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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

The upset victory of underdog Democrat Doug Jones in conservative Alabama has brought out a Republican firing squad gathered in a circle.

The GOP executioners want somebody, anybody, to pay for the loss of a Republican Senate seat in a state Trump won by 27 points.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal have targeted Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News publisher who persuaded Trump to go all in for Judge Roy Moore, despite clear and convincing testimony from nine women (including several Trump voters) that he had molested or propositioned them when they were teenagers.

“The Moore defeat should also be a lesson to the Republican Party, and President Trump, that many GOP voters are still at heart character voters. They will only accept so much misbehavior in a politician, no matter the policy stakes,” the Journal said.

For the Wall Street Journal Republicans, the “misbehavior” embodied by Moore is doing harm to the Republican Party. “Mr. Bannon is for losers,” they proclaim.

Bannon shot back via Breitbart that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was to blame. Jones’ victory was “Mitch’s Revenge” in which “Republican saboteurs” gave away a seat to Democrats as “establishment Republicans” cheered.

The Bannonites argue that the original Washington Post story about Moore molesting a 14-year-old girl was planted by a Jeb Bush staffer and that “misbehavior” is just a cynical liberal meme to make American ungreat.

McConnell’s forces returned that volley with a fusillade of their own. Bannon’s choice of candidate didn’t just harm the party; it harmed the president

“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running,” declared the Senate Leadership Fund, which is controlled by McConnell. “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco.”

Civil War

The Alabama results will only fuel the Republican civil war now consuming the party. GOP leaders and voters now must decide: join the Bannonite insurgency and alienate conservatives who still care about the law and character, or enlist with the McConnell machine and alienate the majority of Trump voters who don’t.

Trump’s loyalty and sympathy run to Bannon, but in the wake of the Alabama defeat, he preferred to praise himself. “I was right!” he tweeted, a claim so clueless that Breitbart News quickly dropped it from its homepage.

Sean Hannity’s solution: blame McConnell and change the subject.

This is likely to be Trump’s message, post-Alabama: “Let’s train our fire on Mueller, not each other.”

But supporting the firing of Robert Mueller carries the same risk as supporting Roy Moore’s candidacy: alienating conservative voters who care about law and character.

These voters are by no means the majority in Trump’s Republican Party, but the Alabama results indicate they are not insignificant either. Even in a deep-red state, there is a small bloc of conservative voters who will not automatically follow Trump’s whims.

One group that is celebrating, not sniping: former pro basketball players.

Charles Barkley, the NBA All-Star who grew up outside of Birmingham, said, “This is a great night for Alabama.” Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, echoed the University of Alabama’s victory chant.

 

The tide rolled against the Republicans and washed away their façade of unity.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)