There’s an interesting Washington Times piece out this morning on the confirmation prospects of Jeff Sessions, the longtime Alabama senator who is Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. There is little question but that Sessions is qualified for the job, and there is similarly little question but that he will be confirmed by the Senate – no one really thinks the Democrats will be allowed to filibuster any of Trump’s Cabinet or Supreme Court appointments after the filibuster was essentially swept off the table by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
But Democrats are gonna Democrat. And the piece has them doing just that in the runup to the confirmation hearing, despite having worked with Sessions in the Senate for a long time…
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democratic leader and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emerged from a meeting last week with Mr. Sessions to tell reporters he was “troubled” and “disappointed” by the answers he received about criminal justice reform, illegal immigration and voter ID laws.
“There were no breakthroughs,” he said.
Despite co-authoring with Mr. Sessions groundbreaking legislation that reduces the disparity in sentencing for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine, a legal distinction that contributed to mass incarceration of black Americans, Mr. Durbin said he wanted to more evidence that Mr. Sessions would enforce the law fairly.
Pressed by reporters whether he thought Mr. Sessions was a racist, Mr. Durbin said: “I’m never going to call anybody that.”
Later, he added a caveat.
“Certainly there are elements in his background with race questions, and he said to me several times point-blank that this was not an issue as far as he was concerned [and] he believed everyone deserved fair treatment,” said Mr. Durbin. “I have more questions to ask. I spent an hour. He’ll get plenty of questions on this issue and get to explain his position more before the full committee.”
Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, voiced similar concerns about Mr. Sessions after they met privately on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who co-sponsored 13 bills with Mr. Sessions, announced that he would oppose the nomination.
“I have serious concerns that Sen. Sessions’ record on civil rights is at direct odds with the task of promoting justice and equality for all, and I cannot support his nomination,” he said in a statement.
Those “misgivings” go with the objections to “troubling things” Chuck Schumer says he finds in Sessions’ history – Sessions was Borked for a federal judgeship back in 1986 on the basis that he’d made jokes about the KKK and called a black employee “boy” when he was the U.S. Attorney in Mobile in the early 1980’s. Following that career setback, he was elected as Alabama’s Attorney General, and in that role he fought to desegregate public schools in that state and got a Klan leader convicted of murder executed. He’s been in the Senate for two decades.
Chuck Schumer says Sessions is a “gym buddy.” If he doesn’t know whether Sessions is a racist from his own experience, then he’s a stunningly inept judge of character and one wonders what in the hell he’s doing as a member of the Senate.
None of this is unexpected, of course. It just shows how typically vapid the Washington debate is, and how reflexively partisan the Democrats are.
And how little credence anyone should give to anything Schumer or Durbin or Brown has to say.