Roy Moore won a runaway victory of 55-45% in the Alabama Republican primary yesterday, easily defeating the candidate that Donald Trump and the entire Republican leadership had backed strongly. I don’t think too much can be read into this result and whether this portends a series of successful insurgent wacko extremist candidates in Republican primaries against the merely extremist incumbents. Although Moore is an extremist, so was Strange. Moore just went a little further. Also Moore had widespread name-recognition, having run for many statewide offices and won twice for the position of chief justice of the state Supreme Court. Other insurgent candidates may not have those advantages. But in politics, perception often takes precedence over rationality and many incumbents may be extremely fearful of what is in store for them in next year’s primaries.
Of course, now the Republican party leadership will coalesce around Moore to make sure he wins the election in December 12 against Democrat Doug Jones. That process may result in at least some level of rapprochement. They may fear what Moore will do in the senate but they fear more their present margin of 52-48 shrinking to 51-49. Democrats likely think that they have a better chance against Moore than against strange but it is going to be a real uphill battle to win in a state like Alabama, a state where Moore thought it a good idea to dress up as a cowboy and wave a gun at a rally and even rode to the polling station on a horse. Alabama is in the south, not the west, and cowboys are not part of their local folklore, but who the hell cares, as long as you pretend to be macho?
The attempt to get rid of Obamacare seems to have died yet another death with senate leader Mitch McConnell deciding that he would not even bring the bill to a vote this week. That the bill was pulled with five days still left suggests to me that there were more than three Republican defectors who were not going to vote in favor. If the leadership had to win over just one vote, they could have continued to try and bribe and coerce one of the holdouts to switch. But if the Republican caucus was clearly not going to get 50 out of its 52 votes, then this would have enabled more Republicans to also vote no on an extremely unpopular bill without being singled out as the one key vote that sank it and thus put them in the abusive cross hairs of the Tweeter-in-Chief. Having a large margin of defeat might have been more embarrassing than not having a vote at all. But I expect this zombie attempt to get rid of Obamacare will come back in some form.
Trump is rightly getting blasted for the fact that he has done little to ameliorate the plight of Puerto Rico where there is a massive calamity unfolding and the people are in terrible shape with a total electricity blackout, lack of potable water, and depleting food supplies Rather than trying bring attention to their plight and helping them, Trump chose instead to bring attention to the kneeling of athletes at sports games, waiting five days before saying anything, and then blamed the poor response to the fact that Puerto Rico is in this “thing called the Atlantic Ocean” before boasting, as usual, as to what a great job his administration has done, counter to the facts. I do not expect him to lose support among his base for his incompetence and lack of empathy towards Puerto Ricans because although they are US citizens, they are Spanish speaking people of color and thus are not Real Merkins™, a title that is reserved only for white people who are the only ones who deserve prompt and massive help after a disaster.
Seth Meyers on the Puerto Rican crisis and Trump’s response