Steve Bannon is supposedly the reason for this disaster, not the Republican Establishment.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board claims that “Alabama Sends a Message.” Indeed it does, which is why the WSJ is anxious to tell you what it is before you decide on your own.
They think the message is that Steve Bannon is a loser. To make that message stick, they need to show one or more of the following.
- That Roy Moore won the primary because of Steve Bannon’s support rather than getting his support because Bannon correctly guessed that Moore would win.
- That abandoning Moore because of unproven allegations was a rational act for someone who wanted Republicans to win.
- That Bannon’s actions were more damaging to the GOP than Republican actions treating Moore as guilty and all voters who sided with him as perverse.
Remember, Moore barely lost. So, it’s ridiculous to claim that getting Moore out and offering a write-in candidate would have done any better. In fact, Moore would have had to agree to step down, which not only would have ended his ambitions, but also look like he was admitting guilt. There was little chance that Bannon could have convinced Moore to do that.
The WSJ Editors opine,
The Alabama result shows that Mr. Bannon cares less about conservative policy victories than he does personal king-making. He wants to depose Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader even if it costs Republicans Senate control. GOP voters, take note: Mr. Bannon is for losers.
The Moore defeat should also be a lesson to the Republican Party, and President Trump, that many GOP voters are still at heart character voters. They will only accept so much misbehavior in a politician, no matter the policy stakes. Mr. Trump opposed Mr. Moore in the primary but came around to support him even after the accusations emerged about Mr. Moore’s pursuit of teenage girls while he was in his 30s. The GOP voters who ignored Mr. Trump and rejected Mr. Moore also want a President who acts presidential.
As for Alabama Republicans, they’ll get another shot at Mr. Jones in 2020. Maybe they’ll learn from this debacle and nominate a candidate worthy of support.
I think the message of the election is that the establishment (whether Democrat and GOP) can destroy a candidate on the basis of unproven allegations.
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