Judge Roy Moore Speaks!
A Christian right presidential run creaks a half-inch forward.
Chatterbox yesterday had the honor and privilege to interview Judge Roy Moore, the Alabama chief justice who got fired for refusing to remove a marble Decalogue from his courtroom. Moore's firing was entirely just, given his defiance of a federal court ruling undergirded by a half-century of Supreme Court decisions and the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. Installing Moore's brand of religious fanaticism in the Oval Office would be ruinous to the country and dangerous to the world. But this is no time to dwell on such trivialities. What's important is that Moore is thinking of running for president on a third-party ticket. He is a charismatic figure who has the potential to siphon a great many Christian right votes away from the pitiful Sodomites now occupying the White House. George W. Bush talks a good game, but can he even name all Ten Commandments? (Too bad the president is a teetotaler. This would be a great bar bet.)
It's time for Democrats to stop shaking their fists at Ralph Nader and to start flattering and cajoling Moore. They need this man to run for president. Bill Clinton should encourage Moore in one of his famous late-night phone calls. Barbra Streisand should offer to sing "Evergreen" at Moore's church. Bob Shrum, Kerry's political consultant, should pledge to cut Moore's commercials free of charge, assuming the Federal Election Commission will allow it. Wealthy Kerry supporters should pool their money to buy Moore a Tyndale Bible. Or is that bribery? All right then, how about a box of Godiva chocolates, with a note attached: "You keep giving 'em hell!—G. Soros." Democratic members of Congress should jostle one another over who will get to carry Moore's bags during his next visit to Washington. Let the love-bombing begin!
Chatterbox sees a definite progression in Moore's statements about whether he'll run. In the March 1 Weekly Standard, a story headlined, "No Moore in 2004" reported, "Moore emphatically denies that he will challenge Bush this year, 'period.' " Chatterbox thought he smelled a rat in the Weekly Standard's failure to provide a direct quote. But the article's author, Katherine Mangu-Ward, yesterday provided Chatterbox with Moore's precise quote:
Q: So you are not going to challenge Bush this year?
A: No. I'm working on getting my [chief justice] position back, and that is consuming my time now, this year. But in the long term, I think it is improper to limit your future.
The Weekly Standard told the truth. Moore really did say he wasn't going to run. Chatterbox extends an apology to Ms. Mangu-Ward.
But our story doesn't end there. On March 7, Moore said this to David D. Kirkpatrick of the New York Times:
Q: Some people have speculated that you might run for office this year for the Constitution Party, a conservative group.
A: I don't rule out anything. But I have no plans to do that at this time.
Same person. Much more equivocal answer.
Three days later, Moore said this to Chatterbox:
Q: Judge Moore, you've been traveling the country giving a lot of speeches under the auspices of the Constitution Party, and you've created a lot of speculation that you are planning to run for president on a third party ticket. Are you going to run for president?
A: Well, first, I have not been speaking under the auspices of the Constitution Party. I have spoken to several Constitution Party events, but I've also spoken to colleges and churches and other groups across the country because I have been speaking about the First Amendment acknowledgment of God in our country. And I have no plans at this time to run. That could change [italics Chatterbox's]. But I have made no plans to run for any office right now.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.