- - Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Roy Moore leaves the stage with a gift for both Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans won’t have to share the stage with him ever again, and the Democrats, who tried and failed to win even one of a succession of special elections this year, have finally got what they couldn’t get on their own.

Gleeful Democrats are counting now on further help from Republicans, confident that the election of Doug Jones will complicate if not doom Republican efforts to win something, such as his tax legislation, for President Trump.

The defeat of Mr. Moore is a relief for Sen. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, who won’t have to deal with a fight, which was surely coming, over whether to seat Mr. Moore. The states have a right to elect their senators, but the Senators have a right to determine whom they embrace as colleague.

But Democrats who imagine that the result in Alabama proves restored prowess, moving into the midterm congressional elections in other states, must keep in mind that the Tuesday result only demonstrates that a Democratic candidate can do well if he draws a suspected child molester as his opponent. The Alabama race was sui generis, one of a kind.

Nevertheless, as the president himself said in a gracious tweet of congratulations to Doug Jones, “a win is a win.” The immediate price will be considerable for the Republicans in the Senate. “Despite his campaign vow to ‘cross the aisle’ to work with Republicans,” observes The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Jones will fit right in with Senate Democrats. He will be a reliable vote for Chuck Schumer on any important matter, including judicial nominees. Had he shown even a scintilla of moderation on abortion, for example, he would have won in a rout.”

But some Democratic media voices apparently observed the Alabama race from a distant parallel universe. An observer from New Yorker magazine says there is “little for anyone in the [Republican] party to take credit for now [Roy] Moore lost because [Mr.] Jones beat him. He did so with the help of the national Democratic Party, and its associated resources but also presenting himself as a person who believed in certain principles and in the state of Alabama. He also, notably, won without backing away from his support for [abortion].”

Indeed, Alabama will have a clear liberal voice in the U.S. Senate for the next three years, and this will free Doug Jones to be as liberal as his party wants him to be. Though he is not a career politician, he knows politics and his state well enough to understand that Alabama voters, who remain as red as ever, will have had their snoots full of national Democrats by the time the Jones era ends in 2020.

Democrats celebrating taking back the Senate next year seem oblivious to the arithmetic. Democrats must defend 23 seats they now hold, along with the two de-caf Democrats who caucus with them, and the Republicans will defend only eight seats, of whom only two are considered vulnerable to Democratic challenge. Several Democratic senators, however, are thought to be vulnerable.

The news might be good for Al Franken of Minnesota, beset by allegations by women, all of legal age and some of whom presented fairly flimsy evidence, that he sexually harassed them. Mr. Franken has not resigned, as many seem to think. He has promised only to resign at some time in the future. He was under pressure from his party to quit because the leadership wanted to demonstrate acceptable party “hygiene” in its expected campaign against Roy Moore next year. But with the defeat of Mr. Moore, Al Franken can have an epiphany — that fortune wants him to remain in the Senate. Who among the Democrats would say him nay now?

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