Roy Moore, to be generous, doesn’t deserve to be a United States senator. He’s a public figure so extreme, so offensive, so off-the-deep-end, that to even picture Moore acquiring senatorial power is beyond the imagination.
Political compromise and equality under the law don’t register for the former judge, who was removed twice over the last 13 years as the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court. The first time, he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the grounds of the state’s judicial building. The second time, he ordered judges in Alabama to stop granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples — defying federal court orders.
Moore doesn’t like gays or lesbians, and he isn’t ashamed to let people know it. “Homosexual conduct should be illegal,” Moore told radio show host Bill Press in 2005. Later in the interview, he essentially compared homosexuality to bestiality, telling Press they are both outside the limits of America’s moral founding and are thus unacceptable and indecent. Moore has also suggested that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a response from God to America’s moral decay.
He should be inducted into the Truthers, not into the Senate.
Moore doesn’t need to worry.The renegade jurist’s heavy baggage doesn’t appear to be a problem for Republican primary voters in Alabama. Fifty-six percent of them pulled the lever for Moore Tuesday over incumbent Sen. Luther Strange. Moore’s high name recognition across the state and his hero status in fundamentalist Christian circles ensured he would eke out a victory. That he won by double digits over the Republican establishment’s pick was a stinging rebuke to that party’s leadership. Not even $15 million from deep-pocketed GOP donors could rescue Strange’s short Senate tenure.
When all is said and done, Roy Moore’s win may have less to do with his policies or the weakness of Strange as a candidate and more to do with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s popularity. McConnell wasn’t running, but he was still a central cast member in the race. A vote against Luther Strange was a de facto vote of no confidence in McConnell from the reddest voters in one of the country’s reddest states.
The senior senator from Kentucky, a mercurial and shrewd Washington player who usually has the power to push Republican priorities into law, is losing his good reputation — not amongst the senior echelons of what Steve Bannon describes as the “permanent political class,” but rather within the conservative base whose voters look at the GOP leadership today and sees a collection of corporatist snakes and corrupt careerists. As the most powerful man in the Senate and someone who has been at the top of the GOP totem pole for over a decade, McConnell is to the far right what Carmelo Anthony is to the New York Knicks: a big disappointment.
According to an August Politico/Morning Consult poll, Republican voters were shown to be more likely to oppose than support a candidate for Congress who backed McConnell. While the survey didn’t explore the reasons why that might be the case, it boils down to an angry GOP electorate that’s pissed about Congress’s poor record of accomplishment – Obamacare, infrastructure, tax cuts, government spending, border security, and the national debt have still not been addressed. Moore tapped into that frustration and ran as the anti-McConnell, a vessel through which ordinary conservatives, nationalists and Trump loyalists can stand on the Senate floor and make life miserable for establishment Republicans.
If it’s any consolation to Luther Strange, this race wasn’t about you. It was about your boss.