Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Jeff Sessions testifies before Congress, and Frank Bruni is saddened:
... as I watched him, a flustered Gump in the headlights, I saw a broader story, a dark parable of bets misplaced and souls under siege. This is what happens when you draw too close to Trump.

You’re diminished at best, mortified at worst. You’ve either done work dirtier than you meant to or told fibs bigger than you ought to or been sullied by contact or been thrown to the wolves.

One day, you’re riding high on the myth of Trump as a transformative figure and reasoning that some tweaking of norms and maybe even breaking of rules are an inevitable part of the unconventional equation.

The next, you’re ensnared in his recklessness....
To Bruni, the Trump White House is
a reputation-savaging place. Ask Rod Rosenstein for sure. Herbert McMaster, too. Also James Mattis. Sean Spicer. Reince Priebus. Rex Tillerson. Dan Coats. All have been under pressure, undercut or contradicted. They’ve been asked to pledge their fidelity to — even proclaim their adoration for — a man who adores only himself.
Forgive me if I'm dry-eyed, but if you work for Trump and you escape criminal charges, you'll be fine. The people mentioned in that last paragraph are all likely to be safe. Even Sessions is likely to get away with whatever he's done, as he got away with perjury at his confirmation hearing. (I don't believe the Trump-Russia investigation is going to send any of the big fish to jail.)

If you're part of the Washington club -- all the people in that last quoted paragraph -- you'll remain in good standing as long as you're never directly linked to verified Trump wrongdoing. You'll still get to be a TV analyst when this is all over. You'll still be invited on Meet the Press. And if you were seen as having undying loyalty to Trump, you'll be a hero to the right. I look at the Fox News front page and see that Sessions hasn't been "diminished" at all in the eyes of the only kinds of people he's ever cared about -- conservative white people:

And is Bruni seriously talking about Sessions as if he had an unblemished reputation pre-Trump? Critics have long regarded Sessions as an unreconstructed racist -- but he's built a political career on that kind of criticism:
... his political support in Alabama remains spotless: He won the Alabama Attorney General's seat in 1994, followed up with four consecutive wins as U.S. Senator from 1997 to today.

That success, according to Alabama political insiders, can be traced back to the grilling Sessions received from liberal senators like Kennedy and Joe Biden during a confirmation hearing in which he was accused of making racist comments.

The disastrous hearing battered Sessions reputation after his judicial nomination was rejected amid allegations that he once called a black staffer "a boy," that he considered the NAACP as "un-American" and used criminal prosecutions to thwart voting rights for blacks.

The Judiciary hearing, while initially devastating to Sessions, became a rallying cry for his supporters.

"The fact that liberals were against him told the story that he was a conservative," said Steve Flowers, a political columnist and commentator. "Having Ted Kennedy is like having (Barack) Obama against you at that time. It's probably why he won the Attorney General's race...."
In the same way, being attacked as a loyal Trumper is probably enhancing Sessions's reputation among Republicans nationwide. So don't try to make me feel sorry for him.

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