- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Expect the left to use Mr. Sessions’ past statements on race as ammunition against him, while ignoring his record since then. Also expect those same people to make the argument that Rep. Keith Ellison’s controversial past statements are a non-sequitur in his bid to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Indeed, it’s already happening.

The Nation tweeted of Mr. Sessions’ AG pick: “Jeff Sessions was too racist to be confirmed by Republicans in 1985,” speaking of his failed confirmation hearings to be a federal judge that year.

Yet, The Nation also wrote earlier this week: “Keith Ellison is the Leader the DNCneeds.”

To be clear, Mr. Ellison has likened 9/11 to the “Reichstag fire” that put former President George W. Bush in a similar position to Adolf Hitler, he’s defended the leader of the Nation of Islam and labeled his 2012 re-election competitor a “lowlife scumbag.”

Yet, the left has dismissed those statements as old and in the past. It’s time to move on, they say.

But not with Mr. Sessions. Let’s go back to 1986.

In Senate confirmation hearings that year, Mr. Sessions’ colleagues in sworn testimony said he called the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” groups that “force civil-rights down the throats of people.”

Mr. Sessions also, according to colleague testimony at the time, joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”

In his own testimony, Mr. Sessions said his remarks were taken out of context and meant in jest. He said he thought the Klan to be “a force for hatred and bigotry” and that the marijuana quote was a just a joke.

“I’m often loose with my tongue. I may have said something about the NAACP being un-American or Communist, but I meant no harm by it,” Mr. Sessions said.

He was rejected from the post.

Years after the confirmation hubbub — and once Mr. Sessions was nominated as ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee — Arlen Spector, the (then GOP) Pennsylvania senator who voted against Mr. Sessions, said his vote was a mistake because he had “since found that Sen. Sessions is egalitarian.”

Indeed, so did former Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, who helped lead the smear on Mr. Sessions’ character during his confirmation hearings.

“Say what you will about him,” former longtime Senate Democratic communications aide Jim Manley told the Almanac of American Politics. “He was always nice to [the late Ted] Kennedy and other Democrats as well.”

During his time in the Senate, Mr. Sessions teamed with Democrats to work on criminal justice reform and worked with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, to put strict limits on non-military federal spending.

He’s been a principled conservative who has fought against illegal immigration, even being dubbed “amnesty’s worst enemy” in 2014 by the National Review. After Mr. Sessions was rejected as a federal judge, he became the attorney general for Alabama, and had a distinguished tenure there.

But never-mind that. Let’s rehash the 1986 hearings.

Cue, Mr. Trump critic Ana Navarro.

“For AG, Trump nominates a man who was previously rejected by Judiciary Comt over civil rights concerns and racially incendiary statements,” Ms. Navarro tweeted.

Liberal Website Right Wing Watch ran a headline reading: “Trump ally Sessions has an alarming history of opposing civil rights.”

And, Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn tweeted of Mr. Sessions’ pick: “Trump sends great message of healing and inclusion to African Americans with Jeff Sessions pick.”

But let’s forgive and forget Mr. Ellison’s past — because, well, he’s a liberal.

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