Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville got his first dose of the big leagues last week, some 10 days after he was elected to replace incumbent Democrat Sen. Doug Jones.
In case you missed it, Tuberville sat for an interview with the congenial Todd Stacy of Alabama Daily News last week.
At first listen, it did not seem like anything unusual. It was vintage Tuberville, who repeatedly used the same lines he had used on the campaign trail, dating back to his formal announcement in mid-2019.
As he had done several times before, he referenced his father’s service in World War II. As he had done on a few of those occasions, he again took the historically provocative approach and linked fascism with socialism.
“I tell people, my dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism,” Tuberville said. “Today, you look at this election, we have half this country that made some kind of movement, now they might not believe in it 100 percent, but they made some kind of movement toward socialism. So, we’re fighting it right here on our own soil. We’ve got to decide, you know, over the years, which direction we’re going, and that part’s concerning to me.”
That turned out to be an unforgivable sin, especially now that he will soon be a U.S. senator.
All of the intellectual lightweights who occupy the space of Alabama political commentary took issue with conflating socialism and fascism. But he is not out of bounds in violating the oversimplified conventional wisdom socialism is a product of the far left and fascism is a product of the far right.
It is pseudo-science to say since “Nazism” stands for National Socialism, it is the same socialism Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez herald in our politics today.
However, Tuberville’s father was not fighting the spread of Jeffersonian democracy in Europe in World War II.
Volumes have been written trying to define fascism. In our modern politics, fascism seems to be simply defined as anything with which institutional leftists disagree.
It is likely safe to assume Tuberville is not spending his nights studying the radical political movements of the early 20th century. Still, it is gross intellectual dishonest to dismiss his position as “football coach dumb.”
The other statement in that same interview with Todd Stacy that seems to have resulted in a fair amount of pearl-clutching was Tuberville’s categorization of the White House, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives as the three “branches” of government.
Stacy pointed to what could likely be a thin margin for Democrats in the House and a narrow margin for Republicans in the Senate.
“You know, our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three of branches of government,” Tuberville replied. “It wasn’t set up that way, our three branches, the House, the Senate and executive.”
The merits of that statement are debatable. There have been numerous times voters have elected for one-party control of all three of those branches.
But that was not the alleged faux pas.
“Duh, everybody knows the three branches are the executive, legislative and judicial.”
And devoid of any context from the interviewer, the way it was framed was “football coach dumb” did not know the judiciary was a branch of government.
If we are to believe that amazingly, somehow on the campaign trail, Tuberville had the wherewithal to criticize Doug Jones for his opposition to Supreme Court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Then again, why let the opportunity to engineer a scandalous gaffe go to waste?
What is going on here? Why are the New York Times, CNN and other national outlets that seemed oblivious to the U.S. Senate election in Alabama when it mattered now taking an interest in it?
Why not strike in the heat of the election, back when everyone thought Doug Jones had a chance? Tuberville said plenty in the past to nitpick.
It was likely as good of a time as any to try and marginalize Alabama’s newest political celebrity. With the news cycle dominated by the presidential election, any earlier effort would have been lost. And now, Tuberville is getting engaged in fundraising and campaigning in Georgia, where two U.S. Senate races will decide control of the body.
Democrats are making the same mistake they made with Donald Trump. To steal a phrase from columnist Salena Zito, Trump’s detractors in the media and elsewhere take him literally but not seriously.
Trump’s supporters take him seriously but not literally.
Democrats and the media underestimated Trump, and they created a folk hero with those antics. The same thing will happen with Tommy Tuberville.
So, what? It did not work for Trump. He lost.
Here is the difference: The national electorate that votes on Trump for president and the statewide electorate that votes on Tuberville is different. It will not impact Tuberville’s political rise like it did Trump’s reelection bid.
It is not going to hurt a potential Tuberville 2026 reelection campaign. It will draw attention to him and reflexively, conservatives will take notice. They will view it as meaning any rancor from the left-leaning media demonstrates something redeemable about Tuberville. It will potentially come back and haunt Democrats in the future.
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