Jeff Sessions Faces Democrats' Decades-Old Race-Baiting Routine

If you watched the Senate hearings for attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, you saw Democrats and their witnesses paint a disturbing picture of their colleague as a man who is insensitive, if not downright hostile, to the rights of minorities.

Much of it sounded familiar because, for more than thirty years now, Democrat senators and their allies have been using the same defamatory tactics against Southern white men nominated to the nation's highest legal offices. The goal is to block their confirmation by exploiting the stereotype that Southerners are racist or otherwise bigoted.

This week marks the second time that Sen. Sessions has been subject to Senate Democrats' go-to strategy of race-baiting (used here to include accusations of bigotry generally). The first time was in 1986, when Sessions -- then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama -- was nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the witnesses they called attempted to portray Sessions as a racist, tenuously citing a voting-fraud case he brought against black politicians and a few isolated remarks he made to colleagues. Their cynical strategy was successful then; the nomination was defeated.

A year later, emboldened by their success, Democrats used similar tactics to defeat Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. That shameful spectacle, in which Ted Kennedy famously warned that Bork's confirmation would bring the return of "segregated lunch counters" and other injustices, reminds us that white males from outside the South can also be victims of Democrats' race-baiting.

But using the technique against white men from former slave states holds a special place in the heart of Senate Democrats.

Presidential nominees were safe from this race-baiting routine while Democrat Bill Clinton was selecting them. But no sooner did Republican George W. Bush win the presidency than did Democrats launch an assault on attorney general nominee John Ashcroft of Missouri, accusing him of being hostile to civil rights, gay rights, and the like.

That set the stage for a seemingly endless campaign of personal destruction against Southern white men nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Courts of Appeal, the highest level of courts below the Supreme Court. In 2007, I documented the sorry fact that every such nominee was subjected to a smear campaign focused, in six of the seven instances, on cries that he was insensitive to the rights of minorities, women, and gays.

Now, with another Republican president about to enter the White House, Senate Democrats and allied interest groups have seamlessly returned to their old race-baiting tricks. Jeff Sessions is their first target, just like John Ashcroft was when Bush became president. It is very predictable, because these tactics are in the blood of progressivism.