Alablawg

Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Peas In A Pod

Former Alabama Governor Fob James has endorsed Roy Moore for governor. No surprise there. James, most famous for dancing like a monkey to mock evolution, ran on the same platform as do the Moore-ons. From a 1998 article on James' primary victory over Winton Blount:

James' hiring of former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed as a campaign consultant, his support for teacher-led prayer in school and the display of the Ten Commandments in an Alabama courtroom drew endorsements from national leaders of the religious right. . . . James campaigned on a states-rights platform that recalled the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. He has vowed to disregard Supreme Court orders on issues such as school prayer; threatened to call out the National Guard to defend a Ten Commandments display in a judge's courtroom; [and] argued that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states in matters such as freedom of speech and religion.

Sound familiar? Here is Moore, speaking yesterday at a retirement community in Opelika:

Since the Supreme Court's 1963 ruling that state-support prayer in public schools was unconstitutional, schools have been plagued by violence and killing, Moore said.

"When I was in school, the worst problem we had was chewing gum in the classroom or some kid smoking in the bathroom," he said. "As we've lost our relationship with God, we've lost our relationship with each other."

Better yet, Mini-Moore recently had this to say:

Parker said that, given the right case, he might urge the Alabama Supreme Court to ignore a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the death penalty, freedom of religion or some other issue if he believed the high court was wrong. . . . Parker said he believes federal courts did not have the authority to prohibit Moore from acknowledging God by installing the Ten Commandments monument. "This is a power they claim for themselves, but it's extra-constitutional," Parker said.

What is interesting about this is not so much the endorsement. Anyone even passingly familiar with Alabama knows James and the Moore-ons have the same beliefs about God and government. What strikes me is that James won his primary, whereas it sure looks like the Moore-ons are going to lose, and lose badly, next month.

So why the difference? James was running against a country club republican, as are Moore and the clones this time, so I don't think it is the quality of the opponent. Could it be that Alabamians are finally seeing through he rhetoric? We may not all agree that James, Moore and the clones are wrong when they say states should ignore Scotus's rulings on the Constitution, but have we all at least finally accepted that the battle is over and - rightly or wrongly - Alabama has to do what the Supreme Court tells it to do? Perhaps we have all recognized that for the same reason you don't choose a mechanic based on his politics, you should not choose a governor based on her theology. Maybe so. From that same 1998 story:

Karen Cartee, a University of Alabama political communications analyst, described the [1998] campaign as pathetic.

"Once again, Alabama has managed to avoid any of the true issues facing the state and its people -- education, transportation, welfare, health care, you name it," Cartee said.

"We just keep sinking further and further behind other Southern states. The only thing you can say is this whole primary and runoff have been a trivial mess. When you've got the governor of the state debating evolution and the main candidates calling each other monkeys, it is truly a sad state of affairs."

Perhaps the difference between 1998 and today is that Alabamians have wised up. We are now more concerned with the "true issues." Hence, the Moore-ons message is falling flat. And, hopefully, Alabama will rise up because of it.