In the wake of Roy Moore’s defeat to Doug Jones, there was no shortage of blame to go around for his loss. Moore himself blamed a “smear campaign” against him, Steve Bannon blamed the Republican establishment, mainstream media blamed Bannon, the Republican establishment blamed Moore, and even President Trump got a dig in, blaming the Republican party for not endorsing his candidate, Luther Strange. None felt more hollow than Ann Coulter, who claimed she wanted Moore to lose:
NEW COLUMN IS POSTED! WHY I SECRETLY WANTED MOORE TO LOSE: BROOKS 2020! https://t.co/7OK1WM9CpA
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) December 13, 2017
Apparently Coulter didn’t get the memo that Brooks sadly revealed to the House floor that he has prostate cancer earlier this morning, which would likely eliminate him from a run at a Senate seat in 2020. No matter who points fingers at whom, everyone involved needs to start by turning the fingers at themselves, and acknowledging what they did wrong in the Alabama Senate campaign.
No one is off limits; everyone involved is to blame for Moore’s loss.
For starters, no person or entity is more to blame for Moore’s loss than The Washington Post. Moore won the Republican primary on September 26th, and almost immediately afterwards, WaPo prepared its smear campaign against Moore, dredging up 30+ year old accusations of sexual misconduct, which fit perfectly in the mold of the #MeToo movement and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein. WaPo released its story on November 9th in an eerily similar timetable to the allegations against Candidate Donald Trump, who had a similar situation with the release of the Access Hollywood video leak.
No matter what you think of Moore, the allegations against him were very clearly politically motivated, designed to either 1) flip a stalwart Republican Senate seat, or 2) undermine Moore’s term had he won. Sadly, WaPo’s success means that these tactics will be employed again to subvert future political campaigns, regardless of whether or not any allegations are factual or baseless.
In the end, WaPo’s conduct will encourage politically timed attacks to influence election, and candidates who do not represent the voters will end up winning races they do not deserve. Expect to see more questionably-timed attacks in the future in the wake of WaPo’s success.
It is important to note that Roy Moore himself deserves a lot of the blame. He was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court twice; after his removal from office on ethics grounds in 2004, he was re-elected in 2012, only to be suspended again in 2016. He refused to debate Jones, a cowardly maneuver in any campaign. And there were clearly plenty of people in the state who despised Moore enough to undermine the “Christian” credentials which won him the primary, regardless of the merit of the accusations against him.
Turnout in the Presidential election for the senate was Shelby 1,335,000. Moore was 685,000 short. But in 2010, Shelby had 967,000 and in 2012 Sessions (unopposed, had 795.
So turnout not THAT unusual in a non-presidential year. Moore was a bad candidate, it turns out.
— Larry Schweikart (@LarrySchweikart) December 13, 2017
The numbers don’t lie; even without WaPo’s questionable reporting, Moore was a troubled candidate from the start. Compare this election’s county map…
It’s easy to forget that Jeff Sessions carried every single county in the state during his 2014 election victory.
It’s worth noting that Sessions ran unopposed. There was no challenger because “resistance” was futile.
Sessions ran uncontested, and didn’t lose one country. That’s how “in the bag” this Senate seat was. Alabama Republicans can only blame themselves for choosing Moore as “their guy” in DC.
It wasn’t just the voters who chose Moore; Steve Bannon did as well, and he also deserves his share of the blame. Moore was Bannon’s hand-picked choice; he came to the state to campaign for Moore as an “anti-establishment” candidate, even when President Trump was campaigning for Luther Strange. Bannon’s endorsement might have paid off in the primary, but his candidate did not have the appeal or the background to win in the general election.
Bannon clearly did not do the proper vetting of Moore as a candidate, or properly canvass the state of Alabama to see what they were looking for in a Senator. He can point the finger elsewhere all he wants, but at the end of the day, Moore is the first Republican in Alabama to lose a Senate election since 1990. Bannon has to wear this loss almost as much as Moore does.
However, Bannon is correct to point the finger of blame at the Republican establishment. There was scant support for Moore, even before WaPo’s allegations became front page news. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seemingly unable to advance a bill in the Senate, galvanized a number of establishment Republicans to attempt to force Moore to quit, even after it was too late to do so:
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
If McConnell hadn’t meddled in the race in the first place, perhaps Ann Coulter’s Mo Brooks would have won, as The Federalist points out:
Determined to keep a Freedom Caucus member out of the Senate, McConnell and SLF swung into action with a little over a month to go, spending over four million dollars carpet-bombing Mo Brooks. They told everyone who would listen that they were going to destroy Brooks. They even hired consultants for a potential primary challenger in his house seat, just to intimidate him.
Last (and least), President Trump also deserves some of the blame. Yes, he did initially endorse Luther Strange, even campaigning for him in Alabama’s primary:
Looking forward to Friday night in the Great State of Alabama. I am supporting "Big" Luther Strange because he was so loyal & helpful to me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
And even though Trump never offered his full “support” to Moore following the allegations, he did implore the state on many occasions to elect him, mostly due to the damaging Doug Jones platform:
The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2017
The people of Alabama will do the right thing. Doug Jones is Pro-Abortion, weak on Crime, Military and Illegal Immigration, Bad for Gun Owners and Veterans and against the WALL. Jones is a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet. Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
Yes, Trump did not “pick” Roy Moore. He may not have attacked Moore, or campaigned with him, or tried to subvert him, but he did try to implore the voters to elect him, and they did not, which he also did with Strange in the primary. While Trump’s endorsement did not hurt, this election has demonstrated that it is not enough to overcome questionable media coverage of an already questionable candidate.
So, what does all of this mean for Doug Jones? Nationalist Review’s Brett MacDonald has likened Jones to Massachusetts’s Scott Brown, who was unable to overcome his inability to reconcile his platform with the voters:
This isn’t to criticize Brown for the sake of criticizing him. He’s a loyal supporter of the president. He’s just the perfect example of what happens to a politician when they are squeezed into an uncomfortable position and facing expectations they would otherwise prefer to avoid. The conform, they shape-shift, and they find ways to adapt.
So what happens next? Jones can enter Congress and do absolutely everything he can to piss off his constituents by being led through the motions of Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren. Alternatively, he can alienate all that outside money he relied on from west-coast Democrat donors and shoot himself in the fundraising foot. Either way he’s screwed. When the midterms roll around and Republicans pick up a couple more seats stretching out their control to 53 or 54 senators, Doug Jones becomes an insignificant moral victory won by desperate manipulation.
Even though liberal mainstream media spearheaded the movement which effectively “killed” Roy Moore’s candidacy for Senate…
…they might soon find themselves with an even bigger problem on their hands; a Democratic Senator in a red state who does not represent the interests of his constituents. And even though the blame for Moore will primarily belong with the media, they are not the only ones responsible for the loss of a “safe” Senate seat.