America’s sudden reckoning with sexual assault and the harassment of women has swept across the worlds of entertainment, media, and politics. But the cultural upheaval set off two months ago by the revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct failed to reach one part of the political world: the segment of the Republican Party most vociferously supportive of Donald Trump.
Until late in the evening of Dec. 12, Roy Moore of Alabama looked as if he might ratify this strange state of affairs. His bid to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions became global news after the Washington Post published allegations that Moore, a former state supreme court chief justice, had sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl when he was in his mid-30s and had routinely lurked in the local mall pursuing other teenagers.
Revelations such as these would have led to Moore’s swift ouster if he’d been a movie director or TV journalist. But Moore is a politician. He’s a member of a Republican Party that’s embraced Donald Trump, running in a state that Trump carried by 28 percentage points. That’s why, even after three weeks of wall-to-wall coverage of his sex scandal, Moore still led his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, in most public polls and seemed poised to carry off a victory.
Moore had a survival plan. His public obeisance to Trump— encouraged by Steve Bannon, the president’s former top aide, whom Moore called his &