “But they couldn’t change the ballot!” are unaware of the wide latitude courts have given parties to make changes, especially late changes.
For all the huffing and puffing about Democrats who waited until Al Franken faced the seventh accuser before they told him it was time to go. Putting aside Franken’s nonsense about retiring in “the coming weeks,” it left at least thirty Democratic Senators who said he needed to go.
Republicans, on the other hand, behaved like weasels. There was a lot of, “If the allegations are true” rhetoric. Politicians rescinded endorsements as if that means anything. “Oh hey, the Senator from North Dakota said he would no longer endorse the guy running in Alabama!” Whoop-dee-freaking-do.
It required a team effort of Republican Senators, President Trump and the Republican National Committee to all speak with one voice and say to Roy Moore, “You’re through. Step aside.” With enough pressure brought to bear on Moore, he likely would have stepped aside. But he saw the tepid reaction by Republicans. He, like Al Franken, knew an ethics investigation would probably take at least a year to complete.
Moore bided his time, and when it finally did become too late, Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee went all in for Moore. Other Republicans talked tough, but they were ready to go along if necessary.
So the question is, “Why?”
Why did they do it? It’s not the tribalism factor. The support Moore received from around the country from Trumpkins who went James Carville and called Moore’s accusers “liars” or claimed they were “manufactured” out of whole cloth indeed went the tribalism route.
For mainstream Republicans, however, it was all about math. They were ready to deal with the fallout from a Moore win to have his vote. With Jeff Flake and Bob Corker resigning and the wild-card votes of John McCain and Susan Collins hanging around, they could ill afford to have another Democrat in the chamber.
They quietly backed a guy credibly accused of trying to have sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
They didn’t have the guts to face down Roy Moore. Now Republicans will have a more difficult time advancing their agenda, and they have only themselves to blame.