At al.com, Kyle Whitmire makes a compelling case that the appointment of Luther Strange to the U.S Senate looks awfully fishy. It is well worth a close read, and thoughtful consideration. Citing an earlier column in which Whitmire warned against such an appointment, the columnist wrote that for Gov. Robert Bentley, it must be “tempting him to save himself by offering the guy investigating him for crimes a deal of a lifetime.” But, he said, he never really thought Bentley and Strange would be so brazen.
Now, he writes:
And then it all came true.
On Thursday morning, Bentley appointed Strange to the Senate. Next, he will get to pick Strange’s replacement as Alabama Attorney General. And you can bet that whoever he chooses will have strong opinions about special investigations in Montgomery politics.
Again, please do read the whole piece.
Let me say this: I do not think Strange tends in general to corruption. We will never know if this was a corrupt bargain, either directly or tacitly. But we do know this: It reeks so badly and looks so blatantly like corruption that the national media is having fun yet again making Alabama look like a backwards laughingstock. Worse, the appearance is so bad that Alabamans now have yet one more reason to lose faith in our government and our system of justice.
Sometimes it’s not fair to judge things on appearances alone; the appearance of wrongdoing is not necessarily the same as actual wrongdoing, and sometimes the appearances were unavoidable or not anticipate-able, and thus innocent. Alas, this is not one of those times. This is a case where the appearance itself does damage to the political order whether or not the appearance is fair. Everybody knows the situation involving the possible “investigation” by Strange of Bentley; everybody could anticipate that the questions of an underhanded deal would arise.
Strange, who might make a fine senator, should have just run for the seat in 2018 — but should have said from the start that he would not accept an appointment under these circumstances. He could make a strong case, in the campaign, for why he could best serve the people of Alabama. Now, though, he enters office under a cloud.
The governor’s 21-person interview list contained some really good names. It should have contained one less name, though: Strange should not have been on it. — Quin
An only semi-related late addendum: Speaking of the Senate seat, see one last look back at the fight that resulted in the welcome confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. It quotes me defending Sessions once again. But that’s not why you should read it; read it, instead, for the laments from some wise observers about the hyper-partisan state of our politics, and the dangers inherent in them. Read here. (Credit to the excellent John Sharp at al.com.)