Imagine that Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank were profiling a Democrat who was as steadfastly liberal as Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is conservative. The column virtually writes itself. We can imagine the liberal described as "putting principle above expediency", "courageous," perhaps even "speaking truth to power."
But when it comes to a conservative such as Sessions, that same adherence to principle is cast in the most negative light. Consider these excerpts from Milbank's column of today, Forget Politics. This Battle Is Personal. which focuses on Sessions' stand on immigration:
- "Jeff Sessions sure knows how to nurse a grudge."
- "Now he is turning his prodigious anger on legislation."
- "A stream of epithets about the legislation flowed from his mouth."
- "He argues his points not with the courtly Southern tones of the late senator Howell Heflin (D), his predecessor, but with the harsh twang of a country tough -- which, in a sense, he is."
- "Sessions has joined the immigration debate with typical ferocity, impugning the motives of those who disagree with him."
- "The senator's words can sound a bit harsh."
Milbank closed with this parting shot: "'I'm beyond politics,' [Sessions] said yesterday. His opponents would readily agree."
The same surely cannot be said of Milbank.