One of the hardest things for observers (especially secular Yankee observers) of Alabama’s GOP special Senate primary to grasp is that the things that would make Judge Roy Moore a total joke in most of the country just aren’t that controversial among Alabama Republicans. And this is why Luther Strange and his backers keep going after “the Ayatollah of Alabama” from the right, treating him as a Big Government swamp creature determined to thwart Donald Trump’s righteous crusade against liberalism.
We had a prime example just today. CNN reported that Moore told a Baptist church audience that 9/11 might have represented God’s punishment of the United States for our acceptance of “sodomy” and abortion. This was not in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, mind you, when people were saying all sorts of crazy things. It was in February of this year.
This exact line of “reasoning” got the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in trouble; Falwell wound up apologizing for remarks he made just a few days after the attacks. You’d think this might have produced an opening for opponents of Moore’s campaign to address his, er, exotic views on church-state separation and his tendency to speak for Almighty God (an angry Old Testament God for the most part, as the 9/11 remarks showed). That’s particularly true of Alabama business interests, which really could do without having to worry about Alabama’s image as a cultural backwater being reinforced in a vivid, unforgettable way in the United States Senate.
This very day, a spokesperson for the Alabama Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Strange, did indeed go after Judge Roy: for being supported by trial lawyers.
Maybe this odd effort to make one of the far right’s great heroes out as some kind of liberal will work. But if it doesn’t, and Moore goes on to lose to Democrat Doug Jones, or wins and proceeds to embarrass Alabama regularly, Alabama Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves.