Even Trump can’t control Trumpism.
The sweeping victory by
The Alabama Senate runoff leaves fragile governing coalitions with an even more tenuous grasp on power, leaving the Trump agenda in further peril and reordering the 2018 landscape. Still, the scrambling of political loyalties and agendas just might be a development President Trump would welcome.
This is a setback with consequences as nuanced as the odd circumstances that left Trump and McConnell on the same side of this peculiar race in the first place. Among the big winners is
Bannon directly addressed the Republican establishment in his election-eve appearance for Moore, naming McConnell,
Moore’s primary victory will invite Democrats to invest in a deep-red state in advance of the December general election. But the likeliest final outcome will be the addition a Republican senator with a famously combative streak that figures to have him frustrating legislative efforts.
Moore in the Senate will leave McConnell with yet another hard-to-corral member of his caucus -– maybe one more difficult to get in line than even
On Tuesday, while
Those close to Trump expect him to lash out at McConnell over the loss, particularly after Senate Republicans fell short yet again in efforts to repeal and replace
It’s exceedingly unlikely that this particular confluence of events will present themselves again, in 2018 or basically ever. Trump and McConnell put their combined political weight behind Strange, who was appointed by a governor who has since resigned in scandal, out of loyalty and a hope that he would offer more predictable support for
Lining up against Trump were Bannon and other anti-establishment figures, including another former White House aide, Sebastian Gorka, and
Trump seemed to second-guess his endorsement on Friday, in a campaign rally that of course got overshadowed by his comments about the NFL.
“I might have made a mistake,” Trump told the crowd at the rally. “They’re going to say, ‘
All that may be said, along with the fact that there is not likely to be another Senate candidate quite as colorful as Moore. Twice he was forced off the state Supreme Court because he defied federal court edicts.
He has said homosexual conduct should be illegal and that he believes President Obama was not born in the United States. At his own election-eve rally, he whipped out a gun to demonstrate his support for the
Fundamentally, though he praises Trump effusively, he may not be a reliable vote for Trump’s agenda. Moore has developed a reputation as an ideologue, whereas the president by nature is a dealmaker.
Few expect the president to do anything but declare victory, in a race where both Republicans raced to be more pro-Trump. But this victory will carry severe consequences for policy, while pointing to the limits the president himself faces in corralling the forces that propelled him to office.