Apparently Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions, isn't just wrong on policy - he's also personally a closeted racist and gay-hating misogynist. At least that's what left-wing outlets are saying.
Are these racist accusations against Jeff Sessions, a southerner, genuine? Or is it just a knee-jerk reaction the left has to southern attorney general nominees? It's hard to say, because the left deployed the exact same script against another southerner, George W. Bush's 2001 attorney general nominee John Ashcroft.
For example, here's how Slate spelled out the “immense disaster” that Jeff Sessions would be for civil rights:
Sessions is an outwardly racist, xenophobic, homophobic misogynist—and he will now direct the enforcement of federal civil rights law in the United States.
In 2001, here's what liberals online were saying about John Ashcroft:
It would be hard to argue that Ashcroft is not a woman-hating, patriarchal, medieval, right-wing monster. His reactionary record speaks for itself.
In 2016, here's what the Huffington Post wrote about Sessions:
...was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations he called a black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor, joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use, and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
In 2001, here's what Mother Jones wrote about Ashcroft:
...his past actions and positions-his efforts to criminalize abortion and even contraceptives such as the morning-after pill; his resistance to school desegregation orders in Missouri; his smear campaign against a Missouri Supreme Court justice nominated for a federal judgeship; his supportive words for a magazine published by racists.
There are even similarities to how the two were defended. Black pastors who have worked with Sessions have pushed back against the claims that he is racist:
Sessions helped de-segregate schools in Alabama- a huge issue. Also he got the death penalty for a KKK murderer. I think that would qualify you as someone who is eliminating racism, not one who is perpetrating racism.
Similarly, back in 2001, John Ashcroft was publicly defended by a black attorney who personally knew him:
As an African-American who has had the opportunity to know, and work with, Mr. Ashcroft, I certainly hope that Americans, including members of the African-American community, will take the time to learn firsthand about his commitment to affirmative access and inclusion of African-Americans and other minorities in all facets of American life.
Ashcroft was eventually confirmed by the Senate and became Bush's first attorney general. A year later, in 2002, Slate realized how hyperbolically out-of-control the left's smear campaign was:
No one, after all, could be quite the demon that liberals portrayed—a racist, gay-bashing prude intent on transforming the United States into a Christian theocracy.
A year from now, when Jeff Sessions is serving as Trump's first Attorney General, I'd imagine the left's rhetorical attacks on Sessions will be aging as well as the attacks on Ashcroft did.