Senate Democrats have made clear their determination to do what has never been done before - defeat the confirmation of a sitting colleague who’s been nominated to a president’s cabinet. Their target? Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as attorney general of the United States.
The question is, why? What is it about Sessions that has them so determined to defeat his confirmation?
Would they prefer an Attorney General who was so uncooperative with the people’s elected Representatives that he was held in Contempt of Congress, as was Eric Holder, President Obama’s first Attorney General?
Would they prefer an Attorney General who declared during her own confirmation hearing that she would defend - in violation of the oath of office she would shortly take - the President’s unconstitutional plan not to enforce immigration law against an entire class of people, as did Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s second Attorney General?
If this is what Senate Democrats want, they will be disappointed. As Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will, contrary to the actions of his immediate predecessors, uphold and enforce the laws on the books, and defend the Constitution.
And that’s exactly what we want and what we need in an Attorney General - especially after eight years of a lawless Administration.
Nevertheless, leading Senate Democrats are determined to defeat (or, more likely, simply delay) Sessions’ confirmation. Their argument? That he is “outside the mainstream” and has demonstrated “racist” tendencies.
That will, of course, be a difficult argument to make for North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who cosponsored two different bills with Sessions.
Or for Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who cosponsored two different bills with Sessions.
Or for Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly, who cosponsored three different bills with Sessions.
Or for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who cosponsored seven different bills with Sessions.
Or for Montana Democrat Jon Tester, who cosponsored eight different bills with Sessions.
Or for Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey Jr., who cosponsored 10 different bills with Sessions.
Or for Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, who cosponsored 13 different bills with Sessions.
Or for Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, who cosponsored 21 different bills with Sessions.
Or for Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who cosponsored 22 different bills with Sessions.
How can a Senator, with a straight face, make an argument that another colleague is “outside the mainstream” or, worse, a “racist,” if they’ve cosponsored legislation together? What Democrat in his or her right mind would cosponsor legislation with a “racist?”
The answer, of course, is simple - no Democrat (or Republican, for that matter) would actually cosponsor legislation with a racist.
Would a racist introduce a bill - the Fair Sentencing Act - that rectified disparities in sentencing for drug crimes, and then work across the aisle for nine years to get it passed and signed into law? As U.S. Senator, Jeff Sessions did precisely that. In a similar vein, would a racist work to desegregate schools in Alabama? As U.S. Attorney, Jeff Sessions successfully desegregated Alabama’s schools. Or would a racist prosecute and seek the death penalty for Henry Francis Hays, a Klansman, on charges of murdering a teenage African American? That conviction was one of Jeff Sessions’ greatest accomplishments, and later, once elected as Alabama’s Attorney General, he ensured that Hays received the death penalty. These are hardly the accomplishments of a racist, of course, and Senate Democrats know the charge that Sen. Sessions is racist is ridiculous.
Senate Democrats don’t believe Jeff Sessions is a racist any more than they believe I can dunk a basketball. But their internal politics demand that they oppose the man who defeated their candidate in the presidential election, and the first and most obvious way to show opposition to a new Administration is to oppose its Cabinet nominees, and the first and most obvious way to oppose the incoming president’s first nominee, Jeff Sessions, is to harken back to discredited charges made against him three decades ago.
If this is the best Senate Democrats can do to try to revitalize their political fortunes, the 2018 midterms are going to be a sorry, sorry day for them.
Jenny Beth Martin is co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest national tea party organization.