It’s Midnight in Mobile
Dateline – South of South Carolina
Alabama will decide tomorrow whether Roy Moore or Doug Jones will be its next U.S. Senator. Forecasters say the election is too close to call. That’s because the forecasters are using polling data. You know how unreliable polls can be.
If anybody knows who the winner will be, she’s in Alabama right now and has been there all her life. She talks to lots of people in her line of work, hundreds of people every day, and she knows her people. She’s right there, standing on the street or sitting in a car or behind a store counter. She knows but nobody’s asked her.
Roy Moore was a legend long before this election. He first surfaced nationally when he defied a court order directing him to remove a Ten Commandants display from his courthouse. He was booted off the Supreme Court of Alabama. He got reelected a few years later but he got removed again. This time he ordered Alabama judges not to recognize same-sex marriages after the US Supreme Court said that was unconstitutional.
Moore ran for Governor twice, both times losing in the primaries. He ruled on a few sexual assault cases. Jones put out an ad saying that Moore ruled in favor of the sex offenders. That isn’t quite true; his votes would have affected a re-trial of the cases.
His opponent and the media have taken a lively interest in Moore’s misadventures since a woman in her thirties accused Moore of assaulting her when she was 14 years old. In Alabama, that was and is against the law. And Moore must have known, because he was a district attorney at the time, one of those fellows whose job is to put away people who break the law.
Other women have told similar stories. Moore admits to dating some teenagers when he was in his thirties but says the girls were all of legal age. Ah, but did he check their learner’s permits? The age of the girls is not the point. The point is that they saw Moore as a powerful man, and that’s the reason that a lot of girls wouldn’t stop him or didn’t tell their stories.
At any other time, Moore would have been run out of town on a rail. But this is not just any time. It’s tax bill time. First, the Republican National Committee pulled back and cut off funds to the campaign. Realizing that they would need Moore’s vote to pass their tax plan, the Republicans have closed ranks. Even the future ex-President flip-flopped for Moore. At least Trump was candid: anyone but a liberal democrat.
You don’t hear much about Doug Jones. He started as a staff attorney for the U.S, Senate Judiciary Committee. After that, he went home to Dixie to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. After a few years he went into private practice but returned to government work when Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Attorney. After that, he’s bounced in and out of government appointments. His appointments have been political. There’s no record that Jones had to be relieved of his post. Jones considers himself a middle of the road kind of guy. He wants to reduce corporate taxes but would vote against the tax bill.
Democrats have been pouring money and a ground-game into the Jones campaign, especially in the last few days. If there is a big turnout, particularly among African-Americans, Jones could pull off an upset. The Republicans are all-in too. They are throwing all their resources at this election, because a Moore victory makes passage of the tax bill feasible, and a Jones victory makes it dead on arrival.
In all the hullabaloo about the political impact of the election, some people have taken their eyes off the sparrow. Not Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator and a Republican. Shelby said he believed the accuser and added that Jeff Sessions said he had no reason to doubt her story. Shelby said, “”I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.” Shelby made his statement on CNN, which guarantees it would be aired three times per hour, not at a Birmingham Botanical Garden fund-raiser.
The odds are good that even if Moore wins, he won’t be in Washington long; maybe long enough to cast one vote.