It is almost impossible for us here at LR Net to make sense of the Roy Moore story at the moment. Ever since it hit the wires last week, we’ve been a bit overwhelmed by reports of what he did or did not do with fourteen year old girls when he was in his 30s. Article after article, story after story, and revelation after revelation have appeared and vanished in rapid succession.
Clearly, Moore is not on the side of the angels, and we’d be delighted to see him exit the political stage…preferably into a maximum security facility where the other inmates may do what they do best with what we’re informed are called “short eyes” in jail house argot. But, we’ve been fascinated by the degree of animosity which the man seems to have generated in the GOP itself.
Indeed, it seems to us that the real political story here is in the battle between (on one side) the old school GOP leadership and (on the other) the Trumpsters, Tea Partiers, alt-rightists, Breitbart readers, and all the rest of the impassioned crew that’s taking over the Republican Party even as we watch. For more on this struggle, see, for example, As Roy Moore declines to step aside, a tale of two Republican parties emerges by James Hohmann in The Washington Post.
Perhaps that clash was predictable. What took us by surprise, however, was just how calculated it might all be. For example, in a fascinating article, Roy Moore scandal in Alabama might slow Bannon’s insurgency, GOP leaders hope, John Ward, senior political correspondent for Yahoo news, suggests that Republican insiders have deliberately selected the l’affaire de Moore as a weapon in its struggle with the outsiders—to wit, the aforementioned Trumpsters/alt-rightists/etc., plus Moore himself, and most of all, Steve Bannon.
This is not to say that the Old Guard created the scandal. There is no evidence of a manufactured smear campaign of outright lies and innuendo (not, for example, like the swiftboating of John Kerry). But it does seem that Moore has become a weapon of choice for the Republican leadership.
And why not? Moore defeated (and humiliated) a GOP Old Timer to get the nomination. Moore was one of Steve Bannon’s favorites. Bannon has said pretty openly that he plans to unseat any Republican in Congress who doesn’t belong to him. So, naturally, the Old Guard is going to fight back, and with any blunt instrument that comes to hand.
Which means, of course, that the extraordinarily detailed coverage of Moore’s adventures …with seemingly hourly updates…looks a bit more comprehendible. One wonders, in fact, how many of the dozens of stories about the man are the products of the “biased Liberal media” (a mythical beast if there ever was one), and how many may show the work of a fine Republican hand.
It is a question that Mr. Bannon and the lads and lasses of Breitbart must be considering even now.
One wonders, in fact, what skeletons they might find when (as they certainly will) they explore the closets of the good old boys, and girls, of the GOP.