Alabama and Trump

Alan Zendell, December 13, 2017

Yesterday was a great day for America. We have every reason to celebrate today. Alabamans who disdained being told what to do by pundits and politicians from elsewhere apparently took the words of two of their native sons to heart. Richard Shelby told voters not to vote for Roy Moore, but to write in some other Republican, and the number of write-in votes actually exceeded Doug Jones’ margin of victory. And retired NBA star Charles Barclay implored Alabama’s voters to not make the state look stupid to the rest of the country. Shelby and Barclay are not welcome in the Moore home, today.

But while we’re celebrating, let’s not lose touch with reality. First, Alabama’s Secretary of State has not certified Jones’ victory yet, and Moore hasn’t conceded. You might write that off as Moore being either a jerk or a sore loser, but keep in mind that he has a lot of powerful friends who are judges and lawyers, (including as least one Jewish lawyer if his wife is to be believed,) and if we’ve learned anything about Roy Moore in the last couple of months it’s that nothing is beneath him. So who knows what he’s cooking up in his little mind? It’s doubtful that he can reverse the result of the election, but he may know enough about legal delaying tactics to keep Jones from being seated in the Senate for a while.

No matter what Moore does, Jones can’t be sworn in until January. That means he can’t affect the Republican tax bill or the negotiations over keeping the government open in 2018. And when he finally takes his seat, the Republicans will still hold a 51-49 majority, which means it will take at least two Republicans with consciences to stop Trump’s mad dash to change the country for the worse.

If I seem to be throwing cold water on your happiness today, I don’t mean to. I’m actually very positive about the likely impact of Jones’ victory. Senator Jeff Flake said everything that needed to be said in a two-word tweet: “Decency won.” Yes it did, and if I were Donald Trump I’d be damn nervous today.

Yesterday’s election continued the anti-Trump sentiment that gave the Democrats striking victories in Virginia and several state houses last month. But more importantly it showed that when properly motivated the opposition can get out the votes, making it clear that 2016 was an aberration. African-American voters who stayed home last year came out in large number in Alabama, and virtually every vote cast by an African-American woman went for Jones, against Moore and Trump. And while (inexplicably) only 35% of white women voted for Jones, that was more than twice the percentage who voted for Hillary Clinton last year.

That bodes ill for both the Republican Party and for Donald Trump. The message the president should take from this is that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated by the women of America, and more and more men are supporting them. Nationally, Republicans look pretty bad today, having waffled over support for Roy Moore. It’s clear to every female voter that their initial disdain for Moore was motivated by political expediency rather than a sincere rejection of this man who would have set Alabama back 150 years if he were allowed to. It’s equally clear that when the Republican leadership chose to remain silent against Steve Bannon and Trump’s outright support for Moore, they hurt their brand in the eyes of independent women voters, and my guess is that the damage is irreparable.

It should be clear to our president that even in the reddest state in the country, a sexual predator cannot hide behind empty denials in the face of charges by credible alleged victims. With nearly twenty women now feeling energized to go after him for what he did to them in the past, with new precedents being set as powerful people in and out of government who have committed similar acts are being forced out, and with the Congressional opposition now clamoring for a full-fledged ethics investigation of the president’s actions, Mr. Trump’s days in office may be numbered. And whether he stays or goes his effectiveness in getting things done has been mortally wounded.

Republicans of conscience who have been disgusted with his behavior and his lack of moral leadership may view the Moore debacle as the last straw. And if that’s not enough for them to abandon this president, the very real fear of a political bloodbath in the 2018 elections should be motivation enough. No one wants a toxic albatross around his neck when trying to win votes.

Today, to make matters worse for Mr. Trump, the Republicans’ attempts to intimidate Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president’s involvement with Russia fell flat. The blatant attempt to influence an FBI investigation for political gain will not help his cause.

If I were Donald Trump I’d be worried as hell, today.

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