Saturday, February 5, 2011

None Dare Call It Treason

No, I have not gone over to the cause of one of the all-time loopiest books ever written, which includes claims that Eisenhower was a Communist sympathizer, not to mention Kennedy and Johnson.

But the title of John Stormer’s book naturally leapt to mind when someone shared a bit of news this week that emerged from the always-interesting pen of Bob Martin at The Montgomery Independent. The lead item in Martin’s column was itself conspicuously absent from the pages of the state’s “mainstream media,” and will probably remain so until they can’t ignore it any longer. Martin cites a source who told him that outgoing Governor “Bingo Bob” Riley offered incoming Attorney General Luther Strange $2,000,000 in campaign financing for a 2014 GOP gubernatorial primary challenge against Governor Robert Bentley. Strange’s end of the quid pro quo would be to “protect” Riley’s two children (and from what would they need protection from the state’s lead prosecutor, pray tell?), and to divert state legal work to them when possible.

Unfortunately, that story wasn’t the shocker. Anyone with two brain cells and access to a media outlet not controlled by Si Newhouse knows what a crook Bob Riley is. The real alarm bells sounded as I read the second half of Martin’s column. In that, he revealed a plausible explanation for certain conduct of the Obama administration.

In other posts, I have taken the Obama administration to task for what I, perhaps with too much naïveté, presumed was inattention on Obama’s part to the continuing partisan reign of terror of Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney Leura Canary in the Middle District of Alabama. Martin cites a source who provides a far more troubling explanation. According to Martin’s source, Obama cut a deal with Senator Jeff Sessions, under which Sessions would not actively oppose Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, in exchange for which Obama would not remove Canary from her perch - a position from which she has masterminded the ethically-riddled persecution of Democrats from Don Siegelman to the bingo defendants.


Yes, if Martin’s source is right, Obama wasn’t asleep at the switch. He and his politically inept White House actually knowingly cut a deal with one of the most rancid members of the United States Senate, and Obama’s part of the deal was to throw the Alabama Democratic Party under the bus. Obama cut this deal at a time when the Democratic Party had a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate; Sessions should have been an ignorable, if odious, afterthought. This deal is just more proof of the political ineptitude of Obama and his Camelot-manqué staff.

Let’s put Obama’s action in perspective. Momentarily leaving aside the burning question of justice for Don Siegelman, leaving Canary at her post had the near-certain effect of further GOP politically motivated prosecutions in Alabama. Prosecutions that directly resulted in Republican political gains last November. Sessions knew that, and so did Obama. As a proximate and foreseeable result of Obama’s action, we not only have a Republican governor, we have a Republican legislature. As a proximate and foreseeable result of Obama’s action, African-American chairs of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee and the Senate Education Finance Committee lost their positions to white Republicans. As a proximate and foreseeable result of Obama’s action, the national Party lost seats in the Second and Fifth Congressional Districts that were won by Democrats in 2008.

If Obama, who seems to know no fight from which he will not run, was determined to make a deal with Sessions, there were better ways to do it. Build the Air Force tanker in Mobile (oh, wait, the competitor for that is Boeing, based in Obama’s Chicago). Find some policy issue on which to throw him a bone, just don’t sell out the Democratic Party in an entire state.

John Stormer borrowed his book title from a line by Sir John Harington, one of the more interesting figures of the infinitely interesting Elizabethan era. A soldier, courtier, poet, and essayist, he also gained fame by being the inventor of the modern flush toilet (hence the term, “john”). Harington’s epigram has the ring of truth:

“Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

Perhaps. Even in the case of George W. Bush, many supposedly progressive Democratic voices in Washington flinched from the use of words like “idiot;” a word I would require considerable self-restraint not to use to Obama’s face after Martin’s revelation. Obama’s infantile political crew settled on Charlotte as the site for the 2012 Democratic Convention - the only contender with no unionized hotel staffs in the city - and organized labor is described as “fuming.” He appears more likely than ever to have some opposition in the 2012 primaries. He doesn’t need any embarrassing headlines, and we have something in Alabama called the “Radney Rule.” I’m just sayin’, Mr. President.

Postlude: For those of you who live in the Scottsboros, Andalusias, and Tuscumbias of the state, write the editor or publisher of your local paper, and suggest they contact The Montgomery Independent and start carrying Bob Martin’s column and other items. Yes, they frequently bust Democratic chops, when deserved. But when the deserving always get a chop-busting, Democrats win in the long run.


  1. If we have a REAL "Radney Rule" in Alabama, why was charlie grimsley on the ballot as a democrat?

  2. If Martin's sources are correct, there were mutual obligations, one of which was Sessions' promise not to oppose Obama's SCt nominees. He is 0 for 2, opposing both Sotomayor and Kagan. Breach, then, and Ms. Canary is being replaced. Why was the deal at all attractive to Obama, who had an ersatz 60 vote majority? Still, with the strongest overall congressional majority in recent history, he has led from a position of weakness on every substantive initiative. This goes WAY past naïveté. Or, as his detractors asked, pre-election, how exactly does someone go from the Illinois state senate to the White House in four years? Maybe that's the question, after all.

  3. There is “opposing,” and there is “opposing!!” Realistically, Sessions was never going to vote for either Sotomayor or Kagan, and he was going to make snarky comments about both for consumption on Fox and the local news in Alabama. Aside from that, Sessions never organized the kind of scorched-earth opposition that derailed the nominations of Farnsworth and Bork, and almost stopped Clarence Thomas. In historical perspective, his opposition was more mayonnaise than jalapeño sauce. Remember, everyone has by now figured out Obama’s proclivity for folding. Just how serious would the opposition have to have been, to derail either nomination?

    As to Anonymous’s question about Grimsley, all I can say is that I am not a member of the SDEC. On the basis of things I was told by Democrats whose judgment and credibility I trust, I voted for the other guy in the primary.

  4. “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
    Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”