DonkeyHotey / Flickr mcconnell ryan trump caricature...
DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Well, yesterday finally ended one of the most suspenseful (not) cliffhangers since “Who shot JR?” The Tangerine Twitler finally came out and supported Roy Moore for the vacant Alabama Senate seat. Kinda, sorta. Trump stopped short of actually endorsing Moore, an accused child molester, instead cloaking it in his time tested and honored tradition of resorting to dog whistles, cloaking his support in the rationale of “A pedophile beats a liberal Democrat every time”, kind of like 3-of-a-kind beats a pair of aces hands down.

But I’m kind of surprised that everybody was in such suspense about this. Media pundits said that there was no way that Trump could remain sinent on this issue for the next three weeks. Bullshit. Everybody said there was no way Trump cold refuse to put out his tax returns, and look what that got us. Of course Trump could have shut up about Moore for another three weeks, simply by distracting us with other nonsense instead.

Personally, I wasn’t surprised at all by Trump’s decision. Actually, KellyAnne Conway tipped their hand on Fox and Friends, when she said almost identically what Trump did some 24 hours later. It was a radical departure from what Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whom I like to think of as an oily Brenda Starr, had been saying from the podium for days. But as Sanders repeatedly asserts when pressed, ethical constraints prohibit her from speaking directly to individual races from the podium, Conway is under no such restraint. But clearly, KellyAnne Conway’s statement was carefully crafted, and was in itself a de facto indication of which way the White House was leaning.

All that being said, there really was no other way Trump could go, for a whole bunch of reasons. First, Steve Bannon has been leaning heavily on Trump and the White House to not trash Moore. Bannon has blown his whole bankroll on Moore, and if he loses, not in a primary, but to a lousy Democrat, it would seriously damage his street cred heading into 2018. And by assisting Bannon, Trump is hoping to have at least minimal control over who Bannon does and doesn’t challenge in 2018. lotsa luck with that one pal.

For another thing, Trump really does need Moore in the Senate, and Conway wasn’t lying, he desperately needs his vote on taxes. One thing is near certain, there is no way taxes are going to be done by Christmas. Even if the Senate expedites a vote on their bill, and it passes, with only 10 days left in the legislative calendar when both the House and the Senate are in session at the same time, it is inconceivable that they could get the contradicting bills through the committee and reconciled for a vote before the end of the year. This is why Moore is so important, the new Senator from Alabama will be sworn in once congress returns in January, and a Senator Doug Jones would mean that Mitch McConnell could only lose 1 GOP vote and still have Mike Pence be able to break the tie.

But, on a more visceral level, there was no other choice that Trump could make, and he knew it. Moore is accused by 9 different women of sexual misconduct, one charge concerning a then minor. Trump himself has been accused by at least 50% more women of the same thing, especially if you count in the complaints that he barged into the backstage changing room of his Miss Teen Universe pageant, while underage girls were in various stages of undress. Trump of course has denied every allegation against him. This is why he so repeatedly referred to Moore’s denials of all accusations yesterday. 

Trump had no choice but to come down on the side of a sexual predator. If he had slammed Moore, the obvious question would have been “But Mr President, what makes Moore’s accusers so credible, but all of your accusers are full of shit?” Also,McConnell, Corker, Flake, and most of the other GOP Senators have come down on the side of the angels on this one, not only condemning Moore, but threatening to expel him if he’s elected. And Trump holds the Senate, and especially Mitch McConnell personally responsible for the failure of his signature healthcare initiative. Knowing how much the GOP Senate detests Moore only makes supporting him a form of revenge for Trump. And one more thing. To Trump’s mind, this is much ado about nothing. After all, he had like 16 women accuse him of being a sexual predator, and what happened? He slammed the women, called them liars, denied everything, and he won! Except for one simple thing. He didn’t actually win, he lost the election by over three million fucking votes to Hillary Clinton. If Moore suffers a similar fate, there is no electoral college to save Moore’s ass.

But, while this is something that Trump, for a variety of reasons felt compelled to do, it may not only make him look bad if Jones wins, it may help to sink the GOP boat next November.Polling shows that while Moore has gained nine points among men voters in Alabama since the scandal broke, Doug Jones’ support among women has shot up 22%. There are more women than men in this country, and you can bet that even if Moore loses, every Democratic challenger in 2018, and every incumbent as well will beat their GOP opponents over the head with Moore, and inflame the women’s vote backlash against him in the process. 

The only thing that Trump said yesterday that shocked me was when he said that he would have more to say next week about whether or not he would go to Alabama to campaign with Moore. Forget what Bannon said about firing Jim Comey being the biggest political misstep in recent history, Trump going to Alabama to campaign for and with Moore would make it look like stubbing your toe on a curb. Right now, Trump still has somewhat of plausible deniability on Moore, he never actually endorsed him, he just pointed out that Moore contested the charges, and said thawt having a Democrat in the senate would crimp his political style, he never once said “Roy Moore is a Georgia peach, and y’all better get out and vote for him on December 12th.” But if Trump goes down there to stump for Moore, or even worse, to appear onstage with him like he did with Luther Strange during the primary, the die is cast. Even a robocall would be a bridge too far. If he makes any overt gewture of support, then Roy Moore, for all intents and purposes becomes a defacto accepted part of the Republican party.He must be, the President himself, the leader of the Republican party, supported him in his campaign. And if he does that, the Roy Moore becomes a 10 ton block of concrete around the neck of every GOP candidate running for office next year, and you can bet the Democrats will make sure it’s hanging from a barbed wire necklace. And not just nationally, Moore would be prime fodder for state races as well, after whatever they’re running for, they’re all Reublicans, right?

So, I’m not buying into the theory that Trump couldn’t keep his big, fat New York mouth shut for three weeks on Moore. He has successfully stonewalled on every single gommdan thing that he didn’t want to exposwe or talk about, he could have done that here too.But he didn’t want to, he felt a kindred spirit of brotherhood for Moore. Shit, if a serial sexual predator can’t stand up for another serial sexual predator, then what has this old world come to anyway?

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