Explaining Jeff Sessions

I have known Jeff Sessions for a long time.  In 1994, he was running for Alabama attorney general, and I was running for the congressional seat presently occupied by Mo Brooks.  Jeff and I, then, were on the same GOP ticket in my congressional district, and we showed up at times on the same stump.  He won, and I lost.  Out of 50,000 votes cast in the primary, I came up 23 votes short.

Since then, I have watched from the sidelines and have been a constant fan of Jeff Sessions.  I particularly admired him when he jumped out front and endorsed Donald Trump before any other senator did.

After Trump's victory, Sessions accepted the attorney general's job, and, to the chagrin of Trump and the surprise of many others, promptly recused himself from the most important business facing the Department of Justice.  This was a cosmic error.  It, for example, has had the bizarre result of having one of the president's employees, Mr. Mueller, working assiduously to destroy his boss.

I will here attempt to throw some light on Sessions's jolting behavior. 

Aside from the commonality of our views, my liking for him comes naturally.  He grew up in a small town in Alabama's Black Belt, as I did, and when he speaks, you notice the same occasionally elided phonemes as when I talk.  My after-school job was in a grocery store; for Jeff, it was in a hardware store, where he sold, among other things, horse collars.  He was a Boy Scout – in fact, an Eagle Scout.

But Jeff is not an aggressive fighter.  To illustrate: When preparing to run for A.G. of Alabama, he was given a list of names and numbers to call and ask for money.  He made a call or two with meager results, hung up the phone, and headed for the door.  "I can't do this," he said.  The Mobile County GOP chairman caught him by the sleeve and dragged him back to the phone.

And I have a personal anecdote.  I was in a conversation with Jeff, discussing an issue that carried great emotion and on which few dared to speak.  Aware of the intense controversy, Jeff did not want to discuss it.  I asked: if I sent a letter, would he read it?  "No," he said.  "Don't send it!"  Astonishing!  A politician telling a longtime supporter not to send him a letter!  Despite this rather rough tête-à-tête, when we met a few days later, we greeted each other, not with anger, but with chuckles.

My friend Jeff is no bare-knuckles fighter.  At this critical time, what we need for our attorney general is an ass-kicking George Patton; what we have is a soft-spoken Billy Graham.  Patton and Graham were both great Americans, but suppose they swapped jobs – Gen. Billy Graham in 1944 trying to extract our troops from their entrapment in the Bulge, while Rev. George Patton was imploring sinners in his congregation to answer an altar call.

Need I carry this further?  Jeff is no Patton, and no amount of friendly encouragement can make him so.  Personalities are not malleable.  In a word, Jeff Sessions is a splendid man caught by circumstances in a job for which he is ill suited.  For the good of all, he should be reassigned to a job for which he is more suitable.

Hugh McInnish is a freelance writer who lives with a retired schoolmarm who is his wife, critic, and proofreader.  He can be reached at mcinnish@comcast.net.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

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