The Sessions Nomination: President Elect Trump Flunks A Responsibility Test

Oh, yeah, this is JUST what we need...

Oh, yeah…this is JUST what we need…

Is Senator Jeff Sessions, now definitely Donald Trump’s choice to be his Attorney General, a bigot? I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that the blaring “Trump is a racist” narrative relentlessly repeated by the left is unsubstantiated and based on innuendo and distortion.

Racial tensions in our nation are unacceptably high, and not even primarily because of the election. It is irresponsible for Trump, at this crucial juncture, to do anything at all that will add to those tensions, or exacerbate African-American fears, however unjustified, that he will not be a President of all citizens, regardless of creed or color. His nomination of Senator Sessions does exactly that, and he must know it.

In 1986, a much younger Sessions was nominated by President Reagan for a federal judgeship. At sensational Congressional hearings, Justice Department prosecutor J. Gerald Hebert testified that in  1981, he had met with Sessions, then the United States attorney in Mobile, Alabama. Hebert told Sessions that a federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.

“Well,” Hebert testified Jeff  Sessions replied,  “maybe he is.”

Hebert also testified that  Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” Then an African-American prosecutor testified that  Sessions had referred to him as “boy” and  that he had joked that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”

The testimony killed his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal district court judge. Now those alleged incidents will be raised again, by critics who will say that Donald Trump has placed a proven racist in charge of the nation’s law enforcement. Sessions, who engineered a comeback from that humiliation by getting  elected to the Senate and becoming a member of the Judiciary Committee, has no better answers for the testimony against him now than he did then. Then, he insisted the comment about the Klan was meant as a joke and was obviously so,  especially since he was in the middle of prosecuting a case against the group at the time. Asked whether he ever said the NAACP  hated white people or was “a commie group and a pinko organization,”  Sessions neither confirmed nor denied it. “I am loose with my tongue on occasion, and I may have said something similar to that or could be interpreted to that,” he testified. Sessions denied that he had called the NAACP or the ACLU.un-American, “clarifying” that he had  said that “they take positions that are considered un-American. They hurt themselves; they lose credibility. And many people do think that some of those positions they take are against the national interests of the United States.”

Sessions denied the damaging account of African-American prosecutor Thomas H. Figures, who testified that Sessions referred to him as “boy.” Figures also claimed that Sessions once warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions denied saying both of those accusations, but not Hebert’s recollection of their exchange about the white lawyer being called “a disgrace to his race.” Sessions said he remembered the conversation, but not that part of it.

“I guess I will not disagree with him,” Sessions testified in 1986, “and I do not know why — I cannot imagine why I would make that comment.”

Yup: it was the Pazuzu Excuse.

Yes, this was 30 years ago. Yes, Sessions may have been unfairly accused. Yes, he is generally well-liked and respected in the Senate, and yes, Trump owes him big time, as the first Republican Senator to back his campaign. Nor is it Sessions’ fault that Trump’s perpetual motion mouth and non-existent self-control raised questions about his own racial sensitivity and tolerance. It is also not Sessions’ fault that Trump’s political and media foes have grossly misrepresented Trump’s views on race to stir up as much fear and resentment against the President Elect as possible.

All true, all irrelevant. Donald Trump is duty bound to do whatever he can to try to calm minority fears that a President Elect who was endorsed by white supremacy groups can be trusted. Nominating Senator Sessions as Attorney General does the opposite of that.

It is irresponsible, unnecessary, dangerous, reckless, defiant, stubborn and stupid.

NOW there’s something to protest.

30 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

30 responses to “The Sessions Nomination: President Elect Trump Flunks A Responsibility Test

  1. fattymoon

    Gotta say, I likes it when you calls it.

  2. Steve-O-in-NJ

    All irrelevant. There are enough votes in the Senate to probably put him over the top.

  3. Other Bill

    Agreed. Simply dumb. There have to be lots of perfectly decent, viable people to nominate.

  4. James Flood

    The usual suspects are going to scream “burn the witch!!!” regardless of who he appoints. Remember all the talk about Romney being a secret racist (in the 2012 campaign) by virtue of being a Mormon? Mitt Romney: notorious racist. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-02-01/mormon-romney-black/52920394/1

    But hey, it probably worked, didn’t it? So it meets the Harry Reid test.

    It’s a fools errand to try appeasing these groups. And even attempting appeasement only emboldens and makes them worse. I say F ’em.

    • James Flood

      I should have added that if Romney is appointed Secretary of State – as is currently rumored – we’ll be hearing about Romney’s “racism” all over again. Bet on it.

    • Chase Davidson

      That’s a terrible argument. It’s not about appeasing hard-line partisans. It’s about convincing the country that he isn’t racist, and not exacerbating racial tensions that are already at the breaking point.

    • Aleksei

      I think the problem is, since a lot of people were convinced Republicans are evil, if Trump doesn’t get a short list from the Democrats, I don’t know if any of his picks would be considered conducive to healing. What do you folks think of Trey Gowdy? I will admit I don’t know everything about him, but he seems like an honorable man, do you think if he if was considered for AG, that would have been positive, or because he was on the Benghazi committee, he would have a good deal of criticism from that?

      • Other Bill

        You’re right. Any pick will be pilloried by the left, but why give the left such an easy target? Dumb. Gowdy would have sent the left into orbit but I don’t think he has any ghosts (or pinatas) in his closet like Sessions does. Just let Sessions be an ally in the Senate.

  5. I agree on every point that Jack made.

  6. Wayne

    But then again Sessions was a tough opponent of both amnesty bills in 2007 and 2013 which you have to give him credit for. His remarks about the NAACP and the ACLU don’t bother me much as they both lost their non partisan status a long time ago. Maybe there’s somebody equally qualified who could turn around Lynch’s and Holder’s open door policy to criminal illegal aliens but I don’t know of anyone.

  7. Chase Davidson

    What do you think about his nomination of Steve Bannon as chief strategist? I think that that is also a very irresponsible choice, for the same reasons that Sen. Sessions was.

    Overall, my impression so far is that the Trump transition team seems to be rewarding loyalty far more so than ability.

    • I think the freakout over Bannon is a bit over-wrought, and an advisor isn’t a cabinet member, but yes, it was tone deaf. The loyalty pay-backs are tricky: the loyalists have to be rewarded, but not at the risk of the mission.

      • valkygrrl

        Is power no longer measured in steps from the oval office?

      • Chase Davidson

        The chief strategist may not be a cabinet member, but they do have an important role in shaping an administration’s priorities, and they do of course have the president’s ear, sometimes more so than the cabinet members.

        I understand that loyalists have to be rewarded, but I’m starting to wonder, from some things I have heard (not just from liberals), if we’re not going to start seeing things like Alberto Gonzalez purging the DoJ in the Bush admin.

  8. zoebrain

    Trump still hasn’t exhausted the chances reasonable people would give him.

    Thinned them down a lot though. If he doesn’t actually put his assets in a genuine blind trust.. would that be the final straw? Or putting David Duke in his cabinet? Or nominating Judge Roy Bean for the SCOTUS? Alec Jones as Press Secretary?

    How about insisting on travelling in his own aircraft, away from the comms equipment needed to do his job, and charging the Secret Service agents exorbitant seat prices to travel with him? I think he’s made $6 million so far from that little scam. Another month or two of that and he’ll have enough to pay the $25 million penalty and fine for fraud he’s just incurred.

    This is not a normal situation. It may be best to pretend it is for now, certainly extend the courtesies due to the office… but we have also to recognise that things could get a lot worse, very quickly. Use of the Defence Authorisation Act 2013 against political enemies for example.

    • If he doesn’t actually put his assets in a genuine blind trust.. would that be the final straw?

      No. They can’t make him, and as I said, it’s too late. But it is essentially tying his ankles together before starting a race.

      Or putting David Duke in his cabinet? Or nominating Judge Roy Bean for the SCOTUS? Alec Jones as Press Secretary?

      Now you’re giddy…

      How about insisting on travelling in his own aircraft, away from the comms equipment needed to do his job, and charging the Secret Service agents exorbitant seat prices to travel with him? I think he’s made $6 million so far from that little scam.

      Also would be stupid, and not going to happen. Air Force One is a status symbol and symbol of power. And paid for.

      Another month or two of that and he’ll have enough to pay the $25 million penalty and fine for fraud he’s just incurred.

      Not a fine, and not an admission either. He was obligated to settle, and it was also the smart thing to do.

  9. From the Rationalizations List:

    49. Convenient Futility, or “It wouldn’t have mattered if I had done the right thing.”

    One of the more pathetic excuses incompetent and negligent individuals try to employ when they have made bad decisions is to argue that a better decision would have not made any difference, so, by implication, it wasn’t such a bad decision after all. It may or may not be the case that the irresponsible or incompetent decision wasn’t the reason for the related harm, but that is just moral luck. The decision was wrong when it was made, and whether it actually caused the damage, harm, or catastrophe because of what the law calls “intervening causation” in no way mitigates the individual’s incompetence.

    The rationalization confounds law and ethics. I was once on the jury for a medical negligence lawsuit in which a woman was suing a doctor for causing her to go blind by giving her an incompetent diagnosis. The doctor’s defense was that she would have lost her sight anyway because she didn’t follow the treatment prescribed by another doctor. That defense worked: he wasn’t legally responsible for her blindness due to an intervening cause. Nevertheless, the doctor was still an incompetent, dangerous doctor. He was just lucky that his ineptitude didn’t blind her.

    “It wouldn’t have mattered because the same thing would have happened even if I was competent” is still an admission of incompetence.

  10. Chris

    “NOW there’s something to protest.”

    But we always knew he would do this. You knew he would do this. Protesting from the start was a way to show that we are not OK with exactly this.

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