Trump’s Snub of Jeff Sessions Sends a Bad Message

What kind of message does it send when the president, five months before his reelection contest, throws the first senator ever to endorse his presidency under the bus?

For supporters of Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s decision to snub his former attorney general and endorse a goofy RINO football coach instead is more evidence that the America First agenda that won him the White House, and that Sessions pioneered, has become an afterthought for his administration.

The president rages at Sessions for his recusal from the Russia probe. But here’s a thought experiment: what are the odds that Tommy Tuberville would have distinguished himself as some maverick against the Russia hoax had he been in the Senate? Any takers?

To ask the question is to answer it. It’s because the Republican Party is so unprincipled and unimpressive that Sessions (and Trump) stood out in the first place. Sessions is a decent man, and his patriotic convictions carried him, with justice, to a place of prominence in American history.

Trump, a man of instinct, interprets Sessions’ recusal as a sign of weakness, ignoring his loyalty to the president before, during, and after his White House tenure and his vigorous efforts to pursue the president’s America First agenda as attorney general.

Still America First?

The president, if it wasn’t obvious by now, is not some Leninist ideologue who was planning to methodically deport millions of illegal immigrants. This comes as a disappointment to some of his most ideologically driven supporters as well as to his most delusional detractors.

Sure, the president doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) adhere rigidly to doctrine, but Trump’s personal feud with Sessions is disappointing and counterproductive. While not by itself dispositive, it is part of a familiar pattern of setbacks for some of the strongest advocates of the “America First” message, who have started to weary of his inconsistent attention to the Greatness Agenda.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has been granted a public mandate by a clear majority of Americans to effectively shut down all immigration into the United States. Outside the predictable partisan noises from liberal media and activist groups, it would be a hugely popular decision. Of course, voters have wanted to reduce immigration for many years. They would reward Trump for it without a doubt.

But the president’s much-hyped immigration “moratorium” followed a familiar playbook: after the excitement of the news died down, it was apparent that Trump left a massive exception for hundreds of thousands of guest workers, hardly a logical decision in the middle of the worst economic crisis in decades, and unfair to college graduates entering a brutal job market.

There are now murmurs that the president will enact a second order this week to expand the ban. But Jared Kushner wants to keep immigration flowing. He has also been given a say in “overhauling” the Republican party platform, for some reason.

The Trump base has been inured to these reversals. While Kushner is often seen as the culprit, the lack of focus in the president’s governance cannot be overlooked.

It came as a shock when Trump, in a recent tweet, complained that Big Tech is controlled by the “radical Left” and that he would do something about censorship of conservatives. Just by acknowledging the problem, the president thrilled beleaguered members of his base who have been fighting to stay online, with little support, over the last four years.

The president doesn’t have much to gain by liberalizing the MAGA movement, but in the wake of Biden’s “you ain’t black” moment, the president has sought to highlight his efforts to reform the criminal justice system, something that his supporters never voted for in 2016.

Why not, instead of desperately trying to expand the coalition, focus instead on retaining the core voters who got Trump elected in the first place?

What’s Next?

We could be living through the final months of the Trump presidency. Victory is by no means assured in November, and it’s anybody’s guess what will become of the MAGA movement if Trump loses to Joe Biden. The Left will seek revenge without mercy.

Trump is a courageous man, and his ability to survive four years of daily, relentless counter-insurrection is admirable. The nationalist awakening that he inspired would never have been possible without him. He is an American original, and there is no doubt that he is the only choice for American patriots and conservatives in November.

That is what makes the president’s distractions so disappointing. Yes, it doesn’t help that Trump has had to contend with a vicious media, an obstructive permanent bureaucracy, and hoax after hoax for years on end. Neither has the weak, gelded Republican party been of much use.

But none of these excuses will make a difference in November, and they won’t matter years from now when posterity looks back on the Trump era. Will this time be remembered as an inflection point for a dying Republic, the moment America came roaring back, or a tragic disappointment?

There is now even talk that President Trump wants to end the war in Afghanistan before November—an aspiration of noble Trumpian proportions—and he appears to finally have taken serious notice of Twitter censorship (five months before the election!) It remains to be seen if these are momentary, or lasting, attentions.

The last four years have been great fun, but the president wasn’t elected to trigger the libs with memes or let criminals out of prison. He was elected to serve the American people and put America First.

The decisions Trump makes now will resonate loudly.

About Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a Mt. Vernon fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a staff writer and weekly columnist at the Conservative Institute. His writing has also appeared in the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter @matt_boose. ‏

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

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