And also, concerning ourselves: Questions:
Should Roy Moore have dated Gloria Deason in 1979, when she was 18, then 19, years old?
Should Deason's mother have thought that relationship was OK—indeed, was hugely desirable? Should she have hoped that Moore might end up marrying her daughter?
A few more questions for now:
If Alabama voters are trying to decide who to vote for next week, should they consider the fact that Moore, who has been married for 32 years, dated Deason for several months in 1979? Should that seem like a relevant fact?
And also this, a question about us:
Is it wise to build our politics around such questions as these?
In almost twenty years at this site, we've rarely asked such unusual questions. We ask them today because of the Washington Post's November 10 front-page report, in which Leigh Corfman became "first accuser in" with regard to Moore.
In that report, Corfman accused Moore of surreptitiously "dating" and then molesting her, back in 1979, when she was 14 years old.
That's a very serious charge. We now ask several more questions:
Does the apparent fact that Moore dated Deason that same year sensibly serve as "supporting evidence" with respect to that alleged very serious crime? If Moore dated someone who was 19 years old, would that tend to support the claim that he criminally assaulted someone else who was 14 years old?
Putting it a different way, should a sesnible voter consider Deason's report at all? Also, was it good journalistic practice when the Washington Post reported that Moore apparently dated some young women who were 17, 18 and 19 years old in such years as 1977 and 1979?
Roy Moore dated Deason in 1979! Once again, we present the Post's full account of the matter:
MCCRUMMEN, REINHARD AND CRITES (11/10/17): Gloria Thacker Deason says she was 18 and Moore was 32 when they met in 1979 at the Gadsden Mall, where she worked at the jewelry counter of a department store called Pizitz. She says she was attending Gadsden State Community College and still living at home.Trigger warning! Given our knowledge of American culture, we don't find that report to be gigantically shocking. That said, we restate our basic question:
"My mom was really, really strict and my curfew was 10:30 but she would let me stay out later with Roy," says Deason, who is now 57 and lives in North Carolina. "She just felt like I would be safe with him. . . . She thought he was good husband material."
Deason says that they dated off and on for several months and that he took her to his house at least two times. She says their physical relationship did not go further than kissing and hugging.
"He liked Eddie Rabbitt and I liked Freddie Mercury," Deason says, referring to the country singer and the British rocker.
She says that Moore would pick her up for dates at the mall or at college basketball games, where she was a cheerleader. She remembers changing out of her uniform before they went out for dinners at a pizzeria called Mater's, where she says Moore would order bottles of Mateus Rosé, or at a Chinese restaurant, where she says he would order her tropical cocktails at a time when she believes she was younger than 19, the legal drinking age.
"If Mother had known that, she would have had a hissy fit," says Deason, who says she turned 19 in May 1979, after she and Moore started dating.
Almost forty years later, should a sensible voter consider that matter in deciding how to vote? Also, does the apparent fact that Moore dated Deason in 1979 actually support the claim that he criminally molested Corfman that same year? Or does that assessment perhaps represent a bit of a moral stampede?
We're inclined to ask those questions, and quite a few others, for several reasons. Let's start with this:
We can think of a million reasons why we ourselves wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. But how odd! We've rarely seen those reasons discussed in the last month.
Instead, we've seen endless discussions of matters like Moore's dates with Deason. And uh-oh! As is typically the case at such times, those discussions have often been less than fully edifying. Some basic facts have been massaged to support the interpretation our upper-end press corps prefers.
Alas! When our press corps stages stampedes, our journalists tend to disappear actual facts while also inventing bogus facts. Consider the current matter:
As if by rule of law, pundits have refused to say that Moore "dated" Eason (and other young women in their late teenage years) in 1979. Instead, reporters and pundits routinely say that say that he "pursued" these young women.
This word choice builds an air of menace around these past events. It has also produced some extremely peculiar accounts of the accusation with which Moore stands charged.
The word "dated" has been disappeared. Beyond that, we're fairly sure we've never seen a single pundit mention the fact that Deason's mother enthusiastically supported this romance, seeing it as a possible route to marriage.
Deason's mother "thought he was good husband material!" As if by rule of law, this fact has been disappeared when pundits and reporters pretend to discuss this topic.
Nor was it just Deason's mother. In the original Post report, the Post quoted a second woman saying she dated Moore at that time, when she was just 17. This second woman, Debbie Wesson Gibson, said her mother was over the moon about the fact that Moore was asking her daughter out.
“I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world,” Gibson says her mother told her.
These women didn't find it strange that Moore was dating their daughters. But as is typical when pundits stage their group stampedes, our pundits have completely disappeared this fact about the attitudes of these young women's mothers.
At times like these, our reporters and pundits virtually always behave this way. It seems to be a cultural imperative.
Our view? As a general matter, we don't think it's a great idea for women as young as 19 to get married. Beyond that, we don't think it's a great idea, as a general matter, for women who are 19 to date or marry men who are 32.
That said, the average age of first marriage for women was still 20.3 as of 1970. (It's much higher now.) Beyond that, the union of a younger woman with an older fellow was a bit of a cultural ideal in American popular culture during the decades in which the mothers of these young women formed their ideas on such matters. And as any number of insulting Hollywood films suggested, these cultural views may have been especially prevalent in the South.
We regard those as interesting anthropological facts. We also think the current stampede about Moore's dating behavior in 1979 is an interesting anthropological event, one which sheds a lot of light on the habits, behaviors and capabilities of us modern liberals.
Good God! Over the past thirty-plus years, while Moore has been married to his wife, we liberals have displayed an astonishing level of political incompetence. Among other thing, we've displayed amazingly little facility for discussing matters of substance.
Our haplessness has known no bounds. This helps explain how the Republican Congress can be on the verge of passing the tax bill they are currently moving, even as we focus on Moore's past dating behavior.
We liberals! Despite our persistent claims of intellectual and moral brilliance, we never quite got around to explaining how the Social Security trust fund works. For that reason, large percentages of Americans were declaring their belief that Social Security "wouldn't be there for them" as of the mid-1990s.
We've never bothered explaining our nation's astonishing level of health care spending. For that reason, this remarkable looting continues, victimizing red and blue voters alike.
We don't know how to discuss the progress displayed in the public schools, nor do we seem to care about such matters. Meanwhile, we're so dumb that we've never been able to build a world in which the current GOP tax proposal would have been unimaginable on its face.
Above all else, we don't know how to talk to the people who vote against liberal candidates and oppose liberal proposals. We think of the character in Jim Sheridan's beautiful film, In America, who is losing his soul in the face of his grief about the death of his young son. At one point, he makes this speech:
JOHNNY: You know, I asked [God] a favor. I asked him to take me instead of him. And he took the both of us. And look what he put in my place!That character couldn't function at all. (Eventually, he is saved by the wisdom and persistence of his young daughter.)
I'm a fucking ghost. I don't exist.
I can't think. I can't laugh. I can't cry.
I can't feel!
That character couldn't function at all. That character was a great deal like us, except he possessed self-awareness in his despair and we modern liberals don't.
We modern liberals function extremely poorly. In our own view, this latest semi-stampede is a fascinating example of same.
Leigh Corfman accused Roy Moore of a very serious crime. Assuming her accusation is accurate, we're glad she did. We're glad she decided to push back against Moore's denials last week.
Leigh Corfman accused Moore of a serious crime. But Gloria Deason didn't.
We liberals, along with our mainstream pundits, can't seem to tell the difference. In our view, this helps explain why our large continental nation is currently coming apart.
Was Deason "second accuser in" against Moore? Was she an accuser at all?
We'd say that she was not. Tomorrow, we'll start a new award-winning series, in which we'll examine some cultural history of the land in which we all live.
As we offer this cultural history, we'll be waiting for the tax bill to pass, and perhaps for Moore to get elected. On the brighter side, the cultural history we'll be presenting will at least be interesting—an interesting distraction from our latest defeat or defeats.
We liberals are skilled at losing fights. It seems to us that this current matter helps show how we do it.
Starting tomorrow: The Parochials