As I write another accuser has come forward with a story of Moore invoking the name of his office in the course of forcing himself on her. And as I write, dozens of Christian ministers are signing new letters of support for Judge Moore. I’ve referred to Roy Moore’s new sexual misconduct scandals as a predictable plot twist. When he won the nomination I joked on the podcast that it seemed like the kind of story likely to involve a sex scandal. There’s a type.
I’m sure I’m not the first to have noticed this. But imagine that Judge Roy Moore were a new fictional character in an overwhelmingly popular and buzzy prime-time drama. Imagine the character had the same jutting chin, the same taste in leather vests and five gallon hats, and he leaned into his accent the same way the real life Moore does. And the character, like Moore himself, told old lawyer’s jokes in his speeches, and spoke in a highly sentimental and emotional way about the law, and the rituals that surround the law. And that the character had risen to fame based on some unlawful, but moralized and highly symbolic acts of “defiance.” And that he carried a little pistol in his jeans pocket to flash during speeches while protesting, “I believe in the Second Amendment.” Imagine further that this television show featured an obviously amoral, priapic greedhead as president, and this new Evangelical firebrand character seemed to have no problem tying his name to that president. And this obvious huckster was adored by churchmen.
I’d bet many Evangelical leaders would be denouncing Hollywood for the malicious caricature. Another in in a long line of two-dimensional Jesus-creeps, a stereotype that had been tired long before John Lithgow’s role as the fun-hating preacher of Footloose.
And yet, in real life, many conservative Evangelicals are rallying to the malicious caricature, and in the process becoming one themselves.
I don’t know if I can handle any more fakes this year. A unified Republican party that can’t pass tax cuts. A reality-TV president. A Vatican that makes commemorative Martin Luther stamps. I dread whatever’s next.