Cruz and Cornyn refuse to fully condemn Roy Moore

Sam Groves

I think we can divide the people who still support Judge Roy Moore’s Senate campaign into three categories.

First, there are those who don’t believe the allegations against him: inappropriate relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s, including two who say he sexually assaulted them when they were 14 and 16 years old. These allegations were exhaustively reported by the Washington Post in a story that cited four accusers and more than 30 sources, and they were later supplemented by a fifth accuser who came forward Monday. But it would seem that some people demand a higher standard of proof.

Others demand a lower standard of morality. In the second category are those who believe the allegations but don’t believe that Moore did anything wrong. These evidently include Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler, who likened the relationship between Moore and his victims to that of Joseph and Mary in the Bible.

Third and finally, there are those who believe the allegations and are horrified, but would rather vote for a child predator than risk allowing a Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate.

Of these three categories, I wonder which ones Ted Cruz and John Cornyn fall into.

Both Texas senators endorsed Moore prior to these allegations, despite his sickening bigotry toward the LGBTQ community and Muslims. After the fifth accuser came forward, Cruz and Cornyn rescinded their endorsements.

But their divorce from Moore could hardly be more amicable. Despite the evidence, Cruz and Cornyn continue offer Moore the benefit of the doubt, clinging to the “if true” caveat that dozens of GOP elected officials have employed to avoid fully denouncing their nominee. In his statement, Cornyn called the charges “disturbing and, if true, disqualifying.” Meanwhile, Cruz lamented that he was unable to back Moore “so long as these allegations remain unrefuted.”

It’s unclear what would be enough to convince these two. When five women come forward offering copious details of a candidate’s sexual misconduct and predatory behavior, including documentation of their connections to him — Moore even signed the fifth woman’s high school yearbook — what more do you need to completely avail yourself of that candidate? What rebuttal could Moore possibly give that would clear his name beyond a shadow of a doubt?

For what it’s worth, not all Republican senators have been so noncommittal. Thirteen of them have called unequivocally for Moore to step aside, including Mike Lee and Steve Daines, who had previously endorsed him, and majority leader Mitch McConnell, who had not.

But our senators seem to have other priorities. The most telling part of Cruz’s statement came when he said that the people of Alabama shouldn’t be forced to make “an untenable choice between a candidate under a serious cloud of potential criminal conduct or a liberal Democrat.” And therein lies the motivation for Cruz and Cornyn’s newfound radical skepticism: To them, those two options are equally bad.

Earlier I said that Moore supporters in the third category prioritize partisanship over morality. Such is the case with Cornyn and Cruz: They’re so disturbed by the allegations against Moore that they’d rather see anyone else win — anyone other than his opponent, that is.

Groves is a philosophy junior from Dallas. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @samgroves