I imagine a lot of Republican lawmakers are rolling out of bed this morning, hungover, or just dead on their feet from a night of tossing and turning, after watching one more Senate seat slip to the blue.
And in Alabama, no less!
I’d say this was a turn they should have expected. The nation is now vomiting up the nationalist Ipecac that had been forced down our gullets in 2016. It only took a year.
Of course, don’t blame Trump. He wanted the purple-y wonder of Luther Strange, as he was quick to point out to the wincing Republicans of Alabama.
Bannon, however, took his special brand of arrogance straight into the heart of Alabama, and boasted of how Alabama didn’t need outsiders telling them how to vote.
He’s from Virginia, but, whatever.
Bannon was once described by conservative talker Ben Shapiro (former editor-at-large of Breitbart News) as “vindictive,” “nasty,” and as an aggressive self-promoter, who would use names bigger than himself (like Trump), as stepping stools.
We saw that in the 2016 election, when Bannon managed to insinuate himself into the Trump camp, and saw some success, managing to plant the nationalist flag firmly on Mount Trump, and then riding that wave to victory.
In Alabama, Bannon saw success in getting Roy Moore to the GOP nomination for Jeff Sessions’ vacant Senate seat, over the vastly more qualified Mo Brooks, and decidedly less embarrassing Luther Strange (if you go for the wishy-washy moderate sort).
Today, however, the stinging loss has lawmakers and politicos saying, “Drop Bannon!”
They want him out of the way. They finally see the need to try and make their way to the great egress. The Bannon/Trump-created freak show of 2016 needs to be brought under control, and to cast Steve Bannon back down to the bowels of the blogosphere from which he oozed is the beginning of that.
To that end, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal issued a strong repudiation of the former White House chief strategist.
“The Alabama result shows that Mr. Bannon cares less about conservative policy victories than he does personal king-making. He wants to depose Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader even if it costs Republicans Senate control. GOP voters, take note: Mr. Bannon is for losers,” the board wrote in an op-ed on Wednesday.
“The Moore defeat should also be a lesson to the Republican Party, and President Trump, that many GOP voters are still at heart character voters. They will only accept so much misbehavior in a politician, no matter the policy stakes,” the op-ed continued.
“Mr. Trump opposed Mr. Moore in the primary but came around to support him even after the accusations emerged about Mr. Moore’s pursuit of teenage girls while he was in his 30s. The GOP voters who ignored Mr. Trump and rejected Mr. Moore also want a President who acts presidential.”
Given the recent wave of powerful men being outed as abusers, womanizers, and perverts, the Republican party has an opportunity to regain some of the high ground (not all, considering who they chose to be the face of the party in 2016).
With Roy Moore out of the equation, now is the perfect time to begin remaking a desperately damaged party image. This was their warning shot, ahead of 2018.
The Wall Street Journal isn’t the only organization calling for the rejection of Steve Bannon and his rhetoric.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC aligned with Mitch McConnell, also skewered Bannon.
“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running. Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the United States into his fiasco,” the statement read.
This is all on Bannon.
And while Republicans will soon have a chance to regain that seat, this should serve as a lesson. When that opportunity rolls back around, oust Jones, but make sure the candidate you choose to run against him has a solid record, and isn’t just playing to the emotional firestorms created by unscrupulous voices, like Steve Bannon.
It’s the same lesson the entire Republican party needs to grasp.