We found a leader, but hardly anybody noticed. Never mind Rubio and Ryan, or people named Bush. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is the best we’ve got, and he’s plenty good. In fact, his words on the Senate floor when he implored his colleagues to reject the nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury secretary are as good as it gets. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anything as elegant, compelling, honorable, and philosophically coherent as Sessions’ speech on the 27th of February.
You probably missed it, what with all the excitement of the epic gladiatorial combat between Bob Woodward and the White House, and the Hagel confirmation carnival, and the Rodman diplomatic mission to Pyongyang.
Sessions laid out Lew’s incredible record of catastrophic budget proposals, which, as Sessions noted, had been unanimously rejected by Congress and decimated in scholarly and editorial analyses. But all that, terrible though it was, and quite sufficient to disqualify anyone from running Treasury, was in a way the least of it. The worst was Lew’s nonchalance in lying to the Senate.
I have discussed his repeated, knowing, and deliberately false statements about those budget plans—most notoriously his claim that “Our budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we’re not adding to the debt anymore; we’re spending money that we have each year, and then we can work on bringing down our national debt.”
All false, knowingly and deliberately false. Sessions refused to sit for it. He moved into more philosophical territory, urging the rejection of Lew not only because the man himself is unworthy of the office, but to “defend the integrity of the Senate, to defend the right of our constituents to hear the truth from government officials, and to defend the idea, the very concept, of truth itself.”
Because if you vote for Lew, you’re refusing to stand up for the truth, not just about this one nomination, but about what’s happening to America. About what President Obama is doing to us. Sessions put it so clearly that even the proverbial blind man could see it: whereas the president has repeatedly said that he had a plan to “pay down our debt,” he doesn’t. It’s totally false. The proof? “This is the 1,400th day since Senate Democrats passed a budget.”
If Obama and the Democrats had a plan, we’d have seen it. They don’t have one. Why not? Sessions: “Because they decided it would be better to offer no solution, no plan to help struggling Americans, and instead to tear down anyone who dared to offer a plan to solve our nation’s economic problems.”
The president and his followers have no interest in solving our problems; their interest is in annihilating the opposition. Sessions: “attack anyone who dares to reduce the size of the bureaucracy. Attack anyone who suggests Washington is too powerful. Attack, attack, attack—while never offering anything to help Americans who are struggling every day.”
Because they are building a vast, intrusive state that they hope will solidify their power for generations to come. Jack Lew is an avatar of that frightful mission, and Sessions implored his colleagues to reject both the nominee and the mission.