Luther Strange has a name that captures the essence of modern American politics.
On Tuesday, the Alabama senator faces a very important special election, a runoff against Judge Roy Moore. Strange was appointed to his seat under the most questionable of circumstances. For those that don’t know Alabama politics, pay attention. There are national implications.
When President Donald Trump appointed Jeff Sessions as United States Attorney General, Governor Robert Bentley appointed the state attorney general – Strange – to temporarily fill the senate seat. This, alone, is not a big deal, but Governor Bentley may have had his own reasons to select Strange
In March of 2016, Bentley’s wife of fifty years divorced him just before an explicit phone conversation with an aide became public. Republicans distanced themselves from the Governor, amidst allegations of impropriety related to the affair. The Alabama Ethics Commission said Bentley may have broken the law. There were allegations Bentley may have illegally loaned money to his campaign to cover legal fees for his lover, and that Bentley may have fired the state’s top cop after he saw a sexually explicit message from the aid. Bentley appointed Strange to replace Sessions just as Strange was considering investigating the governor.
Now, I don’t personally know Strange. I’ve heard he is a decent guy and there is no evidence that he there appointment necessitated any quid pro quo, but the appointment under these circumstances certainly reeks of the “swamp behavior” Trump claims to hate. It seems like an odd political move to associate oneself with Strange, but that’s exactly what Trump did, which was a brand damaging move for two reasons.
First, considering the backlash he received following the leak of his own lewd comments, Trump doesn’t need to unnecessarily associate himself with a cover-up of sexual indiscretion. Second, it reveals the truth behind all that “drain the swamp” rhetoric. Namely, he’s not going to do it.
Why did Trump endorse this crooked Senator? He did it at the behest of Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is probably one of the most prominent “swamp creatures” in Washington D.C. It’s a shame. Trump painted himself as an “outsider,” a man of the people. Trump didn’t have to endorse Strange. There were others in the race he could have chosen, including Mo Brooks. By siding with McConnell and Strange, Trump has put himself on the side of dishonor and dishonesty.
All polling shows Strange is likely to lose the runoff. He performed well below expectations in the primary, even with Trump’s endorsement and millions of dollars spent by McConnell on his behalf. Why are Alabamans not responding to Trump’s endorsement and McConnell’s millions?
Simple. Alabamans still believe in honor, and Strange got his current seat in a very dishonorable way. In this tone-deaf political endorsement, Trump may have overestimated the people’s appetite for affairs and cover-ups. It makes sense. After all, Trump himself was elected in spite of grave moral issues. Trump though, was elected because he ran against one of the most crooked and despised individuals in American politics.
I don’t usually predict outcomes, because my crystal ball isn’t that good but, I’m willing to say Strange will lose – and by a landslide. In resisting Strange, Alabamans are sending the President a powerful rebuke: he better drain that swamp, just as he was elected to do.
Perspectives expressed in op-eds are not those of The Daily Caller.