Morris: The GOP’s Moral Knot
by Leo Morris
This is a quiet, unassuming little state, isn’t it? While scandals from Washington bubble and froth in the social media septic tank, accusations of sexual malpractice against two of the most powerful Indiana GOP politicians drip like slow leaks too inconsequential to bother with.
We can only conclude that our journalists are too lazy to go out and dig up the juicy rumors with which to flesh out the tantalizing innuendos or else have determined that Hoosiers have little appetite for sleaze. In either case, the impatiently vicarious among us are left wanting.
I hasten to point out at the beginning – in the strongest possible terms – that I have no idea whether the accusations against Attorney General Curtis Hill or House Speaker Brian Bosma are true or false. I know little about either man other than their official actions as reported in the press, and nothing about their sins except that they are claimed on the basis of allegations so far without evidence to substantiate them.
That being the case, I can only adopt a wait-and-see attitude and would urge all fair-minded Hoosiers to do likewise. Let’s wait for the evidence and try to determine what the facts are. Then we can decide what to think about the accused and, more important, what to do about them.
But members of the Republican establishment clearly aren’t open to such advice. They made up their minds from the beginning, and, it appears to those of us just casually following the stories, in a most peculiar manner. To recap:
- Hill is accused by four women — a legislator and three legislative staffers — of getting drunk at a party in March and groping them. He denies inappropriately touching anyone.
- Bosma is accused of hiring an attorney to intimidate a woman into silence who says she had a consensual sexual encounter with him more than 25 years ago. He denies the encounter and says he hired the attorney to protect his reputation.
Almost from the moment of the allegations, Republicans denounced Hill. Many of them, up to and including Gov. Eric Holcomb, called on him to resign. They snubbed him at a big GOP dinner, leaving his name off a list of sponsors on the evening’s program despite a hefty contribution.
They have been much more understanding of the speaker. Holcomb rejected a call from Democrats to support an investigation of Bosma, The Indianapolis Star reports, and more than 60 Republican House members and candidates issued a letter of support for their longtime speaker. He was warmly received at the dinner.
Those of us on the outside looking in must choose from among three possibilities, all of them troubling to one degree or another.
One, that the GOP considers the accusations against Hill more serious than the one against Bosma, drunken groping being worse than sober intimidating.
Two, that Republicans are privy to some knowledge convincing them of Hill’s guilt and Bosma’s innocence. This would be information they seem not willing to share with the public or, presumably, the press.
And three, the most troubling, that the unfortunate practice of being suspiciously selective about which unsubstantiated accusations to believe is not just a byproduct of our partisan warfare. Bosma is a great buddy of members of the GOP elite. Hill has been very much on the outs with a lot of them, most notably the governor. Never waste an opportunity to boost your friends or throw your enemies to the wolves.
Again, I make no more claim of wisdom about the possibilities than I do knowledge of guilt or innocence. I’m just making observations I think a lot of other people are also making based on the limited information we have.
Perhaps there will be more. It has been suggested that some Republicans, having no other way to punish Curtis Hill, might take the step unprecedented in Indiana history of seeking to impeach him. One of most influential Republicans involved in such a momentous decision would be Brian Bosma.
So we might get our circus after all. Most peculiar.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is this year’s winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.