The New York Times tells us that "Sex Allegations Against Roy Moore Send Republicans Reeling." McClatchy says that the "Moore allegations threaten to spark a GOP Senate crisis."
I don't see this as a "crisis" for Republicans. I don't think they're "reeling."
Instead of "reeling," they're pretending to be decent human beings with consciences, when they're really hoping you won't notice that they'd like Moore to tough this out. The asterisk next to their words of apparent condemnation is "if true":
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
“If that’s true, then he wouldn’t belong in the Senate,” Alabama senator Richard Shelby told reporters.
Arizona senator Jeff Flake echoed the sentiment: “If there is any shred of truth to the allegations against Roy Moore, he should step aside immediately.”
“I’m horrified and if it’s true he should step down immediately,” Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski said....
For years I've been telling you how this works. There's one Republican Party that's extreme, paranoid, conspiracy-minded, amoral, and dedicated to the destruction of all opposition at any cost ... and then there's the "nice" GOP, which shows up on Sunday morning talk shows and in other mainstream news venues and acts like a party we can trust with the responsibilities of governing. The "nice" party pretends it keeps the other party at arms' length, but there is no other party -- they're one and the same. The "nice" Republicans know this. They let the crazies talk their crazy talk in the right-wing media because it builds the brand loyalty the "nice" Republicans need. And maybe this is changing now, but for years the result in most elections was that every kind of Republican wins.
Here's another example: It didn't get much attention, but earlier this week The New York Times reminded us that bump stocks, which a lot of people thought were doomed after the Las Vegas massacre, have quietly survived. In this case, the NRA switched roles and pretended to be part of the "nice" contingent. But it was a fakeout:
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The N.R.A. was actually the first to put the onus on the A.T.F. In a statement after the Las Vegas shooting, the powerful gun lobby said the bureau should revisit the bump stock issue, and “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.” That was hailed by some as a change for the group, but in fact, the N.R.A. never embraced a ban.
In a recent interview on YouTube with James Yeager, a Tennessee gun enthusiast who runs a firearms training business, the association’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, bragged about its head fake.
“The day before we put out that statement there were enough votes in the House of Representatives, the pro-gun Republican House of Representatives, to pass a Feinstein-Curbelo type of bill,” Mr. Cox told Mr. Yeager. He went on: “The truth is we needed to slow down the process and have an educated conversation.”
What the N.R.A. calls an educated conversation, gun safety advocates regard as slow-walking.
“I don’t think the N.R.A. has killed it, but they have certainly put the brakes on,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a national advocacy group. “Their original statement was a wink and a nod by saying that it should be something that A.T.F. looked at. They knew very well that actually that was an effort to divert attention from legislation.”
Would Republicans really have voted in sufficient numbers to ban bump stocks? I doubt it. I think they were looking for any excuse not to vote for this. The NRA gave them that, while angrier voices in the right-wing media built opposition to the ban. (Headline at the Federalist a month ago: "New Bipartisan Bump Stock Bill Would Actually Ban All Semi-Automatic Rifles.")
Don't believe Republicans when they sound reasonable. They inevitably defer to those on their side who aren't. That's how we got our president.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog