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E.J. Dionne Jr. on

Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior Republican senator, also played a key role by announcing that he could not vote for Moore and that he had written in an alternative candidate. He was joined by some 23,000 voters, probably most of them Republicans, helping to build Jones' margin.

Will Republicans learn from what happened? News that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to move the GOP's tax monstrosity through before Jones is seated is not encouraging. The bill should be delayed until Jones can have his say.

In the meantime, the pathetic quality of Trump's leadership was underscored on Wednesday morning. The president, a double loser in Alabama having endorsed Moore's unsuccessful primary opponent Luther Strange and then battled aggressively for Moore, could think only about self-justification. Trump claimed he had backed Strange because he knew that Moore would "not be able to win the General Election." Tossing allies under the bus without a backward glance is one thing Trump is really good at.

A president who is both weak and megalomaniacal is very, very dangerous. Republican congressional leaders should be afraid for their skins, and for the country, but there is little reason to believe they will have the fortitude to act.

Alabama voters, at least, showed us what courage looks like.

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E.J. Dionne's email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group


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