No, Democrats: Alabama doesn’t mean you’re on a roll…

And congrats to the winner. We don't have to look at the #fakecowboy any more...

And congrats to the winner. We don’t have to look at the #fakecowboy any more…

An old colleague who now works in Washington, John O’Connor, reported this this morning:

I couldn’t help replying, “Well, yeah… if the other guy is a child molester…”

John followed that up with:

And here’s what I had to say to that…

Yeah, but we’re extrapolating from a sample of two, and the circumstances of the two are miles apart. Show me a few more Virginias, and you have a trend…

Democrats like Schumer are desperate for good news. They want the augurs to tell them that they’re going to win big in 2018. This grasping at hope can be seen in SC as well:

And while Democrats are looking to win, the rest of us — independents, and rational, normal Republicans — are hoping to see the national nightmare of Trump come to an end.

So there’s satisfaction, relief, in the Alabama results. But cause for celebration? No. The nation dodged a bullet. A terrible thing did not happen.

But just barely. Good Lord, look at what lost: Trump’s man was an absolute nightmare of a candidate, regardless of your political implications. We have good reason to believe he’s a child molester. He wants to do away with every amendment after the 10th, which means (and he knows this is what it means — he’s a lawyer, and a former judge, as incredible as it may be that he ever passed a course in law school) doing away with the amendments that freed the slaves and guaranteed equal treatment before the law. He seems incapable of opening his mouth without saying something shockingly idiotic.

In a sane world, he should have been creamed; he shouldn’t have received 10 percent of the vote. But he almost got 50.

It’s a bit early to say Trumpism is dead. Yes, we should all be happy that a horrible candidate lost. And to be a little more upbeat, we can even take comfort from the fact that a decent guy seems to have won (I liked that Joe Biden chose to focus on the positive, without making too much of it.)

But the country’s not out of the woods. All we’re seeing is flickers of light through the trees…

68 thoughts on “No, Democrats: Alabama doesn’t mean you’re on a roll…

  1. Mark Stewart

    Something like 27% of white men voted for Jones last night in AL (and 63% of white women voted for Moore). Staggering on both counts.

    Jones won, but white Alabamians didn’t do anything to redeem themselves; though they should thank their lucky stars “their” clown didn’t win the Senate seat.

    1. Bill

      ’30 percent of the Alabama voters were black, a higher percentage than in either of the presidential elections Barack Obama won’

    2. Bill

      ’30 percent of the Alabama voters were black, a higher percentage than in either of the presidential elections Barack Obama won.’

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Sure, you can play it, but you’ll lose the hand. A white race card is worth about a deuce. Or maybe the joker, since most people will laugh a white person who thinks he’s got it tough being white right out of the game.

        Unless you’re playing with a bunch of Trump voters. They think it’s an ace…

    3. JesseS

      That discredits those who didn’t go to the polls as a vote of no confidence for Moore in the only “hot” election this year. In a solid red state I have to take that as an act of conscience.

      Yes, they didn’t vote for “your” guy and it’s a smack in the face for all of your redeeming values. They didn’t vote to support equality, decency, fairness, or bother to show that they even remotely care about those things –they are monsters, but I can’t help but get the feeling it falls into the logical trap of tribalism. They stepped out and let those who didn’t have conflicted consciences make the decision for them. They “Put it in God’s hands for now” and trusted that the best would happen. What would the world be like now if more people voted “no confidence” in the last presidential election?

      Anyway, after the results came in I popped into a bar for a coke and to listen to the opinions. Someone said something I never would have imagined in a million years. “Moore lost because of all the RINO voters!”

      That instantly gave me a headache. We now have RINO voters? It’s bad enough that we have candidates who aren’t true Scotsmen; now the voters are fakes?

  2. Bryan Caskey

    It’s also good that a Democrat won in a deep-red state, just like it’s good that a Republican won in a deep-blue state years back (Scott Brown in MA). It shows that elections aren’t entirely foregone conclusions where everyone votes for their tribal member.

    It’s good for the long-term health of the GOP that Moore lost. It should send a message to the party leaders that the voters aren’t simply going to accept anyone who is put before them. The lesson the GOP should learn is that they are going to have to find better candidates. Moore was an awful candidate, and the consistently GOP electorate of Alabama found him to be unsatisfactory. I wouldn’t equate Moore’s loss to people supporting Jones’ views.

    The GOP picked a guy singularly unqualified to win the general election. I would hesitate to extrapolate this election’s results very much…unless the GOP keep running people this unqualified.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Right. And I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment: “It’s also good that a Democrat won in a deep-red state, just like it’s good that a Republican won in a deep-blue state years back….”

      Unfortunately, these were Senate races. No gerrymandered districts. You won’t see happy results like that in House races, because the legislatures (mostly Republican) have made sure of that.

      And it IS good for the GOP that Moore lost….

    2. bud

      The GOP picked a man singularly unqualified. OK. And how does he differ from other recent Republicans? The whole party is a cesspool of slime. Good to see one lose. But I’m sure the party of Trump will persevere.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “The GOP picked a man [Roy Moore] singularly unqualified. OK. And how does he differ from other recent Republicans?”

        Name me a “recent Republican” and I’ll tell you.

  3. Doug Ross

    The reality is that incumbents usually win. This means that any real change will take a LONG time. It may flip 52-48 in the Senate but until we can get rid of the McConnell’s, Schumers , etc. don’t expect any real change.

    1. Doug Ross

      Plus Trump (or Pence) will be in office for three more years… even if Democrats take control of the House and Senate, are they going to be able to craft veto-proof bills? Doubtful. That’s why Democrats need to focus on who the candidate will be in 2020. They’ve got nobody now under the age of 70 on deck.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        They can focus all they want; it won’t change the fact. It’ll take years for anyone we haven’t yet heard of to get in position to be considered…

        Not for you, of course, but most of us value experience. Where are the up-and-coming senators, or more to the point, governors? I’m not seeing them. So Democrats can focus until their eyes cross; all they have in the bullpen for 2020 is Joe.

        Kamala Harris? A rookie. Kirsten Gillibrand? I haven’t seen anything good yet. Of course, they’re both babes, as Obama will tell you, but we’re not allowed to notice that now.

        I wouldn’t consider Elizabeth Warren, 68, for a second.

        Note I haven’t named a single man yet…

  4. Bart

    First of all, I won’t judge anyone in Alabama for how they voted. It is their state and up to the voters to decide and last night, they decided but not without a real dog fight. When all is taken into account, if not for the write-in voters, Roy Moore would have probably won the election. Admit it is a head scratcher that so many did vote for Moore but in his state, his wide appeal cannot be ignored. Think about how much effort it took to defeat Moore and only by the thinnest of margins. Every heavyweight that could be recruited to help Jones was necessary. Entrenchment is a powerful tool in politics and Roy Moore has been solidly entrenched in Alabama for decades. If not for the reports about his penchant for young girls, no contest for the Republicans, a double digit victory for Moore.

    But, I am not displeased with the Jones victory. On a personal level, I believe Moore exemplifies the old saying, “All hat, no cattle”.

    Prediction: Sessions will resign or be fired by Trump before the next election in 2018 and run for the Senate against Jones and win by a landslide. Alabama and South Carolina are similar when it comes to politics and a Democrat doesn’t stand much of a chance to win a Senate seat and hold it since the days of Fritz Hollins.

    Control of the Senate is the primary concern for Republicans for the next couple of years, not necessarily who is the Attorney General. Trump can always appoint someone to replace Sessions and to do to allow him to run for his old Senate seat is a smart political move. Jones should enjoy his brief time in Washington if my prediction is accurate.

    Trump and a Republican controlled Senate is critical for the process of appointing and confirming conservatives to the open federal judge benches and grand prize is the potential for another one or two open SCOTUS seats to be filled by conservatives. When the covers are pulled back and the truth is exposed, that is where the real long term power and influence on the law resides.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t subscribe to the “It’s all about the Supreme Court” point of view. Sure, Roe really, really distorted our politics, causing both ends of the spectrum to elevate court confirmations to the top of the pile. But that’s a BAD thing, not something I’m going to go along with.

      And I don’t hold with it. To me, elections are about what they’re about — the political branches. Near as I can recall, I’ve never based a vote for president or Senate on whom they might support for the court. I leave that to the single-issue voters, and frankly, I wish they’d cut it out.

      I like Lindsey Graham’s approach. Or rather, the approach he used to follow before he went along with stiff-arming Merrick Garland (and what he did on that was inexcusable).

      What Graham, and sometimes McCain, USED TO do was vote for the nominees of either party, as long as they were qualified jurists. And fortunately, they usually have been. Which means I have a pretty fair amount of confidence that we have a fine Supreme Court, regardless of which president nominated each justice…

      1. Bart

        Brad, I am only referencing to what I have read concerning the SCOTUS and federal judge appointments being of primary importance to Republicans and conservatives. The impact will be a long lasting one if Trump is successful in filling open federal judge and possibly one or two more SCOTUS seats.No, it is not a high profile or much publically discussed subject but having a couple of attorneys in the family, for them and many in my circle of family and friends, it is a high priority.

        You don’t like single issue voters but unfortunately, a single issue is what drives all too many voters on both sides. A candidate can be letter perfect except for their stance on a sensitive
        subject like gay marriage. If he or she meets the desired criteria for a voter except for his or her opposition to gay marriage and it is their threshold of acceptance they won’t cross, the voter will vote for the other candidate that does not meet anything they support except for gay marriage.

        Pragmatism and moderation have been left behind in our present political climate and I don’t see any real climate change forthcoming because of the tribalism that infects our politics and political parties.

  5. Dave

    This post makes no mention of a variety of topics any political analyst would consider. For example, the normal partisan vote, the partisan swing from that vote, variations in voting by type of county, precinct, etc. It’s fine to point to this as a narrow win. It’s also fine, of course, to point out that this is ALABAMA, and what did you expect, a landslide?

    Also, while you’re chastising Richard Shelby for arguably having made the difference in producing Doug Jones’s victory by renouncing his own party’s nominee on a Sunday talk show *the weekend before the election*, you might want to do more to chastise more fully the person you’ve praised repeatedly on this blog for years, Lindsey Graham. For, among other things, this lapdog tweet he posted today, one of many recent lapdog tweets he’s aimed at an audience of one: Donald Trump:

    C’mon, Lindsey. Trump just did a rally in an arena in Pensacola a few days ago in which he specifically called for Alabama voters to vote for Moore. He did a robocall in which he called for Alabama voters to vote for Moore. He tweeted that Alabama voters should vote for Moore. Trump went all in for Moore. To somehow blame Bannon and treat Trump as though he played no role in this is pure Lindsey Graham.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And I stand gladly behind both the good things I’ve said about Lindsey in the past, as well as the critical things I’ve said lately. Both were entirely deserved…

  6. Phillip

    This is a time where I completely agree with you, Brad. I’m pleased that Moore lost, but the fact that white men went 3-1 for Moore and white women 2-1 for Moore is pretty stunning, and depressing. Were it not for the November revelations about sexual-predatorial behavior by Moore, this extremist would have won. Democrats certainly cannot count on running against candidates with the extreme baggage that Moore carried. For example, I saw a lot of tweets and Facebook posts from friends to the effect of, “if Alabama can do it, why not James Smith in SC?” But unless there’s a lot more to Henry than we know, it’s gonna be a very uphill battle here. The one situation does not extrapolate to the other; being closely tied to Trump is a net positive in this state, and Lindsey knows it, hence the recent embarrassing sycophancy, that and the hope to nudge Trump continually towards a more hawkish stance.

    1. bud

      Phillip I usually agree with you 100% but here I’ll have to settle for 75%. The reason the percentages were so high for Moore was largely because so many white voters stayed home. These were voters who just could not vote for someone as disgusting as Moore but couldn’t vote for a Democrat. I get it. When Jim Demint ran against against Alvin Greene I couldn’t vote for Greene. But it was unthinkable to vote for an ultra conservative like Demint. If W had run against Trump (as a Democrat) I would have stayed home. So there are just times when holding your nose is just not good enough.

      1. Bart

        Good point bud. This is very similar to the recent presidential election or elimination by absence. Many on both sides stayed home because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump or Clinton. Sometimes you have to abstain in order to maintain your personal beliefs and integrity.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I don’t buy that. I think you have to hold your nose and vote for someone you don’t like much in order to keep the exponentially worse candidate from being elected.

          I hold all those “principled” people who knew how bad Trump was but whose delicate feelings kept them from voting for Hillary responsible for this nightmare we’re living through… Not voting, or voting a pointless write-in, was inexcusable…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              And I’d tell you if I knew. Bernie’s a better human being than Trump, but he, too, is entirely unqualified to be president. I suspect that had that been the choice before us, an actual, viable third option would have emerged — someone the “never Trump” Republicans and actual Democrats could have gotten behind. Don’t know who. Maybe Biden. I definitely would have voted for him, had he stepped up…

                1. bud

                  In hypothetical matchups between Trump and X here is how I would vote:

                  Clinton – Clinton
                  Bernie – Bernie
                  Bush Sr – Bush
                  Romney – not vote
                  W – not vote
                  McCain – not vote
                  Jeb – Jeb
                  Nixon – Nixon
                  Mitch McConnell – not vote
                  Paul Ryan – not vote
                  Kasich – Kasich
                  Gerald Ford – Ford

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    And with me it would (probably) be:

                    Clinton – Clinton
                    Bernie – Hope and pray for a viable third candidate, which I’m pretty sure would emerge
                    Bush Sr – Bush
                    Romney – Romney
                    W – W
                    McCain – McCain
                    Jeb – Jeb
                    Nixon – Nixon
                    Mitch McConnell – McConnell
                    Paul Ryan – Ryan (but this would be tough)
                    Kasich – Kasich
                    Gerald Ford – Ford

                    I say “probably” because I can’t know until I’m in the situation and see all the specifics of what happens and is said in the race itself. I’m leery of hypotheticals. They can be wildly different from real life….

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      A caveat on my caveat.

                      There’s no “probably” to the fact that I would never, ever back Trump. The only way I might hypothetically back Trump would be if he was up against someone worse. And there has been no one worse than Trump in our nation’s history so far, and the only way one might emerge in the future is if Trump so degrades our standards that others like him become viable…

              1. bud

                he, too, is entirely unqualified to be president.

                Huh?? Bernie has been a mayor so he has executive experience. He served in the House so he knows that side of the Capitol. And he’s been in the senate for decades. Sounds pretty damn qualified to me. Which is different from saying you disagree with his politics.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  From what I can tell, he knows and cares next to nothing about international affairs. Remember when he got thrown for a loop when a debate format was changed to national security after the Paris attacks? And the core of the job is dealing with the rest of the world.

                  That debate was sort of comical. Forced to address the world, he was like, “Paris attacks are a shame, yadda, yadda, income inequality!”

                  Take a look at his issues page. His only nod to international affairs is to say he’s against war — as though that’s all our dealings with other countries is about.

                  And he only mentions that after listing 30 other issues, including “Empowering Tribal Nations,” “General Electric Must Pay to Restore the Hudson River,” “Fighting for the Rights of Native Hawaiians,” and “Fighting for Nurses.” (He loves to “fight.” Just not wars…)

                  Even if my only interest in the rest of the world was avoiding war, I’m pretty sure that would be higher on the list than those other things…

          1. Bart

            I voted third party. Is that inexcusable? Yes, in the past I have held my nose and voted for someone I didn’t like or support but that was not the case with Trump and Clinton. I ask the question, how could anyone who cares about this country have voted for either one?

            Who do you protest against when it comes to Trump and Clinton?

            You can try to hold me accountable for the nightmare called Donald Trump but that is not your call to make for me. It may assuage your sense of community to go after those who chose to write-in or vote third party but I sleep very well at night because of my decision to vote third party. I voted my conscious and principles, not a political convenience because both were terrible but one not as terrible as the other.

            It was obvious that neither one would be able to bring this country together in any meaningful way and if anything, the divide under Clinton would be just as wide if not wider than it is now. No, there does come a time when one makes a stand and if that is not something you can respect, then we have a problem Brad.

            1. Doug Ross

              ” I sleep very well at night because of my decision to vote third party.”


              We have the system we have because people like Brad only support candidates from the two parties. Then he bemoans the fact that there is so much partisanship.

              Ideally, we’d have three or four parties — each trying to build coalitions. That won’t happen until the other parties are given a fair shot at attracting voters. That means allowing them on the stage for debates, paying for THEIR primaries, inviting them to newspaper endorsement interviews, etc.

                    1. Bryan Caskey

                      “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” – Stuff John Adams Said, Vol. II

                      “There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.” Stuff George Washington Said, Vol. IX

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Yep, and nowadays, it consumes.

                      One of the saddest things in our history is that Madison and Hamilton were dead set against parties, against the destructive force of “faction.” And within a handful of years they were the leaders of two parties tearing at each other’s throats…

                    3. Bill

                      To quote,Dwight Yoakum,’Things Change’

                      ‘Great nations are simply the operating fronts of behind-the-scenes, vastly ambitious individuals who had become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery.’
                      Stuff Bucky Fuller said

                1. bud

                  How’s that working out for you Mr. Adams? I’ll never understand people who correctly slam gerrymandering yet jump through flaming hoops of nonsense to defend the desgusting 21st century version of the electoral college. Both violate the principle of 1 man 1 vote.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                “We have the system we have because people like Brad only support candidates from the two parties.”

                Here we go again.

                No, Doug, that is not true.

                We have the system we have because regardless of what I do, 99.999 percent of the time, either the Democrat or the Republican is GOING TO WIN no matter what I do or say.

                That means that in each election that is at all competitive, it is essential to make a judgment about which of those two, ONE OF WHOM IS GOING TO WIN, is better or, more critically, less bad. I’ve devoted much of my life and energy to trying to make that determination and sharing my conclusion, for whatever that is worth to anyone.

                I’ve explained that and explained it and explained it, but it never gets through to you. It comes back to me, from you, in the form quoted above. Which makes me wonder why I bother to do all that typing.

                Each of us has a duty as a citizen to do our best to make sure the best, or (again, more critically) least bad, people are actually elected to office in our representative democracy.

                That’s what the vote is for. It’s not something we have in order to please ourselves with our ideological purity. You want to be able to say, “I’ve never voted for a bad candidate (according to my own definition of ‘bad’)!” Congratulations. What that means is that you have helped many WORSE candidates get elected, by failing to vote for the one person who could have stopped them in each case.

                If I write in Abraham Lincoln in every election I vote in, I can congratulate myself on my high standards, but I will have abdicated my responsibility as a citizen.

                I hope Bart will forgive me when I say that people sleeping well after voting for someone who has no chance, rather than voting for the less-bad candidate who can win, remind me of the German phrase ohne mich. It means “without me.” You might say it was an honorable thing for young Germans to say after 1945 with regard to military service. But as an attitude for a voter in a free country, it leaves a lot to be desired.

                We all need to take real, practical responsibility for the government we have going forward. It is our duty to do all we can to affect the real-life decisions that are made in elections…

                1. Doug Ross

                  You reject Libertarian Party candidates, right, solely based on the Party. Same for Green Party, I would assume. Did you invite those candidates into endorsement interviews at The State? Did you or The State ever write comparisons of the policies and issues of those other parties in a way that readers/voters could be better informed? If you did, I missed it. Politics doesn’t have to be a football game with two teams. But that’s the way you treat it. And you perpetuate that 99% model that way.

                  Even today, you’d likely endorse and vote for Lindsey Graham despite his love affair with Trump over pretty much any other candidate… and if you do that, even if Lindsey is the least worst, you are responsible for Trump and those like him. Same for your support for McMaster.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    We invited and even endorsed a Libertarian candidate for Richland County Council once, more to make a dramatic point about our problem with the incumbent than anything else.

                    We invited in Libertarians on other occasions, but each time it was a fruitless exercise. If there’s anyone who views the world 180 degrees from the way I believe a public official should, it’s a Libertarian. I get along with some of them personally, but would not want them in office.

                    We enthusiastically endorsed independent Bubba Cromer for the Legislature.

                    In the first instance, it didn’t matter what we said — the incumbent was going to win. As I’ve said before, in such cases as that, it’s acceptable to make a protest gesture.

                    In the second, the independent had a chance, and in fact won. Which shows we assessed it right in believing he was viable.

                    To this day, though, I am VERY uncomfortable that we endorsed the Libertarian that one time, and you won’t normally see me bring it up. It was just a really bad situation.

                    Endorsing that Libertarian was like the time that, backed into a corner by the particular circumstances of the case, we endorsed the one person I would have bet money we would never, EVER endorse — Jake Knotts. I’ll never ever feel good about that, either.

                    The real world throws you some curves. One should never say “never,” because if you approach things with your eyes and mind open, you don’t know what might come up…

                2. Doug Ross

                  “We invited in Libertarians on other occasions, but each time it was a fruitless exercise. If there’s anyone who views the world 180 degrees from the way I believe a public official should, it’s a Libertarian.”

                  So basically what you are saying is that you didn’t believe it was in the public interest to be informed about the positions of all the candidates, just the ones you felt comfortable with. You wouldn’t want to waste your time analyzing the Libertarian view and presenting your case against it — just ignore it so it goes away. Because (like school vouchers), if you allow people to have options, they may choose something you don’t like. Got it.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    “So basically what you are saying is that you didn’t believe it was in the public interest to be informed about the positions of all the candidates, just the ones you felt comfortable with.”

                    Sigh. No, Doug. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying 1) it’s a fruitless exercise when the candidate hasn’t a prayer, and I can’t think of a time when a Libertarian had a prayer, and 2) even if we had, there’s no way I would be endorsing anyone whose very affiliation announced that the Democrats and Republicans weren’t libertarian enough for him.

                    We did bring in some Libertarians early on in my time in editorial, but each of those meetings was a complete waste of time.

                    Even back when we were flush with people, every minute of the day was a minute in which we had to do THIS instead of THAT thing — or rather, a thousand thats. I don’t think you can conceive of how incredibly hard it was to squeeze four candidate interviews into a day when you still had to get the paper out. Stretching to five or six wasn’t an option. It’s always about triaging time and space.

                    It’s interesting to me that you seem to think I have to interview each and every Libertarian who comes along in order to know I’m opposed to Libertarians.

                    The problem with “alternative” parties in this country is that they are one-trick ponies. Unlike the mainstream parties — whose one virtue is that sometimes their candidates are pragmatists rather than ideologues — they see everything through the prism of One Idea. Be familiar with the idea, and you know the candidates.

                    They’re the opposite of the UnParty. As every schoolchild should know (but doesn’t unfortunately), the first fundamental, nonnegotiable tenet of the UnParty is unwavering opposition to fundamental, nonnegotiable tenets…

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              And Bart, I respect you, and I hope we don’t have a problem.

              But Trump and Clinton cannot be equated. If your standard is “would the country be united?,” then yeah, it was hopeless. As I’ve written many times, the partisanship would have been far more bitter than in the Bush and Obama years, which was a depressing prospect as I contemplated a Clinton victory. As I wrote before the election.

              But there was absolutely no viable alternative. There are two sets of people. One contains all the other people who have run for the office and held the office who had the basic qualifications for the job, understanding of the job, and basic mental stability to handle the job. The other set contains Donald Trump. No one as grossly unqualified, as pathetically unhinged, as proudly ignorant had ever come so close to the office.

              And because people who KNEW that just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, whom they did not personally like, he is not president of the United States. Sure, many of them have the excuse that they thought Hillary would win anyway, but it is NEVER OK to make an assumption like that when there is any chance of someone as abominable as Trump winning. And there was always that chance in this case.

              There are thousands of reasons why this is an unacceptable state of affairs. Let’s consider one. Check out the lead story in The Washington Post today. It thoroughly reports and details a shocking narrative regarding Donald Trump’s disbelief in Russian meddling and what that has led to. The essence of the story:

              Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

              The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

              Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.

              His administration has moved to undo at least some of the sanctions the previous administration imposed on Russia for its election interference, exploring the return of two Russian compounds in the United States that President Barack Obama had seized — the measure that had most galled Moscow. Months later, when Congress moved to impose additional penalties on Moscow, Trump opposed the measures fiercely.

              Trump has never convened a Cabinet-level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it, administration officials said. Although the issue has been discussed at lower levels at the National Security Council, one former high-ranking Trump administration official said there is an unspoken understanding within the NSC that to raise the matter is to acknowledge its validity, which the president would see as an affront….

              In other words, this attack on our democracy and the threat it represents can’t even be discussed in the White House because it would hurt the feelings of our severely mentally unbalanced president.

              At one point in the story, we see how Trump aides try to defend this situation:

              White House officials cast the president’s refusal to acknowledge Russian interference in the election as an understandably human reaction. “The president obviously feels . . . that the idea that he’s been put into office by Vladi­mir Putin is pretty insulting,” said a second senior administration official…

              Yep, it’s an understandable human reaction — if you’re a 2-year-old. And this is the guy with the launch codes.

              This situation was entirely avoidable. All that had to happen was for smart, patriotic Republicans and independents (and more Democrats than turned out) to vote for someone they (and I) don’t much like — Hillary Clinton.

              There was no other way of stopping it.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        “These were voters who just could not vote for someone as disgusting as Moore but couldn’t vote for a Democrat.”

        Of course they could have voted for the Democrat, and not doing so — not doing all they could to stop Moore — was absolutely inexcusable.

        The Greene-DeMint thing is a poor comparison. Greene didn’t have a chance, so it didn’t matter WHAT you or I did. That’s a case in which I think it’s entirely OK to vote a write-in, since whatever you do, DeMint wins…

  7. Bill

    This had more to do w/Trump than the sex scandal.Of course it can be repeated.Brad’s ‘normal Republican’ is showing…

  8. bud

    The GOP needs to own the fact that they are nominating such terrible people, gropers, child molesters, legitimate rape endorsers, witches, pro-lifers who get abortions for their mistresses, war mongers and a host of really odious characters. This is a party that would make the mafia blush. Yet we’ll see the false equivalency crowd scramble to do their gratuitous spin. Can’t wait to see how.

  9. Scout

    “Trump’s man was an absolute nightmare of a candidate”

    This is true, but Trump was also an absolute nightmare of a candidate – but that didn’t matter a year ago. Couldn’t the fact that it did matter this time possibly be a teeny tiny sign of movement in the right direction.

    So what was different here. Is it that they didn’t hate this particular Democrat as much as Hillary?

    Or maybe it’s a teeny tiny sign of progress.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Nah. They don’t hate Jones as much. Or at all. But I’d be hard-pressed to think of anybody they hate nearly as much as Hillary. Ted Kennedy being dead and all — and I’m still pretty sure they didn’t hate Ted as much…

      1. bud

        The question is why? Hillary really was a very decent person. Fox News had a lot to do with it. But I think the false equivalency crowd played a roll.

        1. Doug Ross

          “very decent person”

          Mind boggling. And I’m guessing (remembering) you thought Mitt Romney was a horrible person?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            That’s not mind-boggling. What’s mind-boggling is the way that people let their minds get poisoned against other people, to where they can’t tell that Hillary and Mitt are both normal human beings. As are Jeb and Kasich and Biden and so many others….

  10. David

    Brad, I spend a fair amount of time with rural white Alabamians, and many of them are longtime, dear friends. Many of them were also probably Moore voters, and enthusiastic ones at that. To them, Moore is the exemplar of a Christian–by which they mean someone who’ll defend the faith as it’s been handed down unaltered through generations from a host of enemies who seek its destruction, and thereby the destruction of the City on a Hill that is the USA. Those enemies include liberals, Muslims (evangelical media and touring lecturers have been inculcating islamophobia in churches for many years), LGBTs, secular humanists, and even those Christians (like me, though I’m not sure they quite realize it) whose faith leads them off the old paths. The accusations made against Moore, which seem so credible to those on the outside, are dismissed as hostile propaganda designed to tear a good man down because he stands in the way of a nefarious agenda. Evangelicals have been taught for years by their leaders and the vast “Christian” media complex that they are in a holy war, and have to be vigilant in patrolling boundaries and protecting their own. Moore is the perfect vehicle for this sense of fearful vigilance; he fears what they fear, and has built a career posing as the champion of the faithful. That’s the root of his appeal; to many Alabamians, his cause is God’s cause, and God’s cause brooks no compromise.

    1. Mark Stewart

      In other words, American Taliban. There is nothing “Christian” about this theocratic outlook.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I get it. And hey, I’m someone who will stick up for folks who adhere to traditional faith and folkways and flag-waving patriotism. In many ways my heart warms to them far more readily than to the modern “sophisticates” who despise them. But I have little patience with the kind of hard-headedness that makes people immune to evidence and obvious truth, who adhere to the pathetically transparent lies of a Trump or Moore or some other grotesque, and believing such obviously malevolent people when they claim that the people telling the truth are the liars…

  11. Mr. Smith

    “Sophisticates“ is just another word for “eggheads,“ the term of reference preferred back in the 1950s and 60s to denigrate people who apply intellect to rationally examine life and the world around them. These “sophisticates” are in general no less patriotic than the folks who denigrate them – though their patriotism may not take the superficial and unquestioning flag-waving form. Many are no less spiritual – though they may not equate faith with cultural conservatism. Many have deep roots in American folkways and may have a better appreciation of those ways than the folks who supposedly practice them. By and large, resentment of “sophisticates” is nothing more or less than the latest manifestation of the long-standing and deep-going American tradition of anti-intellectualism.

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