“It Gives Me No Pleasure to See a Pedophile Win”: The Alt-Right Comes to Terms with the World It Hath Wrought (Vanity Fair)

“It Gives Me No Pleasure to See a Pedophile Win”: The Alt-Right Comes to Terms with the World It Hath Wrought

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The election of Donald Trump, and subsequent events, many of them involving Steve Bannon, have opened up whole new vistas of moral and political calculus for the G.O.P., whole new standards for what ends justify what means. The allegations by nine women that Roy Moore, candidate for Alabama Senate, pursued them sexually when they were teenagers, may present this new discipline its hardest problem.

Even some people who are close to Bannon have qualms about the decision. “It gives me no pleasure to see a pedophile win. That’s not something I’m happy about,” a Bannon confidant told me, just one week before the Alabama Senate election.

“I think he’s not helpful” to the long-term success of the populist-nationalist movement, this source continued. “But being brutally cold and just analyzing it, there’s so many people who have been accused of so many things in the last three weeks that it makes no difference.”

An entire parallel universe exists where Breitbart, Trump, and Mitch McConnell could have collectively won the moral high ground in the Moore debacle, Bannon could have easily disavowed the judge, McConnell could have snuck Luther Strange past the finish line and gotten a reliably conservative vote, and Trump could have easily buried any discussion about the Access Hollywood tape under the sexual harassment allegations roiling the mainstream media and the Democratic Party.

But that universe is one where Moore had enough shame to drop out of the race. Instead he adopted the Trump playbook—deny vociferously, attack the victims’ credibility, and barrel ahead full steam until the party bends and voters acquiesce. The far right have now handcuffed themselves to Moore’s ride, wherever it may lead.

Some former allies see deep flaws—they had to destroy the village in order to save it—in this new political logic. “If their goal is to cultivate an audience outside their base, you’re not going to win over converts with credibly accused child molesters,” Ben Shapiro, a former editor at Breitbart who left the site under a cloud of controversy, told me. “I don’t think anything is inevitable, but binary logic combined with unwillingness to accept cognitive dissonance led us here.”

Bannon campaigns for Moore in Alabama on December 5th.

By Nicole Carine/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Bannon, who was in Japan at the time the scandal broke, himself pondered whether to drop Moore, allegedly saying that he would “put [Moore] in a grave myself” if the allegations were true. He’s since gotten over his qualms: “‘I can’t believe we got this guy,’‘’ the source recounted Bannon saying. ”But that’s the hand we were dealt.”

“Steve legitimately doesn’t believe that any of those things are true,” he continued. “If there’s positive evidence that he did those things, Steve would drop him.”

For Bannonites, Moore is an instrument and an attitude. “The thing that binds Steve Bannon and Roy Moore isn’t Christianity or a similar set of political beliefs,” said former Breitbart correspondent Lee Stranahan. “The thing that binds the two of them is defiance.”

Moore’s value in the Senate may even have been increased by the scandal and ensuing drama. Moore has been weaponized. “He knows why he’s going there. He knows how he got there. And it wasn’t like McConnell was pleasant to him, so he doesn’t need us to tell him,” the source pointed out.

Age seems to be a factor dividing the populist-nationalist support for Moore. While younger, more passionate activists and writers appear more willing to brush aside the accusations in order to achieve their goals of sticking it to a liberal establishment, older members—particularly ones with children—expressed their disgust to me. But publicly, almost all have consented to be led on the Moore matter. “It’s more a matter of blind loyalty that I’m seeing,” Stranahan said.

One of the rare dissenters, Breitbart Texas editor Brandon Darby, has a rather unique take on the entire thing, according to his Twitter timeline: as a child, he was a victim of the sex-trafficking trade, a history he has publicly addressed in the past. Though he openly entertained the possibility that the accusations against Moore were baseless, he expressed sympathy for his accusers. (Darby’s criticism is so rare among Breitbart staffers that he’s spent the past few weeks fending off Twitter critics wondering where the hell his loyalty is.)

Few disagree, however, that Moore’s presence has permanently altered the movement, whether he wins or loses. ”His candidacy has created internal tension, because some people (myself included) think he’s garbage and that we should take the [liberal], and others think that we shouldn’t be less ruthless than Democrats would be in the same circumstance,” Will Chamberlain, the organizer of MAGA Meetups, a social club for Trump supporters, told me. “The election resolves that tension one way or the other.”

But the Moore scandal may change less than people think. “The nationalists have never postured themselves as chivalrous, so I don’t see how his association hurts them,” said Matt Lewis, a conservative pundit and longtime Trump critic. ”I mean, he’s a part of a movement that already includes Milo [Yiannopoulos], Bannon, and Trump.”

General

via Vanity Fair http://bit.ly/2xvuIXg

December 6, 2017 at 02:24PM