In its lead editorial yesterday morning the Wall Street Journal laid out what’s really at stake in the establishment’s jihad against the people of Alabama who elected Judge Roy Moore to represent them as the Republican nominee in the upcoming Senate race, and it has nothing to do with decency or standards of behavior. In fact, it has almost nothing to do with Roy Moore himself.
For the swamp creatures of both the Republican and Democratic persuasions, what’s really unfolding is a battle between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Steve Bannon, a reenactment of the battle they fought and lost against President Donald Trump:
The Bannonites… want to defeat the existing majority — a conservative majority by any historical standard — mainly to show that they can depose Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Without any consciousness of irony, the Journal describes the Bannonites in the same terms as it described candidate Trump’s supporters. They are an insurgency comprised of “cranks and outliers… a political fringe that will always find a way to lose.” Only this is the losing fringe that year ago won big time to give the Republicans the Presidency, the Senate, and the House! Still in a state of shock over this unexpected and unintended win, the vaunted “conservative majority” has been unable to enact any of its legislative agenda. Not health reform, not tax reform, not immigration reform. Nada.
Everything President Trump has accomplished to date — and his accomplishments have been considerable — has been in spite of his Republican colleagues rather than with their help.
What puts the Bannonites on the fringe, says the Journal, is their agenda of “trade protectionism and slashing immigration.” Only the sixty million Trump voters call it negotiating fairer trade deals that will see the wages of lower-income Americans rise, even as they benefit capital growth, and designing a more rational immigration system that will benefit the Americans and legal immigrants who are already here. The alternative is importing class immobility and an ever-growing income gap, a social inequality that’s both immoral and unsustainable.
The Journal asks voters to draw from the “Moore mess” the lesson that “their future lies with nominating candidates who want to achieve substantive policy goals, such as serious reform of the tax code or confirming originalist judges.” Problem is that candidates have to get elected first, and the candidates blessed by Mitch McConnell and his swamp creatures haven’t been able to do so. And those that have been in the legislature for years don’t seem to be interested in doing any of these things.
Except for that insurgent Donald Trump who’s been busy getting his originalist judges confirmed. Having submitted 105 individuals to vacancies on appeals courts, district courts, and U.S. attorney positions, Trump finally succeeded in lighting a fire under McConnell to speed up the confirmation process in the last few weeks. “They’re waiting forever on line,” said the President. “It shouldn’t happen that way. It’s not right, it’s not fair.”
Roy Moore is only a pawn in this Game of Thrones. The allegations against him are laughable. “We do not want to live in a country or political culture in which every accusation of sexual misconduct is automatically accepted as true,” piously intones the Journal before going on to automatically accept them as true, after a desultory nod to Moore’s right to challenge his accusers “for acts alleged to have happened more than 30 years ago.” Mitch McConnell had no qualms about convicting Judge Moore on the spot, however, the constitutional presumption of innocence be damned. “I believe the women, yes,” he said. This is about as courageous as declaring “I don’t like Nazis.” And as disgustingly superficial and manipulative.
Even despite the one woman who, under Gloria Allred’s tutelage, claimed that Moore attempted to rape her, the Journal could not bring itself to use a stronger term than “sexual misconduct” to describe the allegations against Moore. That’s a very broad term. It can refer to any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. One doesn’t usually know whether or not behavior is welcome until after the fact. And what qualifies as sexual behavior has changed a lot in the thirty years. Today, reciting the old the nursery rhyme, “Georgie Porgie pudding and pie/kissed the girls and made them cry,” could get your 7-year- old arrested as a dangerous sexual predator.
Moore’s credibility dropped below the level of survivability for the Journal, however, when he denied knowing one of his accusers “though he signed her yearbook.” Oh, please! Do you remember everybody whose high school yearbook you signed?
“He’s [Moore] obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate,” said the capo di tutti capi of the Republican Party who once praised a senator who left a young intern to die at the bottom of a pond near Chappaquiddick Island. “Kennedy was someone who could separate the personal from the political,” said McConnell without any apparent sense of irony.
Obviously, Mitch McConnell and his brothers and sisters in the swamp will “separate the personal from the political” for anyone who doesn’t represent a threat to their power. They lost their fight against Trump, but they will keep fighting, even if it’s bad for the country.