I don’t want to jinx anything, but Stephen Moore’s chances of actually making it to the Federal Reserve are starting to look a bit dicey. As journalists have continued to comb through his back catalog of magazine columns and public appearances, they’ve churned up more and more outrageous and offensive tidbits, and collectively, they seem to be eating away at his support in Congress. Just this week, the New York Times reported that at a 2016 debate about the minimum wage, he said that the U.S. should nix many of its child labor laws. (He feels it’s important that young people should get work experience early.) “I’m a radical on this,” he said, in total sincerity. “I’d get rid of a lot of these child labor laws. I want people starting to work at 11, 12.”
This sentiment pops up from time to time among especially batty conservatives. Readers who are especially fond of political trivia might remember Newt Gingrich once made a similar argument during the 2012 Republican primary. (He thought kids should have the opportunity to work as janitorial assistants in public schools.) But it was not a great look then. It is still not a great look now, coming from a potential Fed nominee. (Trump previously said he intended to tap Moore for the central bank’s Board of Governors, but hasn’t officially done it yet.)
Moore’s image has already taken a beating thanks to revelations that he owes the government $75,000 in back taxes and penalties, was held in contempt of court for failing to pay alimony, and spent years as a pundit writing sexist dribble that he has since tried to defend as comedy. (He mocked women’s sports, criticized the idea of women serving in the military, downplayed the seriousness of women being sexually harassed by drunk frat guys on college campuses, and—while married—joked about his kid foiling efforts to pick up younger women, among other bits.) And many Republicans on the Hill seem to be getting tired of it. “His past writings are ridiculous,” Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst told reporters on Monday. “I’m not enthused about supporting him, let’s put it that way.” Richard Shelby, the powerful GOP senator from Alabama, is also making skeptical noises. Via Politico:
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he thought Moore would be an interesting pick for the Fed but added that he too has qualms about what he has said about women.
“I think everybody does,” he told reporters. “My wife is a professor, you know? She broke through a lot of ceilings and everything,” adding that he has a granddaughter who “thinks she can do anything.”
“I know him, but a lot of these things have come up about his taxes, about his child support and alimony, about things he’s written about women,” he said. He said those things would all be considered if he’s nominated. Shelby is a senior member of the Banking Committee, which would have jurisdiction over Moore’s nomination.
And remember, Mitt Romney has already hinted that he has qualms with Moore’s qualifications. (The man spent much of his life as conservative political advocate and pundit, co-founding the Club for Growth and writing editorials for the Wall Street Journal; he also lacks an actual economics Ph.D.) Point being, things aren’t looking great for ol’ Steve.
In related news, the White House has finally started going through Moore’s past writing, looking for any other bombs. Better late than never?
Update, April 30, 2019, 2:12 PM: Moore may be in even deeper trouble than I thought. About 10 minutes after I published this post, Politico posted an article with more cautious and critical comments from Republicans. “These stories that have come out recently will be a good test about what the support level is up here,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune, which sounds like a hint that Moore’s chances may be on the verge of an imminent collapse. “If you have Joni [Ernst] and other members of our conference … as affected by some of these stories as she was, we’ll get a sense of that pretty quickly.” An anonymous Republican senator was more blunt: “I don’t imagine he can get the votes.”
Update, April 30, 2019, 2:50 PM: Yeah, it looks like this ship has hit an iceberg.