National Review Online, January 9, 2017
I didn’t think I could be more favorably disposed toward Senator Jeff Sessions’s nomination as attorney general until I read today’s front-page New York Times profile, published in anticipation of tomorrow’s confirmation hearing.
You get the impression the reporters themselves concluded that the left-wing racism smears are BS and just wrote a straight news piece on him. The long article is practically an ad for the #ConfirmSessions effort. Pardon the long string of excerpts, but they’re all good:
a devout Methodist and an Eagle Scout who will soon celebrate a golden wedding anniversary with his college sweetheart . . .
he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle . . .
The family lived in a one-story house with no driveway, a small concrete front stoop and a heating system consisting of a fireplace and space heaters . . .
He learned thriftiness from his parents, who grew up during the Depression. . . . Friends joke that even after he attained the comfortable life of a senator decades later, he refused to replace an aging car or the outdated kitchen countertops at his home in Mobile . . .
After he was elected senator, taking a seat on the same Judiciary Committee that denied him the judgeship, Mr. Sessions seemed to bear no grudge against those who had humiliated him in 1986 . . .
“Preventing something bad from happening is just as important to him as getting something good done,” said Marcus Peacock, a former senior aide . . .
Liberals may chafe at such rigidity, but Mr. Sessions shares their disdain for the philosophy of “too big to jail” . . . “Normally, I was taught, if they violated the law, you charge them. If they did not violate the law, you do not charge them.” . . .
“This is what justice is about,” Mr. Sessions told him. “You don’t put your finger on the scale against the poor person who’s trying to make a living.” . . .
“You’ve got to be prepared to say no,” he said in 2011. “And if you do, politicians normally come around. You don’t have to do it publicly. You just tell him, ‘Mr. President, you cannot do that.’” . . .
Sure, the piece quotes Chuck Schumer and a couple of professors criticizing Sessions, but there are a lot of people like that on the left, and this is a news story, after all. And the piece refers to several of his “strident” and “rigid” opinions that are just standard conservative positions shared by scores of millions of people outside the Times’s newsroom, but I’m pretty indulgent of the parochialism of Manhattan bubble-dwellers.
All in all, the piece removes any doubt that Jeff Sessions possesses the rectitude and reverence for the law that are the key qualifications for an attorney general. Any vote against his confirmation based on disagreement over policy would be a mark of shame.