Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - Senate runoff resumes with Trump and Sessions in a Twitter battle

  The U.S. Senate runoff between former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was placed on hold by the coronavirus. The primary on March 3 had Tuberville and Sessions in a dead heat. The runoff was scheduled for March 31. However, the pandemic shutdown placed a freeze on everything politically. The runoff is now set for July 14.

  The campaign shutdown began to melt a little around Memorial Day, and it started with a meltdown between President Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. Trump, our tweeting president, blasted Sessions for the umpteenth time for recusing himself from the probe of Russia while he was attorney general. Sessions refused to do Trump’s bidding, which would have been illegal.  

  Legality, honesty, truthfulness, and integrity are not Trump's forte. He thinks his tenure as president is an extension of his TV reality show, The Apprentice, where he was famously known for the phrase “You’re fired!” He fires anyone associated with him who will not concede to this egocentric bullying, the same way he fired Sessions for not breaking the law. 

  Trump’s tirade of tweets on Memorial Day weekend was vitriolic and juvenile, as is customary for the king of late-night tweeting. Much to folks’ surprise, Sessions tweeted back. The mild-mannered choir boy, Eagle Scout Sessions fought back for the first time. He and Trump exchanged tweeting volleys all weekend. It was quite amusing.

  It remains to be seen what effect this war of words between Trump and Sessions will have on the Senate campaign and Sessions’ hopes to reclaim his seat. Sessions may not have been the most effective U.S. Senator during his 20-year tenure, but he probably was the most honest. If it were midnight in the smallest town in Alabama and there were no cars in sight, Sessions would not jaywalk. 

  In every tweet, Trump endorses Tuberville over Sessions for obvious reasons. Historically, in Alabama politics, one politician endorsing someone in another race has been the kiss of death. It has consistently backfired. However, my guess is that Trump is so popular among hardcore Republican voters in the Heart of Dixie that this endorsement will propel Tuberville to victory. Tuberville’s campaign calling card has been, “I’m a Trump man.” Trump applauds total allegiance and loyalty. Therefore, the Trump endorsement of the coach is quite understandable.

  Whoever wins will take back the seat for the GOP in the fall. However, the winner is going to face some devastating financial problems when he arrives as a freshman U.S. Senator in January. The coronavirus epidemic has crippled our nation economically and its effects will likely be felt for decades. Either Tuberville or Sessions will be an irrelevant freshman senator who will be saddled with a government that is facing staggering national debt.

  The U.S. government has written $3 trillion in bad checks with no money in the bank to pay the debt back. We had an enormous deficit even before the trillions of dollars added by the printing of red ink federal dollars for the pandemic bailout. A trillion dollars is a lot of money. That is trillion with a capital “T.” It reminds me of one of the great quotes of all time. The late, great Republican, U.S. Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirkson, said after the passage of a pork-filled Democratic budget: “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you are talking real money.”

  Henry Kissinger in a “Wall Street Journal” article called this unprecedented, unimaginable U.S. national debt a fundamental realignment in which we are so weakened by this debt that we lose influence and power in the world. I am optimistic that we can persevere for three reasons: our farming, our military, and our technological superiority.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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