"If you can't run against Roy Moore, then what kind of party you got?"
The poignant query comes from James Carville, one of the last known Democrats in the region.
He essentially is wondering just how pitiful the Democrats are in the Deep South, of which Alabama is the deepest.
Carville might be wondering if the Democrats' best if highly remote chance to defeat a Republican extremist for the U.S. Senate in the Heart of Dixie depends on staying away from their candidate.
He's a perfectly fine fellow. Why poison him by association?
The Alabama situation poses a Democratic conundrum.
The state is having to pick a new U.S. senator because Donald Trump made Jeff Sessions attorney general. The Republican primary--tantamount to victory because Democrats are Satanists as far as much of Alabama is concerned--was won last week by a zealot and extremist, former state Supreme Court justice Roy Moore.
He says his version of God's law is the supreme law of the land and that the U.S. Supreme Court is to be ignored when it goes against his religion.
When the federal courts told Moore to take down the Ten Commandments monument he had installed at the state courts building, he refused and got removed as chief justice. Back a decade later as chief justice, he got removed again, this time when he told state judges to pay no attention to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling permitting same-sex marriage.
He says homosexuality is not only a sin, but, as a sin against God, a crime.
If all sins were crimes, not to say that natural sexual orientation is a sin, we'd all be in jail.
The full population of Alabama is marginally less extreme than the Alabama Republican primary subset, which gave Moore a 55-45 victory. There are people in Alabama who can see that Moore is a frightful extremist and who wonder if maybe he's not a perfect fit for the U.S. Senate.
There has been some thought--a dream, mainly--that Moore is so marginalized that a steady and moderate Democrat might ... let's not say win, because this is Alabama, but make a race of it.
The Democratic nominee is former U.S. attorney Doug Jones, lead prosecutor in 2002 of the KKK members who bombed the black Birmingham church in 1963.
Last week there was a poll showing Moore with 50 percent and Jones with 45 percent.
Normally, Democrats would seize such a number and pour resources into Alabama on the prospect of stealing a U.S. Senate seat or making a strong enough showing to portend a brighter future and reveal general Republican vulnerability with the midterm elections looming.
Carville was addressing a question as to whether national Democrats ought to go all-in in Alabama. He was seeming to think that they should, at least on principle, if not practicality.
Whatever long shot Jones has is for Alabamians to focus on Moore and keep in the backs of their minds that, if they decide to ponder an alternative, Jones seems acceptable.
The quickest way for Jones to become unacceptable would be for national Democrats to pour millions into his campaign and invite Moore to say that Jones is a mere puppet of that axis of supposed evil--Pelosi, Hillary, Obama.
Jones' only hope is to be passively underfunded.
Accepting that his Democratic association and work as a prosecutor of the KKK ought to fortify the black vote for him, he needs to make a standard campaign speech rather akin to the following:
"I am a Democrat in the tradition of FDR helping working people and poor people, and of Harry Truman talking plain.
"Nancy Pelosi is in the House. I'm running for the Senate. She won't be the boss of me.
"Barack Obama is gone. He won't be the boss of me.
"Hillary Clinton got beat. She won't be the boss of me.
"Chuck Schumer is the head of the Senate Democratic caucus, and I'll respect that while making clear to him that he's not the boss of me either."
"Alabama is the boss of me. Alabama and the Lord."
Talking like that could close the 50-45 gap to 50-46. But the gap might widen if Jones got asked about the culture-war wedge issues: abortion, gay rights and, lately, pro-footballer kneeling. He'd either lose conservatives or impair the liberal base, which is the genius of Republican wedge issues.
It's tough for a Democrat in the South any way you look at it.
Joe Biden came to Alabama on Tuesday to speak for Jones. Joe is lovable and somewhat transcendent of national Democratic toxicity. He talked wisely about Jones' character, and Alabama, and the middle class.
But that had best be it for national Democratic infiltrators and agitators.
Will it be Moore versus not-Moore--which not-Moore might win--or Republicans versus the axis of liberal evil, which the axis can't win?
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 10/05/2017
Print Headline: The Alabama situation