That was close. Roy Moore almost won in Alabama. Thankfully, mercifully, he did not. And neither did Steve Bannon.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, center, looks at election returns with staff during an election-night watch party at the RSA activity center, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Be glad for Republicans that Roy Moore did not win. Be glad for America that Roy Moore did not win. Be glad for Alabama that Roy Moore did not win.
Be glad for unborn children that Roy Moore did not win.
The Republican party still has the majority in the Senate. That’s kind of important to remember. Depending on Al Franken, we may not even change the size of that majority for very long.
In exchange for this inconvenience, we have avoided putting into office the man who disastrously couldn’t decide whether or not he was dating 14-year-olds when he was in his 30s (and who can scarcely muster an objection to that idea), who believes (still) that Obama was born in Kenya, and who thinks we probably ought to dump all those silly amendments like the ones that abolished slavery, gave women the right to vote, and, oh yeah, not trivially the one that says you can’t run for President more than twice.
This is not an article about how bad Roy Moore is. The race is over, we have the future to discuss. But these reminders must be here, because we see everywhere Republicans who choose still not to face the reality of Roy. The truth is that Moore managed to say something awful or stupid nearly every time a microphone was put in front of his face. Some are blind to this because they like when he says things like “rah rah ten commandments monument” or “harumph elites McConnell.”
But they ignored when he said things like American families were stronger and happier back during slavery, or when he just took the law into his own hands.
He would have been a disaster. Not merely the GOP’s albatross but an anchor on the neck of every campaign. He would have been the face of the party as much as Trump, and reporters would hang on his every word. And his every word, as we’ve established, was insane and terrible.
As David French said last week, “it’s hard to imagine a worse ambassador for the cause of life than Roy Moore.” And not just ambassador, but given the above he could easily have tipped races and turned voters away from social conservative candidates and incumbents over the next two or so years. And where would the majority in the Senate be then?
As I say, this isn’t about running down loser Roy Moore. It’s not just about that. It’s also about running down the other loser.
Steve Bannon speaks in support of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore during a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Midland City, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Steve Bannon’s pitch, his argument for himself as a major influence, is that he knows what the voters really want to hear and he can get a win where other Republicans fear to tread. That’s the mythos he has attempted to create based off of the relatively minor success of Breitbart dot com and his time with the Trump campaign. The man who makes it happen. The guy with a direct line to the angry base who are just itching to stick it to the “libtards” and vote for the Republicans he blesses with his touch.
Bannon could not have been more all in Roy Moore. He threw every trick he has in his book at that race, which turns out to not be a very thick book. He preached about the elites. He opined and ranted. He picked fights with big names like Mitt Romney, he used the word “buddy” or “pal” or “brother” while pointing at the camera a lot. He waddled across stages in his shambling and shabby impersonation of masculine swagger. He talked Trump into robocalling for Moore. He framed this exactly as he framed the Trump campaign.
He played the “we’re not gonna take it” card and Alabamans did, in fact, say they wouldn’t. But it was Bannon and his ward they didn’t take. And thank goodness.
Bannon is involved in races around the country, and the case for his kingmaker abilities rested on his laurels from the Trump campaign. But here in Alabama, he’s got one in the loss column, and it’s a doozy. Because of Bannon, Donald Trump backed the loser in this single Senate race not once, but twice.
Do you hear that President Trump? He talked you into losing TWICE in the SAME RACE. And that didn’t have to happen.
Trump didn’t have to turn his Pensacola rally into a Moore rally. And he definitely didn’t have to do the robocall. He could have stayed out and, considering what the exits tell us, it probably wouldn’t have changed the totals on Tuesday. Certainly, it doesn’t appear it would have changed the outcome. Moore still lost, after all.
But Trump made the pitch and he made it heavy. This is my guy, he said. America needs him, he said. You’d have to be brain dead not to see that Bannon pulled him in as a big gun. He probably argued that this would bolster future MAGA candidates (chosen by him of course) and therefore further empower Trump and his agenda. And obviously, the President bought it.
He should ask for a refund.
Steve Bannon’s power as sage and winner of races depended on his being a winner. Not some or most of the time, but all of the time. Instead, he has delivered a spectacular failure in a deep red state and made Jeff Sessions’ old seat unthinkably turn blue. That is about as effective a way to take the shine off of something as ever I’ve seen.
Sure, Bannon will argue (and is arguing, along with Hannity) that McConnell and the NRSC refused to support Moore and blame it on them. But aside from the absurdity of those two entities supporting the guy who was literally running specifically against them by name (and referring to them as the “forces of evil”… I’m very not kidding), the fact is that being opposed by McConnell and the NRSC is supposed to be an asset for Steve Bannon.
That’s his wheelhouse, isn’t it? The man who fights the establishment? The “elites”? The Deep State™? Being opposed by McConnell should have been a feature, not a bug. Trying to blame that now for his own failure is … well, it’s sad.
There is blame to go around earlier, sure. Before the race was down to Moore and Jones, the party screwed up in Alabama. I know there are many sitting here itching to bring that up. But that is a long topic for another article.
For today, Roy Moore is not a Republican Senator, and that is a very good thing. It’s good for Republicans, it’s good for America, and it’s good for all of you. And it’s even better that the bloom is off Bannon’s rose.
There is a tough election year ahead. To maintain the GOP’s control of government will be a struggle. But it will be just a bit less of a struggle now. So yes … *whew*.
P.S. By the way, three cheers for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Decency). You the man.