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When Moore is Much, Much Less

If one were to wish for a Christmas miracle, you’d probably not waste that wish on hoping a Democrat could capture a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, which hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years. Yet, with last week’s victory by Democrat Doug Jones over rabid, Bible-thumping, gay-hating, vitriol-spitting Judge Roy Moore, that’s just what happened.

To say Moore’s loss was a shock would be putting it very mildly. After all, despite the accusations that Moore was having intimate contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his thirties, none other than President Donald Trump used taxpayer funds to fly to Moore’s aid with a hearty endorsement.

Not that Trump endorsing a sexual predator is particularly surprising given the long list of women accusing him of inappropriate sexual contact. And of course there’s always the Hollywood Access tape of Trump bragging in vulgar language about being able to grab women “by the pussy” because he’s a “star.”

But despite Trump’s vastly overblown self-image, even the office of the presidency, which he has degraded enormously, wasn’t enough to pull out a victory for Moore. And that means big, big trouble for Trump’s chances of passing legislation in the Senate. The former two-seat advantage Republicans held has now been reduced to one thin vote. Were Republicans willing to march in lockstep with Trump, perhaps they would still be able to largely control the Senate’s actions.

Unfortunately for Trump, that is simply not the case, as abundantly evident in the twisted machinations with the so-called tax reform bill. The truth, which is becoming more and more undeniable every day, is that moderate Republicans are having a tough time jumping on Trump’s radical right-wing bandwagon. And they have good reasons for their concerns.

One might start with the fact that Trump has the lowest approval ratings of any president in recent history at this point in his tenure. With Moore’s loss in what should have been an easy election, it’s justifiably making Republicans who must face the upcoming 2018 midterm elections very nervous. If a Democrat can win in what’s been called “ruby red” Alabama, Democrats may very well be able to win in other formerly “safe” red states.

Then there are the enormous problems with Trump’s degradation of America’s international standing. Far from being a shining beacon of freedom and truth for the world, Trump’s extremely poor decisions have in almost all instances made matters worse, not better, while leaving the rest of the world’s nations wondering what comes next. A good example would be Trump’s incredibly foolish decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, which has been broadly condemned by almost all of the nations in the Middle East who fear it will stoke more insecurity, more violence and more bloodshed for exactly no useful purpose.

Nor is the Trump administration winning many friends at home. The decisions to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, destroy national monuments, cut loose the timber, oil, gas and mining industries on what’s left of our nation’s federal lands legacy and repealing Obama-era regulations to limit global warming emissions have millions of people up in arms and actively resisting his agenda at every turn.

In politics we know the pendulum will swing back when it goes too far in one direction. That direction right now is the radical right embodied by Judge Roy Moore and embraced by Donald Trump. Moore is just the first, not the last, high-profile loss as that pendulum swings — and there will be many yet to come.

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George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

February 19, 2019
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