Editor's Note: Every Friday, Tom Keane offers up assorted observations, conundra and miscellanea about the week that was. Here's his round-up for the week ending Dec. 15, 2017.
It was the week when Moore was less.
With apologies to Lewis Carroll
And, has thou slain the Roymoorewock?
Come to my arms, my Dougish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
Ds chortled in their joy.
Fantasy world. Any chance Roy Moore had to redeem himself was lost, as days after his defeat, he refused to concede. “The battle rages on,” he told supporters, sounding for all the world like those Japanese soldiers who – decades years after the end of World War II – continued to fight. The difference: Those soldiers were cut off from the world. Moore has the benefit of modern communications. On the other hand, the guy still rides a horse into town to vote, so maybe he doesn’t?
20,715 votes. The election in Alabama became a surrogate for a host of national issues: The #MeToo movement, Democrats versus Republicans and the GOP’s internal battle between the renegade Trump/Bannon wing and its more traditional establishment. For the moment, #MeToo, Dems and the establishment won and from the sound of some post-Election Day cheering, they think they won big. But still. Doug Jones’ share of the vote was only 1.54 percent more than Moore’s, meaning almost half of the electorate was OK with a pedophile, supported the GOP, and stood with the renegades. As Moore might say, “The battle rages on.”
Meanwhile, back at home. Aside from being a surrogate for national politics, Alabamians had their own reasons to seek change. The state’s conservative politics have left it ranking near the bottom on almost every measure of well-being, be it healthcare (47th), education (also 47th), or its economy (45th). If the stuff you’re doing isn’t working, maybe it’s time to try something new.
Wild and crazy. After Moore’s loss, Republican Rep. Pete King of New York called out Steve Bannon, saying he “looked like a disheveled drunk that wandered onto the national stage.” That line, of course, was impolite, impolitic and politically incorrect. But who amongst us hasn’t thought the same thing? True, he could be as handsome as a movie star and still espouse the same garbage. But Bannon’s bad shave, mottled skin and wild hair gives the impression he doesn’t care – about himself or his country. Sometimes you can tell the book by the cover.
The rich get richer and the poor lose healthcare. Almost lost in all the attention on Alabama was the GOP’s tax legislation. The House-Senate conference committee apparently reached agreement on a final plan. The corporate tax rate would drop from 35 percent to 21 percent and the highest personal rate would drop from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. In addition, the bill would get rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate. It’s a two-fer! Tax reform and Obamacare repeal wrapped up in one.
Dim wit. ISIS was quick to claim credit for a pipe bomb explosion in New York’s Times Square. I don’t know. Apparent suicide bomber Akayed Ullah appears a model of ineptness, accidentally setting off the explosive that left him burned – and very much alive. ISIS might want to hold off on the bragging.
Andy Warhol was right. Sometimes, the efforts to trash Trump go too far. This week’s example: Stacia Robitaille. The wife of hockey player Luc Robitaille tweeted that more than 20 years ago Trump tried to pick her up, telling her in an elevator, “my husband didn’t make as much money as him.” Sorry. This sounds more like an effort for 15 minutes of fame than anything of substance. And it undermines the real stories of genuine harassment told by other women who actually were victims of our now-president.
Campaign finance. Trump tweeted that New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would “come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).” Gillibrand called the tweet a “sexist smear” – that Trump was saying she was offering sexual favors for money. An alternative – and probably more accurate – reading of Trump’s words are that he was saying Gillibrand was willing to change policies or alter legislation in exchange for a donation. And by the way, that’s far worse.