Sam Smith – I woke up this morning wondering when was the last time anyone had named an attorney general as bad as Jeff Sessions. Thanks to Wikipedia, the best answers I could come up with were John Mitchell in the 1970s and William Watt Gregory a century ago. Even before the civil rights movement, presidents avoided AGs reflective of racism in the South. Since the Civil War, less than 20% of the AGs have come from the south these have tended to be different than what you might expect.
Today the language has changed, but if one has lived in that South one can still recognize when the code language and actions survive. People forget that Washington was once part of the South. As a child in DC I went to a segregated public elementary school. My parents built a house on a trash dump in Georgetown so they wouldn’t have to sign an ethnically restrictive covenant. When I returned to DC as a reporter after college, its schools had only been desegregated for six years and white cops were still allowed not to share their patrol cars with black officers. You live through a time like this and you learn that overt language tells only part of the story and often can be misleading.
The code language and action are clearly there with Jeff Sessions, putting a polite cover on a badly directed heart. If he is named Attorney General it will be one of the great retreats in modern American progress.