Could an Apology Help Roy Moore’s Senate Campaign?

I usually write about public apologies, but this week I’m thinking about an apology that hasn’t happened: what if Roy Moore offered a public apology for his past transgressions? Could that save his Senate campaign?

Several women have come forward in the last week to accuse Roy Moore of sexual misconduct decades ago. Judge Moore has denied the allegations but many do not believe him, and some Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are calling on Moore to withdraw from the campaign.

Could a good apology turn this around? Or, could it have, had he apologized after the first accusation went public last week?

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat speculated in a tweet Monday that it could. He even proposed the outlines of the apology:

“‘Before I was married I was a sinner and a creep. I beg the young woman’s forgiveness. It was decades ago, and I ask you to judge me on the good husband and father and grandfather I’ve become.’ Etc”

I think Moore’s apology would need to go further. He would need to apologize also for his silence about this for decades, that allowed these women to suffer privately. Acknowledging the impact of his sins on their lives would be a sign that he “gets it.” We might also appreciate hearing something like, “I thank God every day for his forgiveness, and ask God every day for the grace to conform my behavior to His will.” If he’s doing anything else to hold himself accountable, it’d be good to mention that too.

He should apologize only if he did it, and if he’s sorry. Even so, an apology now might not salvage his campaign. But it still might be a good thing to do.


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