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Tuesday night was definitely one for the books: a nail-biting photo finish that saw the lead go back and forth a time or two, until Doug "Left Jab" Jones managed to surge ahead of Roy "Molester" Moore, and stay there.
The initial response is one of surprise and elation. A lot of Jones' supporters -- either unconvinced by the polls, or afraid to believe them after the fiasco of 2016 -- were convinced it was going to be a sad evening, filled with gloating from the usual rightward suspects.
Instead, we have a sigh of relief. We have a Senate that is in play, again. We have a sensible, well-meaning Democrat on board in a body that desperately needs a voice of reason.
And we have the satisfaction of giving Steve Bannon and the Trumpster Fire in Chief a big old middle finger.
(Trump's first tweet on the subject was surprisingly cordial. One wonders if he actually wrote it.)
That's the good news. But there is a big heap of nasty, badly-done spinach to go with our electoral steak.
Put bluntly - it shouldn't have come to this.
There is no reason that Roy Moore -- a loony crank whose understanding of the Constitution is, frankly, laughable -- should have been on that ballot. The debacle over the Ten Commandments was bad enough, but his other antics on the bench were sign of his inability to govern within the law.
With each new pronouncement from his camp, in the waning days of the race, his true ugliness became clearer and clearer. Were we really better off during the era of slavery? Would we be served well by denying women the right to vote? Were trans people and gays really to blame for all our problems?
And yes, there's that thing about underage women. Oddly enough, that didn't seem to diminish his support too much.
And that's the really troubling thing, here. A historically illiterate, constitutionally challenged troll who'd been thrown off the Alabama Supreme court not once but twice, and had numerous issues concerning his sexual behavior -- some if it with minors -- was somehow neck-and-neck with a fairly middle-of-the-road Democrat for most of the night.
It should not even have been close. It should have been a cakewalk for Jones. Moore should have been pasted into glue.
Instead, he enjoyed a real race -- one that came with the support of many establishment Republicans, who at first waffled when presented with his sexual peccadillos, but then came around as the time came closer.
We expected such idiocy out of 45. We didn't expect it from the so-called leaders of the American conservative movement.
To be fair, saner heads from that side of the aisle did poke their heads above water to say "no." The National Review cried enough, as did Michael Steele and Alabama's other Senator, Richard Shelby.
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