Steve Daines has never represented the people of Montana. He represents, at most, an extremist cabal that believes its theologically incompatible hypercapitalist and Christian views are a cudgel to use against the weakest members of society, whether they’re sick, poor, or gay. He believes that the role of government is not to protect the weakest members of society, but to further the consolidation of power in the hands of a very small number of very wealthy people.
But Daines has managed to keep the public in the dark about his view for the most part. He’s managed to convince Montana voters in two elections that he’s just a businessman who wants to get the economy rolling with a focus on high-tech jobs. He started the schtick that powered his former boss, Greg Gianforte, to the House of Representatives, and managed to do it without being exposed for the narrowness and hatefulness of his views. And the media in Montana has largely abetted his efforts to construct this narrative.
But today the masked slipped. For no earthly reason, Daines, per the reporting of Ben Jacobs, endorsed Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore for the Senate. Unless you’ve been following the news closely, you might only know Roy Moore has that odd little fella who was waving his grandma’s pistol at a campaign rally, presumably after playing cowboy dress up, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Moore, who was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for ethics violations after refusing to abide by legal court orders, is the kind of toxic candidate most mainstream Republicans are keeping at an arm’s length because of his long record of contempt for the law and fellow human beings.
Moore is a xenophobe who believes in imposing an unconstitutional religious test on those seeking office. In 2009, he attacked Muslims, saying:
“Only thing I know that the Islamic faith has done in this country is 9/11.” He additionally claimed, as CNN wrote, that “Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, shouldn’t be allowed to take office. He has also warned that Muslims shouldn’t serve in the military.”
So convinced is Moore that Muslims are a threat to America, he told supporters at a campaign stop that parts of America are under sharia law. When pressed for details, he gave this knowledgeable response:
He responded, “Well, there’s Sharia law, as I understand it, in Illinois, Indiana — up there. I don’t know.” Later in the interview, Stein tried again, asking Moore to be specific and name which communities he was referring to. Moore said, “I was informed that there were. But if they’re not, it doesn’t matter.
Not content to keep his bigoted views to Muslim people, Moore insulted American Indians and Asian-Americans at another campaign stop:
“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” he said, apparently referring to Native Americans and Asian Americans by the ethnic slurs “reds and yellows.”
Moore is also a virulently anti-gay bigot. Just this February, he gave a speech in which he claimed that the 9/11 attacks were the result of God’s wrath on the United States because “we legitimize sodomy.” He has also praised the anti-gay laws imposed on the Russian people by Vladimir Putin.
And Moore isn’t just a bigot; he’s a crook. While he was on one of his forced hiatuses from the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore took the leadership of the Foundation for Moral Law, which paid him $180,000 a year for part-time work. The catch? That’s not what the Foundation reported in its tax filings. The Foundation, which also paid Moore’s wife and two of his children, was little more than a fundraising arm for his political and personal ambition, and one he didn’t even pay his fair share of taxes on.
Tax problems aside, Moore is such a huckster that he nearly forced the Foundation into bankruptcy. From a local editorial in Alabama:
All this time, when Roy Moore was fighting his supposed crusades to bring religion back into courthouses, when he turned church sanctuaries into political soapboxes, when he turned Alabama into a joke for late night talk shows — he wasn’t doing it for some higher purpose.
He was doing it to get paid.
When the foundation ran low on funds, Moore didn’t donate his own compensation to the cause. When it couldn’t afford to pay him in cash, it gave him a promissory note backed by its real estate holdings.
And this is the man that Steve Daines endorsed today. One has to wonder whether it was the disrespect for the rule of law, hateful rhetoric and discrimination, or the financial shadiness the encouraged Daines to endorse Moore. I suspect it was all three, because Moore and Daines represent the same extremist fringe that has taken over the Republican Party and transformed it into an organization wholly committed to letting a few grifters enrich themselves by demonizing vulnerable communities.
Surely, the Montana press that endorsed Daines, arguing that he would best represent the state because he was “capable of working to find middle ground and getting things accomplished” will press him to explain this unnecessary and dangerous endorsement of a hyper-partisan ideologue that most Republican Senators have kept at a distance because he represents the worst of conservative politics in America today and a dangerous worldview that has no place in any legislative group, much less the world’s greatest deliberative party.”
Surely we deserve that explanation. Will someone please ask for it?