Stranger than Strange
The runoff's outcome may suggest that Trump's political capital is in decline but, more important, it proves that the Republican base is still wedded to the biblical philosophy expounded by Moore and endorsed by Trump's former chief adviser, Steve Bannon. Thus, the Alabama contest came down to a battle of former allies representing two very different worldviews.
If many have doubted Trump's Republican bona fides, there can have been little confusion over his professed Christian faith. "Donald Trump lives his life as Christ did," no one ever said. For the president, religion is a convenience -- until it's not. Bannon, though no saint, is a Catholic who respects church doctrine, by his own admission, and is a street fighter for the hard-right.
In Alabama, he, too, defeated Trump.
Although incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, whom Trump enthusiastically endorsed, wasn't so far removed from Moore in his positions -- including opposition to same-sex marriage -- he was viewed, nonetheless, as part of the Republican establishment. His close association with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was no recommendation in the Bannon-Breitbart universe.
Alabama isn't usually considered a bellwether state, and certainly can't be viewed as a petri dish for political prognostication beyond the Mason-Dixon. But the standoff between Bannon and Trump via Moore and Strange may foretell the future of the GOP, which can't survive without its Southern Christian base. Ironically, Hefner, who put Trump on his magazine's cover in 1990, penned an essay when the thrice-married reality TV star secured the GOP presidential nomination, defeating Ted Cruz, a pastor's son. To Hefner, this victory signified "massive changes in the 'family values party'" and was "proof of ... a sexual revolution in the Republican Party."
Not so fast, Mr. Hefner, not so fast.
Kathleen Parker's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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