Between Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla

Been sayin’ it for some time now. Finally found a pundit who makes the same point.

David Atkins, Will GOP Senators Allow Trump to Sabotage Their Chances in Alabama?

They’re caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Atkins writes,

Senate Republicans are facing a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation in the looming impeachment battle. As Trump’s guilt become more obvious by the day–and defending him becomes ever more impossible and impalatable–Republican leaders are caught in a vise. If they don’t defend Trump from impeachment, the president’s loyal base will turn on them and may stay home from the polls in 2020. But if they do defend the raging tire fire of venom and corruption in the White House, they may lose enough people of basic decency that it imperils their Senate majority. And it’s not just in 2020: the damage may well last a generation or more.

Few contests make clearer than the Senate race in Alabama. Most scenarios in which the GOP maintains control of the Senate in a blue wave election year depend on winning back the Alabama Senate seat lost in a stunning upset to Doug Jones in 2017. The special election was necessitated because President Trump elevated Jeff Sessions to Attorney General, thinking he would get a loyalist lackey in the position. Sessions to his credit refused to play along, earning Trump’s heated ire before he was replaced by the much more corruptly pliable William Barr. Still, Alabama is a deeply red state, and the conventional wisdom is that Jones will not survive in 2020.

But the stars are not aligning in the GOP’s favor. Jones won mostly because his opponent was Roy Moore, a extremist fanatic who was not only exposed as too far right even for Alabama Republicans, but also as an alleged child molester. A normal person, having lost as his party’s standard-bearer in one of the safest seats for his party in the country, would find another line of work. But not Moore. He is running again–and if he wins the GOP nomination, Doug Jones may survive to serve another terms.

But Moore isn’t the only Republican running. Jeff Sessions has indicated he wants his old seat back, and plans to run as well. Sessions would likely be a much more formidable opponent for Jones than Moore: Alabama voters know him, and were used to sending him to Congress what once seemed like a lifetime appointment. A competent political party led by a competent president would simply throw its weight behind Sessions and that would be that.

But Donald Trump’s corruption may throw a monkey wrench in that plan. His hatred of Sessions for refusing to twist the Justice Department far enough in his favor may wind up costing the GOP his nomination and thus the Senate seat itself.