McConnell’s New Motto: The Moore, the Merrier

Well, it’s not like he had any principles, anyway.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who once pretended to be outraged about the perceived perversity of Alabama US Senate candidate Roy Moore, made it clear today that he doesn’t think the alleged dirty old man is all that dirty:

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who has argued for weeks that Roy S. Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate, should leave the race, said on Sunday that he was “going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”

Asked during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week” whether he thought Mr. Moore, who has been accused of preying on teenage girls, should be in the Senate, Mr. Connell said the decision should be left to the Dec. 12 special election.

“This election has been going on a long time,” Mr. McConnell said. “There has been a lot of discussion about it. They are going to make the decision a week from Tuesday.”

In the past, Mr. McConnell had said that he was looking at drafting a write-in candidate for the election, and that if Mr. Moore, a Republican, won the race, he would support a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the allegations against him.

But on Sunday, Mr. McConnell seemed to accept that Mr. Moore, who has denied the allegations, would not be stepping down with only days remaining before the vote.

It’s hard to believe that less than three years ago, McConnell was mourning the passing of Senator Edward Brooke, the first African-American to be elected to the United States Senate and one of the last actual moderate Republicans ever to serve in either the Senate or House of Representatives; Brooke, who fought in vain to stop the wingnutization of his party, is presumably turning over in his grave at the thought of Moore becoming Alabama’s next US Senator, now with McConnell’s subtle blessing.

Of course, it seems that Alabama Republicans don’t have any principles, either (and no, winning at all costs is not a principle):

A new CBS News poll finds 71 percent of Alabama Republicans say the allegations against Roy Moore are false, and those who believe this also overwhelmingly believe Democrats and the media are behind those allegations.

The poll found 92 percent of Republicans who don’t believe the allegations against Moore say the Democrats are behind the charges, and 88 percent say newspapers and the media are behind them.

Multiple women have come forward to accuse Moore of inappropriately pursuing or touching them when they were teenagers. The youngest woman to accuse Moore says she was 14 and he was 32 at the time.

The Senate contest looks to be highly dependent on turnout. Moore has a lead over Democrat Doug Jones, 49 percent to 43 percent, among the likely voters who are most apt to vote on Dec. 12. Among all registered voters, the contest is even. And nearly a quarter of voters still describe themselves as “maybe” or “probably” going to vote.

A majority of Alabama Republican voters (53 percent) say the allegations against Moore are a concern, but that other things matter more. One-third of Republicans say the allegations are not a concern to them.

The poll describes a picture of many Republican voters choosing based on other issues: Half of Moore’s supporters say they are backing him mainly because they want a senator who will cast conservative votes in the Senate, rather than because they think Moore is the best person for the job.

If Moore wins, it would be wrong to say Alabama will henceforth go down in history as the state where people will vote for the most repulsive person around so long as they have an (R) next to their name. Alabama already earned that designation in 1996, when the state elected Jeff Sessions to the US Senate ten years after he was deemed too bigoted to be a US District Court judge. Also, if Moore wins, Republicans will not expel him from the Senate. They will embrace him.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.