Craziness has its limits in Alabama

Roy Moore rides his horse, Sassy, to the polling station to vote in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Roy Moore rides his horse, Sassy, to the polling station to vote in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday.

There’s a limit to crazy, after all. Good to know in these crazy times.

And you know just how crazy things are when you’re quoting Matt Drudge as a beacon of measured political insight. After Doug Jones was declared the winner of Alabama’s special Senate election Tuesday night, Drudge, the master of manic news aggregation, tweeted: “Just too much crazy . . . There IS a limit!”

With that, reasonable people of different political leanings can gratefully agree. In Alabama, Roy Moore came to represent a bridge too far for at least 671,151 voters who backed Jones, and another 22,819 who wrote in the name of another candidate, according to initial returns. While white voters largely stuck with Moore, 98 percent of black women and 93 percent of black men voted for Jones. On the other hand, 650,436 Alabamians supported Moore, the Republican who was accused of molesting teenagers when he was in his 30s; called homosexuality “an inherent evil”; denies evolution; referred to Native Americans and Asian-Americans as “reds and yellows”; and expressed fond memories for the strong family ties of slavery in America. His wife’s dismissal of claims that her husband doesn’t support blacks or Jews was another prime example of classic bigotry: “Well, one of our attorneys is a Jew.”


Crazy — isn’t it? — that in 2017, a candidate from Alabama, or any state in America, could come as close as Moore did to becoming a US senator. Honest ideological differences exist between Republicans and Democrats. But Moore’s conservative beliefs were the least of his problems. He revealed himself to the country as a mean-spirited racist and liar, with the nerve to wrap himself in the mantle of God as he preaches hate and intolerance.

Get Arguable in your inbox:
Jeff Jacoby on everything from politics to pet peeves to the passions of the day.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

What’s even crazier is that any modern president of the United States could embrace a candidate like Moore. But of course, President Trump did. He labeled Jones “a Schumer-Pelosi puppet” and supported Moore on the grounds that he needed him for his vote on tax reform. He refused to say whether he believed the women who accused Moore of molesting them when they were teenagers — and basically put out word that he didn’t believe them at all. The president’s affinity for Moore is not surprising, given that Moore was Trump on steroids with a Southern drawl and an even creepier resume when it comes to allegations of sexual assault. On that, they are kissing cousins, if not political brothers. In rejecting Moore, Alabama, thankfully, rejected Trump, too, along with Steve Bannon, Trump’s nutty adviser.

Bannon’s appearances on Moore’s behalf also show the limits to crazy. After Mitt Romney came out against Moore, saying a no vote was worth “our honor, our integrity,” Bannon attacked Romney for not serving in Vietnam: “Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinkie finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA,” said Bannon at a campaign rally. “You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity,” he added. What politically crazy nonsense, given that Trump ducked Vietnam on the basis of a bone spur diagnosis and called his ability to avoid sexually transmitted diseases during his single years his “personal Vietnam.”

Does Moore’s defeat signal the end of crazy? Not for him. He refused to concede, saying he would “wait on God.”

As for Trump, he initially tweeted an unusually restrained message of congratulations to Jones.


But then, the usual crazy Trump recalculating began. The president tweeted that he initially endorsed Moore’s opponent, Luther Strange, because “I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

Craziness may have its limits in Alabama — but not yet in the White House.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.