Trump faces grave consequences of Alabama election upset

US President Donald Trump ignored the advice of party leaders to throw his weight behind 70-year-old Roy Moore, seeing the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice as something of a kindred political spirit. (AFP)
Updated 14 December 2017
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Trump faces grave consequences of Alabama election upset

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump is scrambling to come to grips with a more perilous political reality, after a stunning Democratic election victory in America’s deeply conservative south threw the depth and breadth of his support into serious doubt.
Doug Jones’ win in an Alabama Senate race Tuesday — the first such Democratic victory in a quarter-century — cut the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49, squeezing Trump’s ability to get legislation through Congress.
The finger of blame turned squarely to Republican candidate Roy Moore, who ran on an openly bigoted message, was plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls and ignored party calls to drop out.
Sensing the gathering storm, Trump tried to absolve himself of blame and urged Republicans to run “GREAT Republican candidates” in future.
“Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!” Trump tweeted, reminding Americans that Moore was not his first choice in the race.
He had unsuccessfully endorsed another candidate in the party primary.
But as the broader political autopsy commenced, Trump’s role in the race and the implications for his presidency came under the microscope.
Trump ignored the advice of party leaders to throw his weight behind 70-year-old Moore, seeing the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice as something of a kindred political spirit.
Like Trump, Moore had sought to win through a coalition of evangelical and white voters, betting that bedrock of support would be enough — and would shield him from any political scandal.
Moore — aided by Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon — also borrowed liberally from Trump’s playbook, reveling in racially charged statements such as casting doubt on the desirability of abolishing slavery, as well as constant attacks on the press and other “elites.”
In the run-up to the vote, Trump appealed to evangelicals by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and worked to pass tax reform, a central issue for Republicans.
But some in Trump’s inner circle now wonder whether Alabama shows the limits of his approach: If it does not work in deep red Alabama, where can it work?
The question is one that the White House will have to solve urgently. Next year sees mid-term legislative elections that offer Democrats a chance to regain control of both chambers of Congress.
For months, Republican donors have voiced concerns that the party may lose control of the House of Representatives.
After the upset in Alabama, even the Senate may be in play.
“It opens the door to an unlikely Democratic Senate takeover next year,” wrote Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia’s politics department.
Keeping control of both houses is key to Trump passing his agenda — and avoiding moves toward his own impeachment.
With an approval rating of 35 percent, Trump has faced one controversy after another during his 11 months in office.
Normally cautious paper USA Today all but called for Trump’s resignation after he suggested a female senator would do “anything” for campaign contributions.
“A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes” the paper wrote in a searing editorial.
With 100 percent of Alabama precincts reporting, Jones won 49.9 percent of the vote compared to Moore’s 48.4 percent, a margin of nearly 21,000 votes out of 1.3 million cast, according to figures posted by US media.
Jones, 63, is a former federal prosecutor who shot to local prominence when he convicted members of the Ku Klux Klan who bombed a black church in the 1960s, killing four girls.
“We have shown the country the way that we can be unified,” Jones told ecstatic supporters at his election night party in Birmingham.
Alabama, which Trump won last year by 28 points, has been at a “crossroads” before, and sometimes did not take the correct path forward, Jones said.
“You took the right road,” he said.
Moore however refused to concede, declaring: “When the vote is this close, it is not over.”
He signaled he wanted a recount, but Alabama law only provides for an automatic recount if the margin is within half a percentage point. The current margin stands at 1.5 percent.
Alabama officials will certify the vote between December 26 and January 3. If no recount is ordered, Jones is expected to be seated in the US Senate in early January.
“In this race, we have not received the final count to include military and provisional ballots. This has been a very close race and we are awaiting certification by the Secretary of State,” Moore said late Wednesday.
“Abortion, sodomy, and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”


’We failed them’: Australia apologizes to child sex abuse victims

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) delivers a national apology to child sex abuse victims in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra on October 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 41 min 23 sec ago
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’We failed them’: Australia apologizes to child sex abuse victims

  • The state apology comes after a five-year Royal Commission that detailed more than 15,000 survivors’ harrowing child sex abuse claims involving thousands of institutions

CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a national apology to victims of child sex abuse in an emotional address to parliament Monday, acknowledging the state failed to stop “evil dark crimes” committed over decades.
“This was done by Australians to Australians, enemies in our midst, enemies in our midst,” Morrison told parliament in a nationally televised address.
“As a nation, we failed them, we forsook them, and that will always be our shame,” he said, his voice cracking as he recounted abuse that permeated religious and state-backed institutions.
Decrying abuse that happened “day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade” in schools, churches, youth groups, scout groups, orphanages, sports clubs and family homes, Morrison declared a new national credo in the face of allegations: “We believe you.”
“Today, we say sorry, to the children we failed. Sorry. To the parents whose trust was betrayed and who have struggled to pick up the pieces. Sorry. To the whistleblowers, who we did not listen to. Sorry.
“To the spouses, partners, wives, husbands, children, who have dealt with the consequences of the abuse, cover-ups and obstruction. Sorry. To generations past and present. Sorry.”
The state apology comes after a five-year Royal Commission that detailed more than 15,000 survivors’ harrowing child sex abuse claims involving thousands of institutions.
In parliament, lawmakers stood for a moment of silence following the remarks as hundreds of survivors looked on or watched in official events across the country.
Relatives of victims who have died wore the tags with the names of daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, for whom this apology comes too late.
A series of institutions have already apologized for their failings, including Australian Catholic leaders who have lamented the church’s “shameful” history of child abuse and cover-ups.
According to the Royal Commission, seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of abuse between 1950 and 2010, but the allegations were never investigated, with children ignored and even punished.
Some senior members of the church in Australia have been prosecuted and found guilty of covering up abuse.