As the Senate prepares for hearings on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general, liberals are dredging up hoary allegations that he made racist remarks in the early 1980s. The same people who want to reward line-jumping immigrants with equal citizenship still consider 35-year-old hearsay valuable evidence in deciding a Republican public servant’s fitness for office.
The worst part about it? Racists are paying attention to these confirmation hearings. They’ll get the message: “if you have ever said anything racist, even if you say nothing similar for decades, the racial establishment will never forgive you. So you might as well stay racist.”
Rather than contradict myself by treating Reagan-era language as relevant, I will spend no time detailing the alleged remarks or demonstrating how questionably proffered, poorly documented, and tendentiously interpreted they are, although others have done so amply. Let’s pretend for the sake of argument that in the early 1980s Jeff Sessions said five or six very insensitive things about African-Americans.
There is no evidence he has said anything similar since, or the NAACP, liberal law professors, and the Congressional Black Caucus would be talking about those more recent quotes instead the old ones. While Sessions does not agree with all the civil rights policies advocated by those groups, neither has he acted like a person who hates blacks. Would a racist sponsor several pieces of legislation to honor one of his home-state heroines, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks? Would he have voted to confirm the first African American (Eric Holder) to hold the job he now aspires to?
And why do civil rights groups dredge up racist and racially insensitive Republican remarks from 30 years ago, but give Democrats a pass for similar but much more recent comments by people like Harry Reid and Joe Biden?
In fact, 30 years after the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D- W.Va.) said he would rather die “than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds” he was the Democratic whip. And if there is no sunset date on grudges against those who utter racist remarks, why did Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden work so comfortably with Byrd as he served as President Pro Tem of the Senate (third in line for the presidency) until 2010?
But that’s the dirty secret. Democrats and the civil rights establishment are mostly just pretending to be upset by racist remarks uttered when a majority of Americans were still using rotary phones. They don’t agree with Sessions on policy matters, and are unfairly trying to lampoon him as the worst caricature of an Alabama politician. That’s why some liberals have taken to calling him by his full name “Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III” with its whiff of Southern decadence and evocation of Confederate luminaries Pres. Jefferson Davis and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. (These are the same people who foam at the mouth at any mention of “Barack Hussein Obama.”)
Is it really best for civil rights if America has no statute of limitations on racially insensitive remarks by Republicans? Especially since the GOP is about to control virtually every cranny of the nation’s government, one might think liberals would be eager to drop the grudges of the 1980s and start building coalitions by evaluating people’s racial bona fides by how they treat diverse human beings today.
But that’s the playbook of Democrats in Washington these days. They’re profligate with amnesty if it means millions of new loyal voters, but stingy with it when faced with political victory for a GOP leader they can’t stand.
If Democrat Senators think Jeff Sessions lacks the talent, the experience, or the vision to be the nation’s top lawyer, they should reject his nomination. But if they really have to reach back to the early 1980s to demonstrate that the man still is something he may not even have been then, they should just give up.
David Benkof is a columnist for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.