There will be plenty of time to comment on Donald TrumpDonald TrumpWelcome to the world of political extremes Chuck Todd tells Conway that blaming the media is a ‘crutch’ Gingrich: Trump supporters would be disappointed with Romney as secretary of State MORE‘s Cabinet and White House appointments to positions of high importance. (Excuse me for not referring to him as “president-elect,” but at this point I cannot bring myself to do just that. And technically he is not; the electors in the respective states have not convened. Dec. 19 is the exact date when they do so.)
But Trump’s very first appointments are so terribly offensive they need to be immediately reviewed and denounced.
Stephen Bannon as his No. 1 adviser inside the White House is frightening and ominous. Bannon is the purveyor of the surging alt-right philosophy that inspires hate and bigotry through an ideology of white nationalism.
To think that Bannon is recognized and rewarded for his past statements, history and ideology with such a position close to the president is beyond belief. Whatever Trump says to mildly denounce the alt-right views, he demonstrates to the country and the world by this appointment where his true heart and head actually reside.
It is your main job during this transition time to project tolerance, fairness and inclusiveness to a severely divided and polarized nation.
Why would someone select Bannon, who projects none of these essential qualities?
Make no mistake: Bannon was Trump’s first appointment. The chief of staff position — given to Reince Priebus — was ranked below Bannon in the initial press release. The one who is deemed to be the top adviser to the next president holds and advocates beliefs that are repugnant, repulsive and contrary to the core foundation of our American democracy.
He is a person who can truly be labeled “un-American.”
Bannon’s position does not require Senate confirmation, though. I have no doubt that if it did, he would not be confirmed. Even with a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, there are enough Republicans who would not only vote against Bannon, but denounce him on the floor.
But there is an appointment that does require Senate confirmation, and the appointee is equally bad.
Sen. Jeff Sessions SessionsTrump marks change for criminal justice reform GOP senators wary of nuking filibuster Trump’s wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything MORE (R) of Alabama has been selected by Trump as attorney general. Sessions was the one and only U.S. senator who endorsed Trump during the Republican primary, remember.
And Trump prizes loyalty above everything else. The appointment, I presume, is a big thank-you to Sessions.
But loyalty should never be a substitute for qualifications for office. Sessions is eminently unqualified to hold this position of such extraordinary importance.
What disqualifies most of all is his history record and personal statements on civil rights. The New York Times tells a story that a prosecutor named J. Gerald Hebert went to Sessions’s office in 1981 and told Sessions that a “federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer” a disgrace to his race “for representing black clients.”
Sessions was, at the time, the U.S. attorney in Mobile, Alabama.
To this remark, Sessions — according to Hebert — said, “Well, maybe he is.”
During testimony on Sessions’s attempt to be a federal district court judge in 1986, Herbert stated that Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”
If that was not enough, during that same Senate hearing, an African-American prosecutor, Thomas Figures, testified that Sessions had called him “boy.” Sessions denied calling him “boy,” “but did not dispute the substance of the other remarks.”
In the end, Sessions’s nomination was blocked by the Senate Judiciary Committee and never made it to the Senate floor. Notably, Howell Heflin (D) voted against him, something almost unheard of given that Heflin was Session’s home-state senator and the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The attorney general is the chief guardian and protector of the Bill of Rights and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Why would anyone select someone like Sessions to adhere, advocate and advance these principles when his views are so hostile to these principles?
A person such as Sessions has no business even being considered for the office. I truly hope that he will not be confirmed for attorney general as he was not confirmed for a federal judgeship 30 years earlier.
Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.