WASHINGTON – Out: Jeff Flake.
In: Roy Moore.
This week brought a clarifying moment in the sad denouement of the once-proud GOP into an organ of grievance and intolerance. Flake, a Republican from Arizona, said he was retiring from the Senate. This honorable man and faithful conservative followed another good man, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in concluding that there is no place for their service in Trump’s America.
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Yet even as Flake bowed out Tuesday, Senate Republicans were tightening the party’s inevitable embrace of the new: Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore, who after his GOP primary win is very likely to be the next senator from Alabama. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., a longtime leader in his party’s race to the bottom, issued a statement Tuesday endorsing Moore. Two other senators reportedly will hold a fundraiser for Moore, and GOP leadership, with its silence, is tacitly accepting that Moore is its man.
The torch was passed. This is no longer the GOP of Flake, who carried the flame for Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. It’s not even Donald Trump’s; he was just using it. The GOP is now the party of Roy Moore.
In the spirit of those “in and out” features my newspaper colleagues do at year’s end, lets look at what’s “out” in the GOP – the sentiments voiced by Flake in his moving speech Tuesday – and what’s “in” – some of the memorable words of Moore.
Out: “I rise today with no small measure of regret, regret because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse.”
In: “Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it. … [T]he homosexual conduct of a parent – conduct involving a sexual relationship between two persons of the same gender – creates a strong presumption of unfitness that alone is sufficient justification for denying that parent custody.”
Out: “When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it, goes looking for somebody to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society.”
In: Moore: “Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast, is prohibited in every state?”
Interviewer [who had been asking about gay rights]: “Did I ask you about having sex with a cow? Or a dog?”
Moore: “No, you didn’t, [but] it’s the same thing.”
Out: “American leadership looks to the world and just as Lincoln did sees the family of man. Humanity is not a zero-sum game.”
In: Interviewer: “[Ronald Reagan] said that Russia was the focus of evil in the modern world.”
Moore: “You could say that very well about America, couldn’t you?”
Interviewer: “Do you think?”
Moore: “Well, we promote a lot of bad things, you know.”
Moore: “Same-sex marriage.”
Interviewer: “That’s the very argument Vladimir Putin makes.”
Moore: “Well, then, maybe Putin is right. Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”
Out: “The impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.”
In: “In 1857, the United States Supreme Court [in Dred Scott] did rule that black people were property. … But this 1 / 8gay-marriage 3 / 8 ruling in Obergefell is even worse in a sense.”
In: “Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting.”
In: “My personal belief is that he [President Barack Obama] wasn’t” born in the United States.
In: “There is no such thing as evolution.”
In: “You wonder why we’re having shootings and killings here in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it. … We’ve taken prayer out of school.”
In: “False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for.”
In: “There are communities under sharia law right now in our country. … Well, there’s sharia law, as I understand it, in Illinois, Indiana – up there. I don’t know.”
In: “America the Beautiful, or so you used to be,
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride, I’m glad they’re not here to see,
Babies piled in dumpsters, abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty, your house is on the sand.”
As Flake said on the Senate floor: Heaven help us.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter @Milbank.