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Outsiders vs. Insiders: When the media isn’t the ‘enemy of the people’ it’s boring us to death

With all the talk about the upcoming battle within the Democrat Party to determine a media friendly presidential nominee to take on Donald Trump in 2020, there’s been precious little courtesy and commentary devoted to Trump’s ability to influence Republican primaries in the lead-up to the next “most important election of our lifetimes.”

Of course speculation is rampant on whether Trump will face internal opposition himself, but to what extent will Congresshis influence play a factor in individual state primary contests? Will Trump’s endorsement guarantee a candidate success with the appreciative conservative grassroots, or in the alternative, mean the kiss of death for those who don’t receive his nod of approval?

One particularly fascinating test case is the 2020 Alabama GOP Senate race. Former Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly is considering a run for his old seat (opposite fish-out-of-water Democrat Sen. Doug Jones) and some wonder what Trump will do when pressed with this will-he-or-won’t-he situation.

Daniel Strauss and James Arkin of Politico reported, “Republicans are certain they can win back the Alabama Senate seat they lost in spectacular fashion last year. They just aren’t sure whether Jeff Sessions is the one to do it…

“Though Sessions would be the clear front-runner if he runs, his frayed ties with Trump could create an opening for other Republicans to make a play for the seat — and cause a messy primary similar to the one that cost the party the seat last year, several Alabama Republicans tracking the situation said.

“POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen GOP operatives and potential candidates in the state about the prospect of a Sessions comeback bid and the forecast for the Senate race against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). They agreed that Sessions remains overwhelmingly popular in his home state after representing it for nearly two decades in the Senate.”

While this subject is a clear example of media reporters having too little to discuss during the critically slow Thanksgiving news cycle, Sessions’ illustration does present several interesting scenarios. As everyone knows by now, Sessions was one of the first Republican lawmakers to openly back Trump during the 2016 GOP primary race and was instrumental in lending credibility (with conservative Republicans) to the upstart New Yorker outsider’s presidential bid.

Sessions was therefore destined to receive special consideration for a top Trump administration post if the candidate pulled off the unlikeliest of upsets; therefore no one was shocked when Trump’s transition team anointed the mild-mannered and soft-spoken Alabamian with one of the premier cabinet positions within the new government. Conservatives beamed from ear-to-ear at the prospect of longtime principled illegal immigration opponent Sessions overseeing federal law enforcement.

To have Sessions’ unimpeachable character in charge of the FBI and Justice Department? It was like a dream come true. Gone were the days of illicit media leaks, unauthorized privacy-destroying snooping operations, extra-legal ignoring of federal statutory law and general cronyism that pervaded the highest reaches of the DOJ during Barack Obama’s two terms. Would Jeff Sessions be held in contempt of Congress (like first Obama AG Eric Holder was) or clandestinely plot to fix investigations in politicians’ favor on airport tarmacs (like second Obama AG Loretta Lynch did with Bill Clinton in Phoenix in June of 2016)?

Not likely. Sessions seemed like the right ethical and moral man to assume the AG position and impartially clear out the slime and scrape up the scum in the highest reaches of government. Where Sessions was concerned the law was the law. Democrats realized what a Sessions tenure might mean for their sinister swamp schemes – and they fought his nomination with an intensity similar to that for soon-to-be Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Sessions ultimately earned Senate approval and then the trouble started. Shortly after taking office rumors circulated of Sessions’ “meetings” with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. With FBI Director James Comey making the rounds spreading spurious gossip and passing off innuendo as absolute truth, the media went crazy in accusing the new Attorney General of being an “insider” in Trumpian Russian collusion. It’s almost like the man had a direct phone line to Vladimir Putin on his desk. It was that bad.

Democrats accused Sessions of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a compromised and corrupted sleazebag politician, a fox guarding the proverbial henhouse. The pressure to pull back became extreme, forcing Sessions to commit the biggest blunder of his professional lifetime – recusing himself from any matters dealing with the Russia investigation. Career swamp dweller Rod Rosenstein assumed responsibility for keeping an eye on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the rest is history.

President Trump didn’t spare his feelings on the matter either, mentioning in numerous tweets and media interviews how Sessions wasn’t doing his job. Democrats, knowing Sessions would never go back on his vow to stay away from all things Russia, began defending the Attorney General as though he were on their side. The Mueller witch hunt (I mean “investigation”) subsequently went down numerous rabbit holes and found nothing.

The president fumed and everyone speculated Trump was only biding his time until making a change. This month’s midterm elections came and went and Sessions “resigned” a few weeks ago. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker’s now receiving the incoming flak from the media’s bias guns and Sessions is left contemplating what to do next with his life.

Not being familiar with Alabama’s internal political dynamics it’s impossible to forecast how this story ends, whether Sessions jumps willingly back into the political ring (where he’ll be constantly reminded of his brushes with Trump) or quietly retire from public life. Sessions found there’s a world of difference between serving in the legislative versus executive branches – and still possessing a desire to make a difference, he might go back to Capitol Hill as a junior senator (in a certainly winnable race) and slog through the mud like he always did.

Trump is no fool – deep down he’d be happy to have Sessions back in the senate. And then Sessions would faithfully do everything he could to advance the Make America Great Again agenda from his seat on the senate floor. Why? Because MAGA is what Sessions fought for from the beginning. Trump’s and Sessions’ destinies were intertwined because they share common political values and goals. Wanting the same things makes allies out of would-be enemies.

If #NeverTrumpers think Sessions would carry grudges and loft bombs at his reelected boss (this is 2021, right?) they’re gravely mistaken. The Alabama senator has far too much personal integrity to allow personal hurt feelings to get in the way of advancing the conservative cause. Trump must feel the same way.

Would Trump endorse Sessions’ return bid? Sure, why not? It’d make for a great story – and everyone knows Trump loves to get the media talking. And even if Trump doesn’t endorse, Sessions would likely win easily anyway. Trump doesn’t back losers, either – does anyone truly believe he’d endorse someone else (in the 2020 Alabama GOP primary) in the middle of his own presidential reelection campaign simply due to spite? Would Trump risk alienating the conservative grassroots, most of whom still view Sessions favorably?

Never. Trump will either choose Sessions or say nothing about the contest. Anything else is just media fantasy. In the beginning the Sessions ship looked shiny and new and then sprung leaks in many conservatives’ estimation. But we’re still a long way from 2020 and by that time most will have forgotten – or at least forgiven – the usually reliable Alabama stalwart.

Besides, first and foremost, conservatives are practical people. Getting the job done is a big part of earning popularity, which is why it’s hard to fathom how John Kasich’s name keeps popping up as a possible GOP challenger to Trump. Naomi Lim reported in the Washington Examiner, “Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich inched closer Sunday to announcing a 2020 presidential bid, saying he was having earnest conversations about the prospect of engaging in another campaign for the White House.

“During an interview on ABC News' ‘This Week,’ Kasich said he is ‘very seriously’ considering a bid when asked about his presidential ambitions. ‘These are earnest conversations that go on virtually every day with some of my friends, with my family. Look, we need different leadership, there isn't any question about it. I'm not only just worried about the tone, and the name calling, and the division in our country, and the partisanship, but I also worry about the policies.’

“’I'm out there trying to do what I can do,’ he continued. ‘I don't know when I will have to make a decision, but let's not -- let's be clear, I'm not being coy. I'm [not] just trying to do this for some kind of a game. This is really, really serious to me.’”

If this really is a game Kasich isn’t a competent player. Who continues to pay for Kasich’s jaunts to New Hampshire and across the country promoting his improbable notions of “bipartisanship” and togetherness?

He could be drawing funds from leftist #resistance billionaires whose sole purpose in life is to create distraction and wreak havoc on American traditions by any means possible, including by attempting to sow dissent within Republican ranks. By now the problem is most #NeverTrumpers have either joined the Trump cause or are keeping to themselves because none of their “end of the Republican party” and “he’s ruining conservatism” hyperbolic predictions came to fruition.

Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are in their final weeks in Congress. Even if they were invited to appear on Sunday news shows (no doubt by desperate producers looking for anyone in a suit to say bad things about Trump), no one pays them mind any longer and they’ll be forgotten by mid-January.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse also chimes in with Trump criticism yet votes pretty much the way Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requires him to. Mitt Romney’s flip-flopped his way to filling Orrin Hatch’s legacy seat but there are few signs the 2012 Republican presidential loser’s coming to Washington to make trouble for Trump from within the GOP. Most of the remaining House Republicans are conservatives who appreciate the president and his agenda.

So where’s John Kasich getting his “seriously thinking about running” inspiration? None of it makes sense, unless you defy conventional wisdom and search for alternative explanations.

When there’ve been intra-party competitors to sitting presidents in the past it’s over a certain issue or cause, not a difference in “tone” or presentation. Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in 1992 on immigration and culture and ended up capturing a respectable 23 percent of the overall primary vote (Buchanan won no states, however).

Kasich, on the other hand, isn’t associated with any particular movement or concern – other than his well-known gripes about the foulness of “tone” in Washington. How would his challenge play out? How would Kasich establish himself as a contender? Ross Perot ran as an anti-establishment independent in 1992, but he’s rich. Kasich? He lives off of others’ dole. Is George Soros or Tom Steyer bankrolling him?

Smells fishy, doesn’t it? Democrats aren’t content to stay within their own realm it seems. According to soon-to-be-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they’re coming to Washington to save the world from Republicans. Pelosi and Rep. John Sarbanes wrote at The Washington Post, “[W]ith a system that works for the people, we will deliver policy outcomes that make life better for all Americans: We will lower health-care costs and out-of-control prices for prescription drugs. We will rebuild the United States' infrastructure, raise the minimum wage and put leverage back in the hands of workers and consumers.

“We will finally advance common-sense, bipartisan solutions to prevent gun violence. We will confront discrimination with the Equality Act, pass the Dream Act to protect the patriotic young undocumented immigrants who came here as children, and take the first step toward comprehensive immigration reform.

“We have a responsibility to honor the vision of our founders, the sacrifices made to expand the right to vote and our duty to the American people. With bold action to fix what is broken in our democracy, we can make progress for working families and renew Americans' trust in Congress to tackle the issues that matter most.”

Open up those goody bags, people, the Democrats are coming! Maybe after reading Pelosi’s and Sarbanes’ promises to make it rain federal money, John Kasich will discover Trump ain’t so bad after all. It could happen.

None of what Democrats promise will be realized unless the Republican-controlled senate and President Trump give the okay (thank you, Constitution!). It especially ain’t gonna happen if Democrats keep insisting Republicans “suppress the vote.”

It almost seems the bored American media searches for topics when it reports on a possible 2020 Jeff Sessions conflict with Trump, the ever-revolving soap opera of John Kasich and Nancy Pelosi’s wish-list for the upcoming Congress. An anxious public awaits political news of substance.

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