00:43 - Source: CNN
Johnson defends Moore's controversial image
Washington CNN  — 

Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Republican Senate runoff on Tuesday makes it very likely that he will be joining the world’s greatest deliberative body sometime in early 2018.

Between now and then, his soon-to-be colleagues need to come up with some better answers when questions arise about Moore’s views – up to and including his ongoing support for the Barack Obama “birther” movement and his insistence that Sharia law is in place in some communities in Illinois and Indiana.

Witness Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s interview Wednesday morning on CNN’s “New Day.” Here’s the key exchange between Johnson and Alisyn Camerota:

CAMEROTA: “You know he said lots of controversial things, that President Obama is a Muslim, 10 Commandments need to be in the statehouse. What do you think of those two things?”

JOHNSON: “Well Alisyn, no two people agree 100% of the time. Not by a longshot. So again, we have a pretty broad spectrum of opinion and ideology serving in our Republican conferences, certainly serving in Congress. So, you just deal with individuals as they are. I have found coming here to Washington, DC, there’s an awful lot of stereotypes of individuals. What exactly – how the press portrays them is not necessarily the individual they are. I never met Judge Moore. I am looking forward to meeting him and hoping we can work together to address these serious challenges facing America.”

Um, ok.

Here’s the thing. Johnson is right – no two people do agree 100% of the time. But that’s not the point! Not even close.

Facts are not opinions. Opinions are not facts. We would do well not to conflate the two.

It is a fact that Barack Obama was born in the United States. It is not a fact that Sharia law is in place in communities in Indiana and Illinois.

See? Simple!

One more nit to pick with Johnson’s answer to Alisyn. The idea that Moore’s views are somehow the result of “how the press portrays” him is ridiculous.

Roy Moore is the one who installed and then refused to remove the 10 Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building. Roy Moore is the one who, as the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, ordered his employees not to issue same-sex marriage licenses even after gay marriage was made legal by the Supreme Court. Roy Moore was the one who said last month that he didn’t believe Obama was a natural-born US citizen. (Last month!)

Yes, the media reported on all of these stories. But Moore said each and every word. Roy Moore made Roy Moore, not the media.

Johnson’s awkward – and, candidly, bad – answer on Moore is likely the first of many from Senate Republicans as they seek to come to grips with what it means to welcome someone who has said what Moore has said and believes what Moore believes into their ranks. Buckle up.