By Alan W. Cohen
November 15, 2017
As commentators like Sean Hannity demand explanations for so called inconsistencies in the statements of Judge Roy Moore in defense of recent allegations, it would serve them best to understand that they are making the same mistake as those that wish to destroy Civil War monuments or to disregard George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as slave holders. I am an amatuer historian, author and former attorney who, in my research and writings, had to force myself to look back at the past, especially in my area of family law, with the proper perspective, and see the world from their point of view.
It’s called Zeitgeist. It is the common mistake in looking at a situation in today’s perspective rather than in the context of the times it occurred. Let me begin by saying that I am no fan of Judge Roy Moore. I would have preferred Mo Brooks, but I live in Missouri, and not Alabama, and I have no say. The first time I heard Judge Moore speak was on the Mark Levin program before the primary. Like many of his listeners, and I think Mark himself, Judge Moore came off as an inarticulate boob, married to a past that I cannot relate. The first time I ever heard of Judge Roy Moore was when he challenged the federal authority to demand he remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse. At the time, I accepted the meme that he was just a crazy old man. Looking back now, in his challenge of federal authority over local rule, we could almost say that he was a man ahead of his time as federal overreach has, shall we say, reached epidemic levels.
Zeitgeist has also reached epidemic levels in America today. So let’s look at what appears to be inconsistent statements and put them into the appropriate context. This was the 1970s in a rural state. It was a time not far removed from Elvis Presley picking out his bride at the tender age of 14 or even Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 14-year-old cousin. But that is hardly the point. This was a time when parents could not wait to marry off their daughters to the most eligible bachelor, for their marriage meant wealth and comfort, not just for her, but for the entire family. Roy Moore was the Beatles in Alabama. He was a veteran. He was a Christian. He was smart, successful and had a bright future. Parents of young girls were probably throwing them at him and begging him to choose them as their wives. Think Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. In most of America, up until and perhaps through the 1960s, it was common for girls to marry straight out of high school. Their entire future was bent on their choice of husband. And they had only one shot, as divorce was social suicide and widowhood might have been even worse. For those want to bes, wealth and power was, and, has always been, quite alluring, and Mrs. Roy Moore would have all of those trappings.
Roy Moore graduated from high school in the tiny town of Attalia, Alabama, in 1965, apparently unencumbered and unattached. He attended West Point and, upon graduation, was a company commander to a military police unit in Vietnam. After his service, in 1974, he be began law school at the University of Alabama. Still apparently without a steady girlfriend, he started his career as an assistant prosecutor in 1977. If he were then looking for a wife, the commodities would have been picked over and his best chance for a quality spouse would have come from those that were of soon to be marrying age, or just turned marrying age. Remember Bye Bye Birdie for a moment. In an era when most girls married out of high school, it was their goal to, in the word of the song, pick out a boy and train him. That picking out would be done before the age of 16 and the training would have been in full force. Roy Moore escaped this fate, but also missed his best chance of finding a life mate.
Thus, after graduating from law school, Roy Moore would have had a hard time finding a suitable mate, especially if was looking for a woman who could match his intellect. When he completed law school, less than 20 percent of women graduated from college nationwide, probably fewer that came from Alabama. Seven years after his graduation from law school, in 1985, Roy Moore married then 24-year-old old Kayla Kisor. He was 38. Although the length of their courtship is unknown, Kayla was a former model and runner up to both Miss Alabama and Miss Alabama World. A college graduate herself, she come from a politically powerful Alabama family. This match illustrates his star status, as well as his value as a mate. All of proper Alabama would have approved. And, if history is any guide, Kayla would have been the driving force in his political career, and would remain so today. Seven years after their marriage, Roy Moore became Judge Roy Moore of the 16th Judicial Circuit Court. The rest is, they say, is history.
So let’s look at this from in the context of Roy Moore’s explanation. From today’s perspective, especially given his inarticulate nature, it seems inconsistent and even confusing. But when he said it was not common practice of him to date a girl of 17, it would have depended on the situation with her parents. Three of the women that came out early last week told the Washington Post reporter that Roy Moore was perfect gentleman, and he said that he would not date them without the permission of their parents. This statement is consistent with the times, as opposed to some commentators who describe the behavior as disgusting. For those, it is important to remember the times. This is not Bill Clinton exposing himself to Paula Jones. This is a man who is the most eligible bachelor around, a man who didn’t need to find girls. He was inundated with them.
This brings me to the two accusers of assault. If a vulture like Gloria Allred is involved, we immediately doubt its veracity. But let’s also look at the circumstances of then assistant prosecuting attorney Roy Moore. If he was indeed the most eligible bachelor, why would he have any interest in a 14-year-old when so many adult women were more than willing to attach themselves to him? Despite his pretentious nature, he was in the service and was certainly no virgin. This was a time when it was acceptable for public officials to engage with those in the oldest profession. And it’s not like Moore was a rock star and was so stoned he couldn’t tell the difference in the age of his groupie. But the strange thing is that this first accuser found herself with Roy Moore not once, but twice. Was there more context to that story? Seeing your life 40 years back is hardly a clear event, and easily subject to suggestion. Was she really 14? Did her parents hold her out as older than she was just to make him interested? It’s altogether possible. This would not excuse the context of the sexual touching, but that, in itself, makes little self. If he were a pervert, would it really have stopped with clothes on? If he was a pervert, wouldn’t there be scores of women coming out ala Harvey Weinstein?
The second accuser appears to be high school student, and her allegations just don’t seem credible given the timing and her choice of counsel. She makes these claims at a time that people are more than willing to believe the statements of any accuser, especially when the target is so hot for the taking. Yet, as Mark Levin had said, if any man had touched my daughter in that way, given the age differences, and even if I had lived in that era, he would either suffer my personal wrath or that of the law. In rural Alabama, perhaps a shotgun might have been that tool. Either way, it would not have been silent, even if were just the quiet whispers of polite society. Roy Moore was not Ted Kennedy, or even Bill Clinton. Everyone in Democrat politics knew of their antics and measured them against what they could gain for the party. Judge Roy Moore has been public life almost 40 years and has been one of America’s most controversial figures. Yet, up until last week, there was never a small town rumor of these claims. I agree with Mark Levin that the timing of the story is suspicious and certainly came from opposition research, and not good investigative reporting. It certainly is not as clear as Mitch McConnell and the Swamp want it to be, especially when you eliminate the Zeitgeist and give it historical perspective.
It is up to the people of Alabama to measure his past and forthrightness against these recent accusations and to judge for themselves. That was Sean Hannity’s opinion up until yesterday. The people of Alabama know him best. Again, he would not be my choice, but it is high time that we just stopped regurgitating and started listening to the only opinions that count. They will make their decision on election day.
Alan W. Cohen is a blogger, retired family law attorney, and author. His most recent books, Private Vows: The Case for Ending State Regulation of Marriage and Divorce (2017) and America Solved: A New Family for the 21st Century (2015) are available on Amazon.
Some Previous blogs: