There is no bigger political insider than one who embraces and is embraced by the swamp – one who engages in the two-faced messaging and money game – the minute he steps foot in the muck. Likewise, there is no greater outsider than one who confronts the system and risks his entire livelihood to maintain his principles rather than place his political position above principle at all costs. This is essentially the dichotomy that embodies in the emerging Alabama Senate race between Judge Roy Moore and appointed Senator Luther Strange.
While Judge Roy Moore punctuated the generic GOP talking points about marriage and judicial tyranny with action, Luther Strange ran for the hills. Yet he has the nerve to put out TV ads, sponsored by lobbyist money, touting himself as a champion of our values. This has become the standard operating procedure of those who put on our jerseys in the primaries so they can score points for the other team after assuming office.
It didn’t take long for Luther Strange to learn the strange and duplicitous modus operandi of GOP establishment candidates. They join with the swamp, collect millions of dollars from the swamp to put out ads touting how conservative they are, vote with conservatives (but remain publicly silent on the issues) while they have a primary challenge, then get reelected and follow the bidding of those who gave them the money, not the content of the ads they used to trick voters.
Strange is strangely silent on the consummate GOP betrayals of our time, but he is making a loud splash on Alabama’s airwaves. Flush with cash from McConnell super-PACs and personal donations, Strange is up with a 100-second ad depicting himself as Mr. Clean It Up. He had the temerity to credit himself for investigating the disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley, when actually Strange solicited and secured the appointment to the Senate from Bentley. Worse, as we noted before, Bentley was so supportive of Strange that he attempted to stack the deck for him by breaking precedent and not holding a special election until 2018, thereby giving Strange the power of incumbency. In fact, Luther Strange asked the state House to suspend the investigation into Bentley. The ad is full of other bald-faced lies, as chronicled by a local columnist.
The funny thing is that even though McConnell has gone all in for him (even though he is not a legitimate incumbent and obtained his incumbency through the very corruption he depicts in this ad), Luther Strange voted against the budget betrayal. Strange has hired all of Sen. Richard Shelby’s staff, and almost all of the establishment Republican senators from the region voted for the bill. But interestingly enough, despite his silence on the issues, Strange voted no!
Strange’s ad continues with another fake newspaper headline about him fighting gay marriage. What a joke! Like every Republican, he won’t lift a finger even to talk about the issue, much less demand legislation stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage. He’s only saying this because of Roy Moore. And in fact, the proof is in the pudding, because while Strange was attorney general of Alabama, with the most influence to help Moore when he was persecuted with unprecedented action for upholding existing marriage law, Strange was appallingly silent. And at that point, there was no reason to believe the two of them would ever be senatorial primary opponents.
If Strange actually wanted to place accurate headlines in his ad, he’d use this one from AL.com:
Worse, while Judge Moore was valiantly fighting for the rule of law, Strange did the exact opposite. Like his puppetmasters in D.C., he referred to gay marriage as “the law of the land,” as AL.com reports:
This is why we can’t ever heal this broken party. We have Republicans like Strange who run on our issues to get elected but will never even utter a word about, much less fight for, our causes, particularly on social issues, once they win. It’s analogous to pushing your way into a draft pick but then refusing to make the tackles when you get a spot on the defensive line.
Aren’t you sick of this game? We called it the Hatch effect, named after Sen. Orrin Hatch, whereby establishment Republicans quietly get a hall pass from McConnell to vote against bad legislation (but still won’t lift a finger to fight it or criticize it in a meaningful way) until their primary is over and then go back to their old ways. Gee, if Strange were so proud of his “no” vote, why didn’t he tout this in the ad and boldly declare his independence from leadership and how he will stand for conservative values, even when it runs up against his own Senate leader and the president? Once he is airing fake newspaper headlines about a fake involvement in investigating Bentley, why not at least have fake policy ads?
What does it say about Strange that he is so quickly embraced by the swamp monsters and lobbyists in Washington? Is this really how we are going to fill the seat of Jeff Sessions?
The red states of the south are full of wasted space and RINOS – Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) – the list goes on and on. Can we have one consistent constitutional conservative from the south who has integrity and principles? Is that too much to ask?
The question for conservatives is: will they take yes for an answer?
Editor’s note: The author has endorsed Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. This article has also been updated to include hyperlinks to both of the AL.com articles the author references.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.