Last week, the Junior Senator from Alabama appeared on Alabama Public Television and figuratively wagged his finger at Alabama voters. He was again asked about his vote in the Democrats’ Brent Kavanaugh debacle and doubled down on his “I know better than you” defense of his “no” vote.
“We were looking at it to determine his record, what he’s said, what he’s done, what we believe he could do, look at his qualifications, as well as his temperament and other issues to determine whether or not this man should be on the United States Supreme Court.”
In other words: “We don’t GAF what Alabamians think. We know what’s best for the Court and we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do.”
If current trends hold, Republicans stand a good chance of holding control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, putting Jones’ grip on his own seat at risk. A Republicans Senate majority will continue to pass more of President Donald Trump’s agenda. Jones must run for reelection after being all but forced by Democrat leadership to dig in against the GOP agenda. The Kavanaugh vote was his biggest opportunity to keep his pledge to put country before party, and he punted.
Former President Bill Clinton was a Democrat that knew how to play ball. He was a gifted politician who embraced the triangulation strategy, which calls for adopting the parts of both political parties agenda that appealed to the most voters. He knew he could count on his base for support. All he had to do was peel off enough center-right independents to remain in office on election day.
Jones isn’t half the politician Clinton was.
Had he a lick of sense, Jones would have sensed the will of his electorate and voted to confirm Kavanaugh. That could have put him at odds with his base, but the effect would have been negated in part by the votes of Maine’s Susan Collins and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. Manchin is a Democrat, and smartly saw the public’s view in his home state. Collins is a pro-choice Republican but who saw that Kavanaugh was well qualified even if she differed from him ideologically. He could very easily have defended his vote by explaining that while he had unanswered questions about the nominee he was willing to listen to the voice of his constituency. He could even argue that his vote really didn’t matter since Kavanaugh was going to be confirmed anyway. Either or both arguments could have given him enough cover to triangulate. All he had to do was agree with liberals that Kavanaugh was too conservative for the Kennedy seat but argue that Alabama wants him seated and the voters’ voices count more than a party diktat.
But he’s not that smart.
Jones hopes that Alabama voters will forget his finger-wagging over the Kavanaugh confirmation. That’s not smart, either.