Opinion: Democrats Are Too Nice When Dealing with Racist Republican Jeff Sessions

This isn’t the article I wanted to write while watching the Attorney General confirmation hearing for the established racist (his own party found him too racist to be a federal judge in 1986) Republican Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

But it has to be said.

Based on the hearing at the time of this writing, Democrats, with the exceptions of Senators Leahy, Durbin and Franken, are wasting air time playing Nice Guys and praising Sessions for things they’ve worked on together. Typical Senate behavior (on the part of Democrats these days, not Republicans) and typical of Democrats, for whom reaching across the aisle is a value.

But those times are gone, and they are dealing with a dangerous racist who has been nominated to be the Attorney General.

Did we hear Republicans praising Democrats in the hearing? No. Did they smear President Obama? Yes. Does this seem like an olive branch? No.

Democrats are woefully unprepared for the task at hand, and part of that is due to the very values of the Democratic party. They better find the spine to fight this war at all times, because this is a war and people’s lives are at stake.

Republicans already undermined the Senate tradition of decency and civility. They denied President Obama’s right to have his SCOTUS nominee heard, and then the first time the shoe is on the other foot, Democrats are using air time to praise Republicans.

Democrats need to take media classes. They need to write their questions with a lede they don’t undermine with a need to show “niceness”. No, I’m not advocating rudeness on par with conservative behavior. But being nice to a bully is a dangerous thing.

The Democratic need to be nice is a weakness Republicans exploit.

Niceness is not the same as advocating for peace, justice, equality, rights – those things are achieved by fierce fights.

Democrats are dealing with a man who was a part of denying President Obama the legitimacy to put his choice on the vacant SCOTUS seat, and yet they praise him.

This is a recipe for failure. The press is going to report what Democrats say, so when they open with monologues of praise for Sessions, that’s what’s going to be remembered by the public. Democrats should remember this is a show with dire consequences. If there were anything they wanted the public to know, what would it be? That’s what they should lead with. And they should do it not with a tone of respect, but with a tone of smug superiority as is right when dealing with a noted racist and hate-monger.

That tone is how Republicans are currently speaking about President Obama, by the way. And it is the tone they have held for Democrats for years.

Am I saying Democrats should return that contempt because neener-neener? No. I am saying they should return that contempt because it has been earned by horrific disrespect for American citizens, and protecting those citizens is the damn job.

This failure is truly frightening, as Senate Democrats are really our only hope and they seem terrifyingly unprepared to take on the Trump administration if this hearing is any example of their strategy. Democrats are (in general, with a few exceptions) the only adults, and they should act like they know this.

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