You know the stakes, and if you follow Trump’s Twitter feed (and everyone does), you already know some of the nice things he’s planning to say about “Big Luther” Strange. What you don’t know, and what no one knows, is whom Trump will attack. Roy Moore? Highly unlikely. If the polls hold, Trump’s going to end up having to campaign for Moore in a few months. No sense tearing down a man now if you’ll probably need to build him up soon. Plus, Trump’s own base is all-in for Moore. Taking shots at him will only widen the rift between the president and his populist fans.
John McCain? Yeah, that’s quite a bit likelier.
By the way, when was the last time a sitting president waded into a Senate primary on one side and was opposed by members of his own cabinet on the other?
— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappas) September 22, 2017
On the other hand, “Strange is a long time personal friend of [Jeff] Sessions, and the attorney general hopes he wins, a friend of Sessions’ told TheDC.” A Sessions endorsement of Strange might be worth nearly as much as Trump’s in Alabama, if not more, but you’re not going to see the AG get involved in political fights.
While we wait, since the theme of the evening is populists acting like establishmentarians, how about a quote from an establishmentarian sounding oddly populist?
There are so many reporters who are completely biased against Trump, it’s absurd… He’s right that they’re biased against him. They’re extremely biased against him. And some play right into it. They do themselves no service with that tactic. But that doesn’t change the fact that he puts them in a dangerous place by targeting them. You’ve got the alt-right stoking every divisive fire they can. You have conservatives who see their issues diminished regularly, or ignored, or mocked. Why can’t I watch the Emmys without seeing Sean Spicer? What was he doing there? Can’t I just watch the fabulous gowns? Can’t I have an escape? Must everything be political? Everything? EVERYTHING! I’m sick of it. And I’m not the only one.
Yep, that’s Megyn Kelly, tearing up the media for its anti-Trump slant. A Trump/Kelly alliance on that point is a fitting end to a bizarro-world day that saw the longtime McCain/Graham bromance shatter over health care.
The feed below is promising a livestream of the rally. If it ends up not working, no doubt Fox News and C-SPAN will be carrying it. I wonder what role, if any, Moore’s views on gays played in Trump’s decision to back Strange instead. If Moore wins, reporters are going to pester Trump about whether he agrees with Moore circa 2015 that homosexuality should be illegal. That’ll be an annoying distraction for a president who, ah, hasn’t been a model social conservative in his own personal life and who hasn’t showed much interest in tackling “values” issues as president. Trump’s focus is on trade, immigration, and North Korea; the closest he’s come to engaging in the culture wars is the ban on transgenders in the military. The people around him in the West Wing don’t seem to be very socially conservative either, although Trump will need to be careful not to alienate evangelicals by disagreeing with Moore too sharply. I’m curious to see how Moore’s new colleagues on the Hill deal with that issue too. Even Ted Cruz, whose strategy last year was predicated (futilely) on rallying social cons against Trump, said recently that what happens in a bedroom between consenting adults is their business. It’ll be funny when Moore wins, becomes a populist darling, and suddenly “stay out of people’s bedrooms” is RINOism again.