Moore vs. Bush: the rematch.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Oct. 5 2005 6:15 PM

Moore vs. Bush

The rematch.

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Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who lost his job because he wouldn't remove a granite monument to the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building, is running for governor of Alabama. His candidacy will divide the GOP there, because both Moore and the incumbent, Bob Riley, who is running for re-election, are Republicans. Moore doesn't care. He's already begun to attack Riley for proposing "the largest tax increase in history."

Faithful readers of this column may recall that I spent a good part of 2004 blowing on the coals of Moore's party disloyalty in hopes that he would make a third-party bid for president, thereby splitting President Bush's base and throwing the election to John Kerry. It came to naught; after toying with the idea, Moore rejected it.

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Now I learn that I wasn't the only one to take seriously Moore's potential to usher Kerry into the Oval Office. Joshua Green, in the October Atlantic, reports the following:

There was … great trepidation in the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign that Moore would enter the 2004 presidential election and siphon off enough voters to throw the race to John Kerry. Karl Rove … allowed the campaign to intervene in Alabama to make sure that Moore's replacement as chief justice wasn't announced until after the filing deadline for third-party presidential candidates, for fear of offending Moore and provoking him to enter the race.

Rove had firsthand experience of Moore's appeal to voters, having in 1999 run the electoral campaign of Harold See for Alabama chief justice. See lost to Moore and his Decalogue crusade.

Moore never ran against Bush, but it now appears that he never stopped being a menace to the Bush administration, either. A poem titled "America the Beautiful" has been circulating on the Internet lately, attributed to Judge Moore. Snopes.com, the authoritative urban-legend site, has pronounced itself uncertain as to whether Moore is the author. Green confirmed to me that Moore is indeed the author. Green heard Moore recite the poem before a particularly hard-core fundamentalist audience; Moore then presented Green with a photocopy, which matches the text on Snopes.com. The poem expresses disillusionment with the current state of American society in the bluntest possible language:

Babies piled in Dumpsters,
Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty;
your house is on the sand.

You get the idea. But here's the part that should worry President Bush:

We've voted in a government
that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges
who throw reason out the door.

Too soft to place a killer
in a well-deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby
before he leaves the womb.

You think that God's not angry,
that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait
before His judgment comes?

The government we've "voted in" has been controlled for many years now by President Bush in the White House and by Bush's Republican Party in Congress. Moore is running around telling people that God is angry with that government, which, inescapably, means that God is angry with George W. Bush. Be afraid, Karl. Be very afraid.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.