I figured there must be one of Aesop’s fables that would most succinctly put last week’s United States Senate election into proper context. But I forgot just how many fables ol’ Aesop scratched out on papyrus or goatskin, so picking the right one turned out not to be so easy.
At first I thought maybe it’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” That seemed appropriate after listening to people whine for weeks about how horrible Alabama is and how certain they were their home state would elect Roy Moore in a landslide, forever embarrassing us in front of all the cooler, smarter states.
But “The Horse, The Hunter and The Stag” also has merits. It explains how a horse who couldn’t get a stag to leave his field thought he was being clever by getting a hunter involved, only to have that man slap a saddle on him and turn the horse into his servant. The story is about unintended consequences, which definitely could apply to Luther Strange’s clever plans that ultimately led to a Democrat being elected to the U.S. Senate and Big Luther looking for a job.
Or maybe that one just reminds me of poor old Sassy having to haul Roy’s butt to the polls last Tuesday. I’m not sure Sassy ever tried to outsmart anyone or deserved to be poorly ridden in front of the TV cameras, but I’m certain he/she came out on the short end of this whole fiasco.
“The Mouse and the Oyster” is another fable that might apply. In that one a mouse tries to eat an oyster, only to have it snap shut on his head. It’s a warning not to bite off more than you can chew and also a practical piece of advice for mice. Maybe Roy’s the mouse in this one, or Luther. Maybe Doug Jones will be the mouse in a couple of years, or if he manages to win re-election, he might end up being the oyster. It’s all so confusing.
There’s another called “The Ass in Lion’s Skin.” The name alone explains its relevance.
I looked to the wisdom of Aesop as a way of trying to button this whole thing up and decide what it ultimately means is that the great state of Alabama juked the thinking of almost every political genius in America and elected a Democrat to the Senate. There’s no doubt that at the very least this means we should finally get a little more respect from the rest of the country, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Even if you were a diehard Roy Moore supporter, it had to make things just a little less difficult to watch the national talking heads be so wrong about what would happen. Over and over again, Alabama was described in monolithic terms as if we are redneck robots who all load up in our 4x4s with rebel flags painted on the hood and vote on the way to the morning Klan rallies.
Overlooked from the beginning was the fact Roy Moore was the Republican nominee after Alabamians had roundly rejected Luther Strange because of his neck-deep involvement in what appears to one of the more obvious bribes of a public official in the past 50 years. Moore wouldn’t have been the nominee without the help of Strange’s clear lack of ethics coupled with Sen. Mitch McConnell dumping millions into the race to try to keep Luther.
For many of the national talking heads, the nomination of Moore was a rejection of Strange’s more moderate politics, but we all know Big Luther lost because he made a deal to help the Luv Guv skate away with barely a scratch in exchange for a senate appointment. What the pundits should give us credit for as a state is putting the man above party when it came to both Strange and Moore.
I’m sure most of those who view Alabama as a political backwater where only the most conservative candidate wins will quickly point to the fact that someone with Roy Moore’s history in office, coupled with accusations of improprieties with teenage girls 40 years ago, still almost won. And that’s true. But he didn’t win, and that means people inside and outside the state who think so little of the populace as a whole should adjust their thought processes at least a bit.
I bet there aren’t many liberal or conservative enclaves in this entire country that would throw aside not one, but two politicians from their majority party to elect a relative political unknown whose views are not shared by most voters. While I’m not suggesting Alabama is about to become a “purple” state, we have shown the country’s smug political elite we won’t have Washington choose our leaders or mindlessly vote in anyone with an “R” behind their name.
For those still upset with the outcome of the election, it’s time to focus that anger back where it belongs — at the top of our state’s leadership. There’s no doubt this would have been an entirely different election had Luther Strange done his job and investigated Robert Bentley instead of weaseling a Senate seat out of him. This original sin created a waterfall of actions that led to Doug Jones’ election. I’m not saying Jones isn’t worthy of holding the job, but rather that those unhappy with this outcome — along with those who believe in the rule of law — should clamor for a true investigation into Bentley and Strange, as well as the Luv Guv’s dark money funds and how he paid his staff. Including Rebekah.
Hopefully the race for Attorney General this coming year will hinge strongly upon who has the guts to open the door on what happened. No doubt there will be strong opposition to doing that because following the money is bound to embarrass the powerful, but this mess must be exposed.
If we ever get to the bottom of that morass, it may well recall another of Aesop’s greatest hits — “The Ass and his Masters.”
* * *
I want to wish all our readers and advertisers Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a fruitful and blissful New Year. Getting to publish and write for a newspaper remains a dream come true for us. We are thankful to the hundreds of advertisers who support Lagniappe and the 80,000 weekly readers who seek the paper out in print or online and have kept us going for the past 15-and-a-half years. Please keep us in your hearts and budgets in the coming year and we promise to continue trying to give Mobile the best newspaper in Alabama.