Ben Sasse: If the NRSC re-endorses Roy Moore, I'm out

I don’t think he needs to worry about that. The NRSC is led this year by Cory Gardner from the very purple state of Colorado. Democrats will hang Moore around the necks of all Republicans if he wins next week but Gardner will get it the worst if the NRSC jumps back in on Moore’s behalf. He can’t afford that when he’s facing a perennially tough reelection bid in the Rockies in 2020. That’s also why he was one of the first Republicans (actually, the very first, I think) to call for expelling Moore from the Senate after the WaPo scandal story broke. He’s trying to brand himself, and the GOP’s entire crop of Senate candidates in the midterms, as conspicuously anti-Moore before Dems take advantage.

So Sasse has nothing to worry about here. But if you scroll through his tweets last night, you’ll see a microcosm of a party in crisis. First he dinged Jeff Flake for donating to Democrat Doug Jones:

Then he circled back to institutional Republican support for Moore from the White House and the RNC, which announced that it was transferring $170,000 to Alabama for Moore’s benefit:

I don’t know what he means by “This sends a terrible message,” as if the RNC is unintentionally communicating something it doesn’t mean to communicate. The message it’s sending is precisely what the party’s stance is: It doesn’t care if Moore’s accusers are telling the truth. Any sin is forgivable if you vote the right way, particularly if the other guy is a partial-birth abortion fanatic. If pressed on that the RNC’s spokesman would deflect by mumbling something about how there’s no way to tell which side is telling the truth, but that ambivalence is expedient. Republicans aren’t backing Moore because they doubt his accusers, they doubt his accusers because they’re backing Moore. Concluding that this is some grand conspiracy despite the fact that WaPo wasn’t fed these women’s stories but went out and found them is the only way to ease the internal moral quandary about voting for him, especially now that Democrats are on the brink of purging Conyers *and* Franken. Without the “Democrats do it too” excuse (I know, I know, “Bill Clinton!”), the only way to justify voting for a guy who’s been accused of what Moore is accused of instead of staying home is to conclude that every woman involved here is a sociopath lying to ruin a good man. Even the women among them who voted for Trump last year.

Maybe Al Franken should announce tomorrow morning that instead of resigning he’s switching parties. Then he could continue to serve indefinitely. Speaking of which, Moore’s opponent is naturally taking advantage of today’s Franken purge:

That’s cynical in all sorts of ways. Why didn’t Jones call on Franken to quit until he had cover from Senate Democrats? Why did those Democrats call on Franken to quit only now, with the Alabama election days anyway and Jones obviously standing to benefit from a sudden new “no pervs in the Senate” rule? Would Democrats be piling on Franken if Minnesota had a Republican governor and they had a 51-seat majority? It’s all politics but in this case raw politics has produced a good end, which is sending creepy Al Franken into retirement and strengthening the idea of zero tolerance for sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill. Democrats are at least 60 years, two presidents, and a few dozen Kennedys too late, but if you’re going to make progress you need to start somewhere. Now they get a consolation prize if Moore comes through on Tuesday night, the opportunity to bark on all of the cable news networks that they’ve dutifully moved to purge their own predators — since, er, December 2017 — while Republicans have become the party of Trump and Roy Moore.

The latest poll out of Alabama shows Moore up seven points, by the way, 50/43. Usually, as we get closer to an election, the polls start to converge on a basic state of the race. In this case they’re all over the board — within the past week alone there have been multiple polls showing Doug Jones ahead by three points or better and multiple polls showing Moore ahead by six points or better. Someone’s going to have egg on their face Tuesday night.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022