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Opinion | Hope springs eternal, I hope

Every now and then, I’ll take on conservative columnist Steve Flowers, who has always, to my knowledge, been gracious under criticism.

Flowers has been on the front lines in the political wars, unlike me, who comes out of the mountains after the battle is fought to shoot the survivors.

Flowers knows few politicians can succeed if they have thin skins. Donald Trump is an exception.

So is Jeff Sessions.

Flowers predicts that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, the only Democrat to win statewide office in Alabama in forever, is a sure-loser in his re-election bid. Flowers goes on to forecast that Jeff Sessions will likely win the Republican nomination for Senate, though not without a runoff. Secretary of State John Merrill, who also has thin skin, dropped out of the race, likely at the request of a state Republican Party who wants him to wait his turn.

That brings us back to Sessions. He had his turn, and twenty long years of it. As a senator, Sessions was a “stopper.” That means he didn’t propose much to move the state or nation forward. He just stopped stuff from happening, like the curmudgeon he is. Every time I wrote about Sessions’ do-nothingness when he was a U.S. senator, his staff (and he, too) would call and whine to my editors at The Birmingham News. This was back when The News was a real newspaper, not the shell of one that it is today.

Sessions hates criticism. You can tell he does by the way he reacted to Trump bullying him while he was U.S. Attorney General. Trump finally drove Sessions out, but Sessions, who Trump doesn’t support even today, is groveling at Trump’s fat feet because Sessions knows that in Alabama, Trump is more popular than even Jefferson Beauregard.

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Sessions ran afoul of Trump when he recused himself from the Russian investigation, and Trump, who demands loyalty from his minions but never returns the favor to anyone, Tweeted Sessions out of office.

A tip of the hat to Sessions for doing the right thing there, just as Flowers noted in his column for APR Wednesday. What worries me is that Flowers will be right, though, and Sessions will regain his U.S. Senate seat. That means we lose a very effective Doug Jones for an always ineffective Jeff Sessions.

The winner of the Republican Primary on March 3, 2020 will be our next U.S. Senator,” writes Flowers. Winning the GOP Primary for any statewide office in a presidential year is tantamount to election in the Heart of Dixie.”

True, it has been that way. Until Doug Jones upset the Republican cart and won the “always Republican” Senate seat in 2017, right after a presidential year.

Bottom line: A vote for Sessions is a vote to take Alabama backward.

Unlike Flowers, I refuse to count Jones out, but I’m not so naïve to believe Jones will have an easy time of it, regardless of his Republican opponent.

Sessions, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, ex-football coach Tommy Tuberville, and the others in the Republican field are trampling all over themselves sucking up to Trump. That demonstrates just how little independence and effectiveness they will have in the Senate.

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But efforts by Flowers and the others to paint Jones as some crazy-eyed liberal is, well, crazy. The person with crazy eyes in the race for U.S. senator is child molester and Republican Roy Moore, the disgraced former chief justice of Alabama.

I wish Jones were MORE progressive. He’s clearly a moderate who has tried and sometimes succeeded in helping Alabama, despite his Neanderthal detractors.

I’m probably giving Flowers an “I-told-you-so moment” here,but I will keep the faith. Jones is not an embarrassment to Alabama, where Sessions and any of the other Republicans are certain to be.

Flowers is sure of the outcome, though: “The bottom line is whichever Republican – Jeff Sessions, Tommy Tuberville, or Bradley Byrne – wins the GOP nomination, any one of them beats the Democrat Doug Jones. It does not matter how much left-wing money Jones raises from California, it is all for naught. Alabama is a conservative Republican state. Jones really should run for the Senate from California.

That is laughable. (I laugh here.) Jones is much too conservative for California.

Perhaps … yes, maybe … Flowers actually is giving me an “I-told-you-so moment.” Jones may win again, despite the disingenuous arguments being made by Flowers and other Republicans.

As a literature professor, it is appropriate that I adopt Alexander Pope’s proverb from his “An Essay on Man”: Hope springs eternal.

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For me, yes, it does.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]


Written By

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.


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