The confirmation hearings of Trump appointees—as the WSJ delicately puts it—are “likely to generate significant resistance from Democrats.” In Jeff Sessions’ case, some ancient accusations against him of being a racist have been trotted out, and he is denying them:
Mr. Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, said allegations that he is sympathetic to groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or is otherwise racially biased are “damnably false.” The issue of race has hovered over the selection of Mr. Sessions to be the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, in part because his 1986 nomination to be a federal judge was rejected amid racial concerns.
Mr. Sessions, like virtually all Mr. Trump’s nominees, is expected to be confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate. But the hearings provide Democrats a platform to try to elicit commitments in various policy areas and to express their displeasure.
It’s all about the venting. “Failure theater,” indeed—but propaganda is not failure, even if Sessions is confirmed. Many people who probably never heard of Sessions before now believe him to be a racist (of course, many of those people also believe all Republicans are racists, but it’s still nice to have a graphic example now and then).
The charges? Ludicrous (as Sessions says):
Mr. Sessions, rather than waiting for pointed questions on the racial issue, took the initiative in his opening statement, saying that as a state prosecutor he had forcefully pushed the prosecution of KKK members accused of killing a young black man, successfully advocating the death penalty for one of them. The KKK has been an issue for Mr. Sessions because at his 1986 hearing, he was asked about allegations that he had told a black federal prosecutor in Alabama who had worked for him that the group “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”
Mr. Sessions suggested at that 1986 hearing that his comment wasn’t meant to be taken seriously and that it was “ludicrous” to think he supported the group.
It’s come down to this as accusations of racism go. Surely there are many racists in the world, but Sessions is not one of them, and a joke is a joke—a thirty-plus-year-old joke.
Oh, and there were the obligatory KKK-garbed protestors at the hearing to add to the drama.