- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Politics seems to be driving New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Perhaps he’s setting the groundwork for a 2020 presidential run.

What else can explain his about-face when it comes to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general?

Just last February, Mr. Booker said he felt “blessed and honored to have partnered with Sen. Sessions” in passing legislation that honored civil rights advocates.

“And so this is truly one of my life’s greatest moments,” Mr. Booker said. “I am humbled to be able to participate here and pay tribute to some of the extraordinary Americans whose footsteps paved the way for me and my generation. I feel blessed and honored to have partnered with Senator Sessions in being the Senate sponsors of this important award.”

The legislation awarded 1965 voting rights marches foot soldiers in Selma, Alabama, with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Yet, on Tuesday, Mr. Booker — in an unprecedented move — is expected to testify against Mr. Sessions.

“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Mr. Booker told CNN, in a move that would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.

“But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience,” Mr. Booker said.

Mr. Sessions has been targeted in a smear campaign by the left, which is looking to highlight comments made during Mr. Sessions’ 1986 nomination to a federal judgeship, which was rejected by the U.S. Senate.

While serving as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Mr. Sessions was accused of inappropriately prosecuting black voter-rights activists and making racially insensitive comments and jokes.

Indeed, NAACP officials have already been arrested in an anti-Sessions protest, and two men dressed as KKK members tried to disrupt his hearing Tuesday by shouting from the gallery.

However, Mr. Sessions’ record in the Senate as has been unassailable, where he’s partnered across party lines with Mr. Booker awarding those who marched in Selma, as well as coauthoring groundbreaking legislation that reduces the disparity in sentencing for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine, a legal distinction that contributed to mass incarceration of black Americans.

Still, if Mr. Booker has any aspirations to the White House, he knows the only way to win over the left is to act as partisan as possible — even if it’s unfair.

As Jim Geraghty at the National Review noted: “Democratic primary voters detest Donald Trump, and they’re likely to feel the same way three years from now. If Booker wants to be the Democratic nominee, he can’t win it as ‘Mr. Bipartisan.’ So we should expect Booker to pursue the Sanders-Howard Dean liberal ideal in the same way he chased the image of being a post-partisan healer, with grand, showy gestures that don’t accomplish much.”

How unfortunate.

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