Politics & Policy

The Garbage Case for Roy Moore

Steve Bannon speaks at a campaign event for Roy Moore in Fairhope, Ala., December 5, 2017. (Reuters photo: Jonathan Bachman)
It’s not worth trying too hard to unpack Steve Bannon’s spiel.

In his Alabama appearance for Roy Moore, Steve Bannon turned in an intellectually and morally putrid performance even by his standards.

There is a partisan case for voting for Moore, which is simply that Republicans can’t afford to lose a Senate seat and Moore’s failings must be ignored or rationalized away for the larger good of the party.

This is not an elevated line of reasoning and not obviously correct on its own terms. With Democrats throwing John Conyers and Al Franken overboard, Senate Republicans would be welcoming into their ranks a potent symbol of sexual malfeasance to be used against them.

It’s a better argument, though, than the tawdry justifications offered up by Bannon.

He seems to misunderstand the nature of the deplorables he seeks to lead. “Deplorable” is supposed to be an unfair, disparaging term for people who believe reasonable but politically incorrect things. It shouldn’t be a license for conduct that is truly deplorable.

As Democrats at long last begin to dump Bill Clinton, Bannon wants to adopt the ethics of the party of Clinton. In Alabama, he used that phrase redolent of the 1990s, “the politics of personal destruction.” Who is doing the destroying? Why, the globalists, of course.

It’s not clear why they would be so fixated on defeating Moore that they’d work behind the scenes to get a bunch of women who don’t know each other to lie about him. It’s a lot of effort to defeat a man who is arguing he should be elected to provide another vote for corporate tax cuts.

Bannon referred to a conspiracy against Donald Trump in how the Access Hollywood tape was brought to light, somewhat jocularly. But his mindset is deeply conspiratorial. Because there are so many forces arrayed against you — the globalists, the establishment, the media — you are freed of any moral responsibility or standards.

In fact, the mere mention of “honor” or “integrity” is a terrible provocation. Bannon launched a scurrilous attack on Mitt Romney because the former Republican presidential nominee used those terms in opposing Moore. Bannon shot back, in a truly perverse riff, that Moore has more honor in his “pinkie” than the entire Romney clan; per Bannon, Moore served in Vietnam and Romney didn’t, and none of Romney’s sons joined the military.

Obviously, if going to Vietnam and having kids who served in the military is the sole measure of honor, Trump fails the test, and John McCain passes it. This doesn’t stop Bannon from considering Trump a hero and McCain a disgrace. But it’s not worth trying too hard to unpack Bannon’s spiel.

There is a huge element of play-acting here. Bannon waited to see which way the wind was blowing in Alabama. If Moore were still running consistently behind Democrat Doug Jones, Bannon wouldn’t be holding a campaign rally for him and challenging Romney to come down to Alabama to prove his manhood.

The urgency to get the party to back Moore-type candidates isn’t immediately apparent. If the point is just to hold Republican Senate seats, safer, more conventional Republicans are better suited to the task. If the point is just to support the Trump agenda, safer, more conventional candidates are as reliable, and perhaps more reliable than the likes of Moore, who opposed the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill.

Part of the point has to be to elect candidates who have no standards for the sake of it. Bannon may be thinking ahead to a time when the Trump sex allegations become a live issue again or when a true scandal emerges from the Robert Mueller investigation. In this scenario, will there be anyone more naturally inclined to be dismissive of the accusers or other evidence than Judge Roy Moore?

Bannon may also believe that a GOP with a highly attuned ethical sense can’t truly be the party of the working class. In which case, who is the one who has contempt for the “rubes”?

READ MORE:

The Roy Moore Scandal and Political Outrage

Roy Moore — Sexual Misconduct Allegations Are Credible

Roy Moore’s Defenders Betray Conservative Women

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. Copyright © 2017 King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More