Poor Al Franken. The Minnesota Democrat was kicked to the curb by a party that, until a few months ago, not only turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct but also lionized serial predators such as Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy. So why was Franken a bridge too far for Democrats? Because he stood in the way of their effort to claim the moral high ground when Roy Moore was elected to the United States Senate.
Democrats were looking forward to spending the next year wrapping Moore around the necks of Republicans. They were gearing up for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation that would keep Moore in the spotlight and preparing to demand public hearings where his accusers could be paraded before the media. They were waiting for the cavalcade of bigoted gaffes Moore would have made. And they were ready to pummel Republicans when, in the end, the GOP-controlled Senate would fail to expel him, knowing full well there was no precedent for removing a senator from office for actions he allegedly committed decades before he was a senator, and that voters knew about before electing him.
But Moore isn't coming to Washington. The voters of conservative Republican Alabama decided that he was not worthy to represent them in the United States Senate.
The idea that Democrats could have claimed moral superiority when it comes to the sexual abuse of women was laughable to begin with. Just last year, Democrats gave Clinton, who faced credible allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct, a hero's welcome at their convention in Philadelphia. They nominated Hillary Clinton, who tood by her husband through the allegations, as their standard-bearer. And just a few years ago, they named a Senate caucus room for Ted and John F. Kennedy, both harassers as well.
Democrats will take the unexpected benefits of Doug Jones' victory, which narrows the GOP's Senate majority from 52 to 51, complicating President Donald Trump's ability to pass legislation and confirm judges (including a possible Supreme Court pick) next year. They will try to spin it as a repudiation of Trump, which it was not. (Trump maintains a 59 percent approval rating in Alabama.) And they know it means they have one less seat they need to win in order to regain control of the Senate in 2018.
But all that pales in comparison with what Moore would have done for the Democratic Party as a Republican senator. That is why so many conservatives in Alabama either wrote in another candidate or stayed home, giving Jones the victory. And it is why Alabama's senior senator, Richard C. Shelby--possibly the most astute political mind on the Republican side of the aisle--came out publicly against Moore the Sunday before the election. They knew that Moore is the Democrats' caricature of a Republican come to life. Democrats are glad to gain a Senate seat, but with a Moore victory they might have gained a whole lot more.
Editorial on 12/16/2017
Print Headline: A disappointment for Democrats