December 18, 2017
Vol. 23, No. 15
Books & Arts
Republican lawmakers and officials are feeling a moment of relief after the defeat of embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election Tuesday. Moore’s loss to Doug Jones allows Senate Republicans to skirt the fallout of a near-certain ethics committee probe, and potential expulsion, related to Moore’s pursuit of sexual and romantic relationships with teenage girls. Members and officials were quick to issue biting rejections of a top Moore backer and former Trump adviser, Steve Bannon.
As we sift through the data on Doug Jones' improbable victory, there are already a number of lessons to be learned. The first is that candidates matter—they really and truly do. And the second is that the odds of Democrats taking control of the Senate in 2018 just increased. By a lot.
Doug Jones’s victory in Tuesday’s special Senate election in Alabama is an “embarrassment,” as one Washington Republican told me. Embarrassing because it’s Alabama, one of the most GOP-friendly states in the country. Embarrassing because the party’s candidate, Roy Moore, was perhaps one of the only Republicans in the state who could have lost the race. And embarrassing because the party’s leader, President Donald Trump, went all in for Moore in the final days before the election.
When the last tally showed Doug Jones overtaking Roy Moore and that indecisive needle pointed toward certain triumph, the few celebrants still outside the ballroom hurried to their positions in the victory choir. Local attorney Barry Hair, an Alabamian since ’83, stood in the middle of it all, hardly believing he was about to cheer the election of a Democratic senator from his state. He told me about the frustrations of being a liberal voter here and expressed relief that Alabama was about to escape becoming a national punchline when word came across the projector screen near the stage that we had a winner.
Today, after years of Vladimir Putin’s increasingly authoritarian rule, it is difficult to imagine that two decades ago one of Russia’s major television channels could regularly lampoon the country’s leaders in a puppet show (titled Puppets, or Kukly in Russian). In late November, that show’s head writer, veteran Russian broadcaster and author Victor Shenderovich, was on an American tour—primarily for Russian-Jewish immigrant audiences—with a retrospective titled “Puppets Twenty Years Later.” We met for a brief interview in downtown Manhattan shortly before his appearance at the Coney Island YM-YWHA in Brooklyn.
A neighbor has parked his classic Jaguar in front of my apartment building for the last two months. Around it are a new BMW, a Mercedes, and two Audis.
The surfeit of pricey cars on my street is the product of our proximity to two swanky buildings and the fact that Washington D.C., where I live, charges just $25 a year for a resident to park a car in his neighborhood. Meanwhile, the going rate for a private parking space in my neck of the woods is $3,000 a year. In effect, the D.C. government provides a de facto subsidy worth millions of dollars to wealthy people who own nice cars.
Since the NFL is subsidized by taxpayers, Roger Goodell's new deal will allow him to stuff about $30 million in taxpayer funds into his pockets. TMQ suspects that would disgust Charles Goodell, Roger’s father. At a moment when the Republican party is engaged in a race to the bottom against itself, the name Charles Goodell should be remembered. As a Republican member of the House of Representatives, then of the Senate, Charles Goodell was the epitome of the responsible legislator. He embodied a sensibility that has nearly disappeared from the American polis: the moderate Republican who views office as a public trust, not a power grab.
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