by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
This week’s confirmation hearings for Sen. Jeff Sessions portend trouble for Democrats promising to mount an effective resistance to the Trump administration.
Senate Democrats have adopted a fairly hostile posture to the full range of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. They promised to subject each candidate to the “Garland treatment,” hoping to turn the appointments process into a slog engulfing the early months of Trump’s presidency. If any nomination was to be stymied, even scuttled, Sessions’ was the most vulnerable.
A failed confirmation had once before left Sessions a diminished figure, producing dubious if potent allegations of racism that hang around his nomination like an albatross. His positions on sentencing reform and civil asset forfeiture make him an outlier even among his Republican colleagues. A unified Democratic caucus and an aggressive message supplemented by a concerted effort to pickoff the handful of Republican senators with strong libertarian streaks could easily have beaten him back.
Instead, Sessions will almost certainly become attorney general. …
… Though the Trump presidency seems, and probably will be, a powerful banner around which Democrats will rally, the Sessions hearing placed in sharp relief the extent to which the party and its allies are scattered and directionless. The cleavages between interest groups, Senate Democrats, and the White House were wide and easily avoided. Their performance gives the appearance of flat-footedness.