Okay, they didn’t walk into a bar. They literally or figuratively walked into the offices of Trump brain and evil mastermind, Stephan K. Bannon.
The characters in question are former Staten Island Congressman and current candidate for Congress from the same district Michael Grimm; defeated Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, a man whose work in the Bush Administration, as Republican National Committee Chairman and as a lobbyist, defines “establishment Republican;” and Roy Moore, the twice-removed Alabama judge who now is running for the United States Senate from that state.
All three of these men have humbled themselves before Steve Bannon, the would-be leader of the nationalist, white supremacist movement in Trump world. Bannon seeks to reshape Congress and other offices to his liking by supporting candidates such as these.
Grimm served a brief tenure in the House of Representatives, which was highlighted by his threat to throw a reporter over a balcony. He was later convicted of tax fraud and served seven months in a federal prison. Grimm now wants to reclaim his former House seat from the current incumbent Dan Donovan, a former Staten Island District Attorney.
Grimm recently supplicated himself in Bannon’s Washington Breitbart headquarters. The two were joined by a couple Western New York Republican political operatives who are evidently eager to make money and add to their resumes with this effort. One of the operatives recently demonstrated his skills in the campaigns of several Erie County candidates who ran extremely negative campaigns. Most of those candidates lost.
Ed Gillespie came close to defeating Senator Mark Warner in 2014 in a Virginia U.S. Senate election. Given his what-passes-for moderate Republican positions on some issues he was given a strong chance of being elected Virginia governor this year. But then Gillespie ran against an extreme Trumpkin in the Republican primary and nearly lost. After that Gillespie moved to the right and adopted many of the positions of his right-wing extremist primary opponent. Trump endorsed him in tweets. A few days before the election last week Bannon trumpeted that Gillespie had seen the light, had become a Trumpkin, and was cruising toward victory. Then Gillespie lost by a wide margin and Bannon reported that Gillespie lost because he wasn’t sufficiently indoctrinated in the Trumpian philosophy.
And then there is the case of former Alabama Judge Roy Moore. Moore defeated interim Senator Luther Strange in a September Republican primary. The Republican establishment, headed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, cringed and held their collective breathes that Moore would not prove even more of an embarrassment than he already was.
Well, that didn’t take long. As women have come forth and told their stories to the Washington Post and elsewhere, all hell has broken loose. The stories included one that reported a fourteen year-old girl had been sexually assaulted by Moore, who was in his 30’s at the time. The latest report involved a girl who was 16 years-old at the time of the Moore assault.
Moore, of course, denied the charges and attacked the victims and the newspaper. At first Republican officeholders and party officials, except for John McCain, reacted by saying they were shocked by the reports, and said that, if true, Moore should leave the senate race. “If true” is the sexual indiscretions equivalent of the “thoughts and prayers” excuse used by politicians who cannot bring themselves to act in any serious legislative way after a mass shooting.
And then “if true” began to shift with a creeping acknowledgement on the part of some Republicans that the words of the accusers are more credible than those of Moore. Even Geraldo Rivera, a lackey who appears on Fox News, told Sean Hannity last week that he believed the accusers. On Monday Mitch McConnell dropped the “if true” line, saying he believes the accusers and that Moore must step aside. Some other Republican senators followed suit.
Moore will not step aside. It is legally too late unless the Alabama Republican Party takes action. He is a class A jerk whose holier-than-thou attitudes have met their comeuppance, but even in the face of the pedophilia reports, fifty pastors in Alabama endorsed him (!) on Monday. He’s raising money off of what’s going on!
Alabama is as red a state as there is in the union and has not elected a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years. Republicans in the state are either standing by Moore or are too afraid of how they will personally and politically suffer if they challenge Moore. The Trump-Bannon cabal will stand by him. The Russians will probably get on the Moore bandwagon one way or another.
I know what my Republican friends are thinking if they have gotten this far into this post: what about the Democrats similarly accused? What about all the Democrats who lost their jobs and more because of their failings? My answer is simple: those who have broken the law and done unthinkable things, regardless of their party affiliation, can all rot away in some extremely hot place.
I would imagine that the Republicans who are still actively supporting Moore, or who are simply hiding under their desks, have already righteously condemned and convicted Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and the others so accused, without raising the “if true” reservation. There shouldn’t be any difference concerning Moore.
The world of Roy Moore is the world that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon have created and nurtured. Those who support it and those who waffle on it are guilty of the highest level of hypocrisy, which should be reserved for those whose words and actions try to create the image of someone who is morally superior to the rest of us mere mortals.
Whether Moore is elected or not, the political consequences for the Republican Party are basically the same. If he is defeated, his slimy character will have cost the Party a critical seat in the Senate. If the dirt ball is elected either there will be an extremely messy effort to expel him from the seat, or he will become a long-lasting drag on the Party and the Senators who he sits next to in the Senate Chamber, in hearing rooms and in political conversations that will echo throughout the 2018 congressional elections.
Moore, for Republicans, is an example of the Pottery Barn rule: you break it, you own it. The party has tried to thread the needle between big business interests, who are expecting big tax cut payoffs for their diligent support of a Republican Congress and President, and those Americans who desperately need help to live life a little bit easier. As the Obamacare “repeal and replace” debacle showed, and as the current debate on taxes may repeat, those divergent interests between big business and rank-and-file Americans do not, in most cases, overlap. With the Republicans in charge of everything in Washington they have found that governing is a lot harder than campaigning, and that legislative choices, like elections, have consequences.
I’m not offering this as any kind of an endorsement, but people like Ohio Governor John Kasich have consistently demonstrated that political courage lives, but not in too many souls at the moment. People of goodwill need to recognize the need to accept compromise, tone down the rhetoric, and get to work.
As for what else happened when the three men went into the bar, we’ll just have to wait for the punch lines.