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Outsiders vs. Insiders: How Mitch McConnell will expose the best candidate in every primary

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck” -- Dalai Lama XIV

It’s not surprising after a loss of epic proportions like the one conservatives and Republicans suffered the other night in Alabama that the post-election blame game is being played with an intensity rarely found in the Mitch McConnellnormally sedate halls of the Washington political castle.

Just like with sore loser Cam Newton (of the Carolina Panthers) after his team got “sacked” in the 2016 Super Bowl, there was no shortage of raw emotion and contempt in the reactions of interested conservatives to Judge Roy Moore’s narrow defeat in the usually deep red state. For the eternally Trump-hating #NeverTrump crowd there was jubilation, however, perhaps a release of repressed frustration stored up from so much losing over the past two years.

In a post titled “**WHEW**”, bitter and obnoxious (and irrelevant) #NeverTrumper Caleb Howe wrote at Red State, “This is not an article about how bad Roy Moore is. The race is over, we have the future to discuss. But these reminders must be here, because we see everywhere Republicans who choose still not to face the reality of Roy. The truth is that Moore managed to say something awful or stupid nearly every time a microphone was put in front of his face. Some are blind to this because they like when he says things like ‘rah rah ten commandments monument’ or ‘harumph elites McConnell.’…

“Steve Bannon’s power as sage and winner of races depended on his being a winner. Not some or most of the time, but all of the time. Instead, he has delivered a spectacular failure in a deep red state and made Jeff Sessions’ old seat unthinkably turn blue. That is about as effective a way to take the shine off of something as ever I’ve seen…”

‘Ol Caleb sounds really upset, doesn’t he? Keep in mind Howe’s commentary is about a Republican with solid conservative credentials, even if the candidate’s quirks made him seem a little odd to some.

Howe’s post was so chock full of venomous invective it was difficult to pick out only a couple paragraphs to quote. The Red State writer is so thoroughly convinced he’s right and everyone else who supported Moore – and Bannon – is wrong that the only logical explanation for his spiteful screed is perhaps he’s vying for a job as a Republican establishment consultant who specializes in bashing Trump and his populist/conservative supporters.

Or maybe Howe dreams of writing for National Review (he even quotes David French in his piece); or he’s vying to be the next Evan McMullin, the 2016 “independent conservative” loser who can’t really define issue positions apart from Trump but still insists the president is a disaster anyway.

I seem to remember Caleb Howe was a Marco Rubio supporter in the 2016 GOP primaries. If correct, it figures.

Despite all the rage it wasn’t clear from Howe’s post exactly why he hates Steve Bannon so much – the former Trump campaign CEO is a publisher and advisor, not the embodiment of Satan himself. Perhaps it’s because Red State has become so discredited by publications like Bannon’s Breitbart that hardly anyone bothers reading it anymore. What used to be known as a reliably conservative anti-establishment online publication (Red State) has morphed into a den of #NeverTrump swamp defending vipers bent on smearing the president – and those who like him – at every opportunity.

These are the people who clothe themselves in “principles” and pass off their savage attacks as objective commentary. I think it’s because they’re so naturally bad at their jobs that they rarely get anything right and can’t admit when they’re wrong.

The funniest thing about commenting on politics is, if you work at it long enough -- at some point -- you’ll be right about something. Howe and his Red State pals were so wrong about the 2016 election that they had a long time to stew and wait until there was something they could feel confident enough about to crow in its aftermath. Alabama “released” them from their pathetic prison of futility.

Ed Gillespie couldn’t achieve the same result for them last month in Virginia – no, Gillespie was an establishment candidate who kept his distance from Trump, enjoyed the full backing of the national party elites and no doubt would have become the crown prince of “See, I told you so!” #NeverTrump establishment fools had he won. Instead, Gillespie lost badly and now he not only says he’ll never run for office again, he wouldn’t even encourage anyone else to do so.

After what Gillespie endured at the hands of Democrats and the media establishment – being smeared as a racist and a woman hater – you can’t blame the guy for wanting to back away from the political arena. But the #NeverTrump crowd essentially conducted the same slime job – and worse -- to Moore. They called him stupid, ignorant, a pedophile and corrupt as well as the usual racist, religious freak and woman abuser denunciations. Yes, this is from people in Moore’s own party.

To merely disagree with the way a candidate lives his life (at least in Moore’s past 30 years) or phrases his political positions is apparently enough justification for these pitiful #NeverTrump cretins to disembowel the man in front of the entire nation. Moore may have been a little eccentric but did he really deserve all he got?

The Moore-trashing commentary and response wasn’t confined to Red State or the other beds of #NeverTrump discontent, either. “Regular” Republicans seemed happy to be on the losing end too.

David M. Drucker reported at the Washington Examiner, “The Republican establishment in Washington breathed an unusual sigh of relief Tuesday as Roy Moore, their party’s Senate candidate in a hotly contested special election in Alabama, fell to Democrat Doug Jones…

“’Tonight’s results are clear — the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate,’ said Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a release that read like a victory statement.

“’We didn’t just dodge a bullet, we dodged a missile,’ added a senior Republican strategist, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, requesting anonymity in order to speak candidly. ‘If Moore had won, our candidates would have spent the next 11 months being forced to react to every crazy thing he said and did.’”

The last quote sounds like it came from Karl Rove. The consultant class all say the same things; they might as well be clones cast for the next Star Wars movie for all the value of their repetitive observations.

Nonetheless the elites saved their special hatred for Bannon, suggesting his quest to promote anti-establishment candidates is the only reason why places like Alabama are even in play for Democrats. It’s the same argument they’ve advanced for years and has functioned to scare enough people into keeping Mitch McConnell as the leader of the senate Republicans. Trump’s agenda stalls, one thing leads to another. You do the math.

Bannon wasn’t on the ballot on Tuesday yet he sure underwent a scourging.

The normally reliable Roger L. Simon wrote at PJ Media, “[T]he big loser Tuesday is Steve Bannon, the sometime movie producer cum finance expert cum political strategist that some claim put Donald Trump in office and then left the White House to better support the president from without, or so he said. In this instance -- purportedly to do that, I guess -- he went against Trump, who originally backed the more establishment candidate Luther Strange, to back one of Bannon's own, Judge Moore.


“Was it indeed to protect the president's agenda?  I would bet my house that Strange and Moore would vote the same way in the Senate ninety-nine times out of a hundred, as would just about any other Alabama Republican candidate you can think of. No, it was about power. For Bannon, Strange bore a Scarlet Letter -- the support of Mitch McConnell.”

For the grassroots, supporting McConnell as a party leader appears to be enough to reject any candidate. McConnell is the true opponent in many conservatives’ minds; Alabama proved it. I’ll have to disagree with Simon on this one.

It’s also more than a little strange to see a bunch of critics who usually moan and complain about the enduring negativity of politics sparing nothing while ruthlessly tearing into Roy Moore or Steve Bannon. The sheer volume of hate that emerged after Tuesday’s election – from so-called right-leaning publications -- was something to behold.

Just perusing the headlines at National Review on Wednesday, for example, you’d see “Roy Moore Just Disproved the Legend of Trump” by Ben Shapiro (another Bannon basher). Then there was “Last Night the New South Defeated the Old South” by David French, complete with a picture of a dejected looking Moore; “Roy Moore Does the Impossible,” by The Editors; and finally there’s the real doozy, “By Endorsing Moore, Trump Sunk the U.S. Presidency to Unplumbed Depths,” by the now patently un-readable George Will.

For those who followed the election for weeks and already absorbed the tedious and monotonous case against the Republican candidate in the Alabama race, would any of these headlines entice you to click on the articles (except maybe for morbid curiosity)? Is this legitimate commentary or a collection of Trump-haters taking a victory lap holding high the scalp of a man who lost a political race by a little over one percentage point. What are these guys trying to prove?

There are more examples in other publications, but you get the picture.

Instead of offering legitimate recommendations on how conservatives might move forward they publish the same retreaded tired old grandstanding about how awful Moore was and how stupid many conservatives (and about half the Alabama electorate) were to want him as a candidate.

Despite all the extraneous noise, there are lessons to be learned from Alabama. From now on, conservatives would do well to identify the establishment candidate in every race and work to back the strongest candidate who isn’t the choice of the ruling class elites. Sadly, it appears Roy Moore was not that person in Alabama. In hindsight House Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks would have been the best overall candidate against scandal-plagued appointed Senator Luther Strange in the GOP primary and Doug Jones in the general. No need to cry over it now; it’s too late.

Moore’s past was simply too much for many people to accept. The sexual misconduct allegations probably didn’t sink him but they certainly reinforced prior concerns some harbored. It was a perfect storm generated by a complicit establishment that was all too happy to see the party lose.

Conservatives cannot let Tuesday night’s defeat in Alabama deter them from identifying and supporting the best candidates in every GOP primary race. Ironically, Mitch McConnell will help in this endeavor – find out who he backs and think strongly about choosing one of his or her opponents.

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