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Hullabaloo


Friday, May 01, 2009

 
Engineers Of The Train Wreck

by digby

Blogometer picked up this interesting tidbit from Red State that perfectly illustrates the right's problem:

Meanwhile, RedState's hogan wants Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to replace ex-Republican Arlen Specter (D-PA) as the Ranking Member on the Judiciary Cmte: "Jeff Sessions should be Republican Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee. Not [UT Sen.] Orrin Hatch. Not [IA Sen.] Chuck Grassley. [...] To have Orrin Hatch or Chuck Grassley at the helm would be an unmitigated disaster. Each are cut from the same cloth -- that of the old guard Republicans in the Senate who have given us the train wreck that the Party has become. They would hire terrible staffers who would neither be the smartest lawyers nor actually conservative -- and, potentially, maintain a significant number of Specter's former staff. Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, would field a talented team who could educate America on just who America is getting in the next Supreme Court justice."


Sessions is an ignorant ideologue who was denied a federal judgeship when it turned out he was a raging bigot:

Sessions entered national politics in the mid-'80s not as a politician but as a judicial nominee. Recommended by a fellow Republican from Alabama, then-Senator Jeremiah Denton, Sessions was Ronald Reagan's choice for the U.S. District Court in Alabama in the early spring of 1986. Reagan had gotten cocky by then, as more than 200 of his uberconservative judicial appointees had been rolled out across the country without serious opposition (this was pre-Robert Bork). That is, until the 39-year-old Sessions came up for review.

Sessions was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. The year before his nomination to federal court, he had unsuccessfully prosecuted three civil rights workers--including Albert Turner, a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr.--on a tenuous case of voter fraud. The three had been working in the "Black Belt" counties of Alabama, which, after years of voting white, had begun to swing toward black candidates as voter registration drives brought in more black voters. Sessions's focus on these counties to the exclusion of others caused an uproar among civil rights leaders, especially after hours of interrogating black absentee voters produced only 14 allegedly tampered ballots out of more than 1.7 million cast in the state in the 1984 election. The activists, known as the Marion Three, were acquitted in four hours and became a cause célèbre. Civil rights groups charged that Sessions had been looking for voter fraud in the black community and overlooking the same violations among whites, at least partly to help reelect his friend Senator Denton.

On its own, the case might not have been enough to stain Sessions with the taint of racism, but there was more. Senate Democrats tracked down a career Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, who testified, albeit reluctantly, that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU ) "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." Hebert said Sessions had claimed these groups "forced civil rights down the throats of people." In his confirmation hearings, Sessions sealed his own fate by saying such groups could be construed as "un-American" when "they involve themselves in promoting un-American positions" in foreign policy. Hebert testified that the young lawyer tended to "pop off" on such topics regularly, noting that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases. Sessions acknowledged making many of the statements attributed to him but claimed that most of the time he had been joking, saying he was sometimes "loose with [his] tongue." He further admitted to calling the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a "piece of intrusive legislation," a phrase he stood behind even in his confirmation hearings


All of that's a GOP qualification for elected office in Alabama, so being rejected on that basis naturally vaulted him into the Senate. Making him the ranking member today means the Republicans will put their ugliest face forward during judicial confirmation hearings. But hey, it's their long, ongoing funeral.

The assertion that he's the guy with the smart staffers may very well be true. I don't know. But the idea that it's Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley who are to blame for the Party's fortunes, while confederate radicals like Sessions are the great hope for the future makes me laugh. And it's a perfect illustration of the GOP's problem. Hatch and Grassley are to the right of the vast majority of Americans at the moment but have longstanding mainstream conservo-cred. Sessions, on the other hand, is the very picture of the harsh, hard-right movement conservatism that the country has rejected. Bring him on.

These wingnuts truly seem to believe that the reason people voted for a left leaning Democratic government across the board was because they actually wanted a far right government. If that makes sense to you, then you must be a conservative too.



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