The GOP Gets Less Strange, Moore Trumpy

Hoo boy!  I crack myself up with that title, which is totally original.  I laugh to keep from crying. Or laugh until I start crying.  Sometimes the crying is despair, sometimes amusement.  It’s tough to sort it out, tbqh.

Anyway, after last night’s runoff primary election in Alabama, the best-case scenario for the GOP — and by far the most likely one — is that the United States Senate will be blessed with the likes of… Roy Moore.

This is more a case of the incumbent, Luther Strange, losing because some suspect Alabama’s scandal-ridden governor appointed then-Attorney General Strange in hopes of (or, in the darkest gossip, in return for) light treatment.   Moore, once removed and once suspended from the bench by the state’s supreme court for not caring much about the law, had the backing of a core of social conservatives; the stink on Strange had others holding their noses while marking their ballots for Moore.  And these factors may have been compounded by a dislike for how Sen. Maj. Ldr. Mitch McConnell has been running things — or, to be more precise, not running them.

The irony is that, apart from making ridiculous comments for which his colleagues will be asked to answer by the Beltway media, Moore’s legacy would likely be blocking things rather than doing things.  For example, while Moore undoubtedly echoes fmr. Senator, now-AG Jeff Sessions in vociferously opposing illegal immigration, he revealed during the campaign he did not know what the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was.  Will he support a deal with Democrats Pres. Trump is trying to broker on the issue?  That we may have to ponder the answer helps explain why Trump was convinced to back the more reliable Strange.

Moore is the sort of guy who will claim that parts of Illinois and Indiana suffer under sharia law, at least until he’s called on it.  His career all points toward show horse, not work horse.  He is more likely to make it more difficult to move GOP legislation through the Senate.  There will probably be times when conservatives are glad of this, but he is an odd choice for voters angry at the Senate’s current sloth.

If Alabama Republicans think electing Moore will send a message to the Senate, consider that Senators like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain almost certainly will not change their behavior or votes if Moore blows into town.  That is not about “the swamp.”  That is about America being a big place and the GOP being a big tent.

Then again, before we entirely dismiss Alabama as lowercase strange, consider it as a microcosm for the Trump-era GOP.

Any number of pundits — from Ross Douthat to Dan McLaughlin — have generally expressed the idea that while today’s Left seeks to impose cultural solutions on political problems, the Trumpist Right seeks to impose political solutions on cultural problems.  This is close, but not quite right.

By choosing Trump — unable or unwilling to be fluent on policy — the GOP has chosen for the most part to rage about cultural problems but solve neither cultural or political problems (excepting perhaps judicial nominations and the administration’s welcome if temporary actions regarding campus kangaroo courts).  Moore will help keep the wheels of outrage turning, which is what at least a plurality of the GOP base wants right now.

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