Herald editorial board

Many people incorrectly use the word "dilemma," saying they have a dilemma when they simply have a problem.

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A dilemma is more than a problem. When one's garbage can blows over in a blizzard, that's a real problem, but it's not at all a dilemma.

Instead, a dilemma is a choice between two unattractive alternatives.

The reason we cite the difference today is to correctly illustrate what Republicans face if Roy Moore wins next week's Alabama election and is seated in the U.S. Senate.

That will be a dilemma: Two unattractive alternatives for GOP members of Congress.

Tuesday, Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones, hoping to replace current Republican Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore beat in a September primary. Strange won the seat by way of appointment, after Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become attorney general.

The winner of Tuesday's election immediately will take the seat.

It's a highly controversial issue because Moore is accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, and specifically abusing underage girls. Moore has spent his political career as an ultra-conservative. If the charges are true, he's a hypocrite and a liar.

Wary of the slim, two-person Republican majority in the Senate, President Trump is backing Moore, saying "we don't need a liberal person in there." The president should have urged Moore to step down and allow another candidate to run in his place. It's too late now, though.

Meanwhile, Republicans have shied away from Moore, who likely will be the focus of ethics investigations if he is seated.

For instance, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., told Forum News Service last month that Moore should bow out of the race. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Moore's accusers "seem entirely credible" and that it would best for the GOP if Moore didn't run.

And during a televised interview with Fox News, South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune said this: "If the Democrat wins, it is going to be a vote for the Pelosi-Schumer agenda. ... But the other alternative is that if Roy Moore wins, he will come into the Senate in January and there is immediately going to be an ethics investigation, which is going to be a cloud he will be operating in and it will be a distraction for us and our agenda. ... It would be in the best interest for our agenda if the president used his influence and tries to get Roy Moore to step aside."

That's not going to happen. And since Moore is somehow leading the race, according to recent polls, it appears he's soon headed to Washington.

If Jones does win, the Republicans' slim advantage will be even slimmer.

And if Moore wins, he very likely will face an ethics investigation. Democrats obviously will be against him, and his presence could possibly create a divide in the Republican Party.

And for Republicans, that is a dilemma.