Doug Jones is a career prosecutor, famous for his role in convicting Ku Klux Klan members and terrorists. Roy Moore is a theocratic demagogue, famous for nullifying court orders and (allegedly) sexually harassing and assaulting so many teenage girls, he got himself banned from the Gadsden Mall.
On Tuesday, President Trump suggested that Alabamians should vote for Moore over Jones in the state’s upcoming special Senate election — because the alleged sexual predator’s rival was “soft on crime.”
“He’s terrible on the border, he’s terrible on the military,” Trump said of the Democratic candidate Tuesday. “I can tell you, you don’t need someone who’s soft on crime like Jones.”
Sometimes, it feels like the Trump administration’s overriding ambition is to prove that every liberal “caricature” of the American right is correct. With its health-care and tax plans, the White House confirmed that fiscal conservatism isn’t driven by a desire to reduce the deficit, but by a passion for increasing inequality. Meanwhile, with his vulgarity and (alleged) sexual predation, Trump has validated the notion that (much of) American religious conservatism is less concerned with upholding traditional sexual morality than subjugating women.
And now, with his remarks on the Jones-Moore race, the president has affirmed the left’s decades-old contention that “law-and-order” conservatism isn’t animated by a reverence for the rule of law so much as a reactionary rage at challenges to the social order — which is to say, the social hierarchy (which is to say, in most cases, white supremacy).
Trump had already lent credence to this argument when he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, after Maricopa County’s favorite proto-fascist had directly subverted law and order by refusing to honor a legally binding court order. But at least in that case, there was a halfway coherent (if completely wrong and racist) argument that Arpaio’s refusal to abandon racial profiling was motivated by a concern for countering violent crime.
But now, Trump has shed that fig leaf. If the president believes that an alleged, serial sexual abuser of teenage girls (who wants to deport law-abiding undocumented immigrants) is “tougher on crime” than a lifelong prosecutor (who has little interest in deporting law-abiding, undocumented immigrants) than what, do you suppose, he means by crime?