I’ve had some bad jobs. I’ve worked on farms where the hours were long, the days hot, and the chores dirty. I’ve stocked shelves and sold toys during the holidays, getting by on three hours of sleep a night to pay for college. I’ve pulled the overnight shift at a convenience store, waiting from sundown to sunrise for a murderous robber to drift my way.
But I’ve never had a job as bad as Jeff Sessions’.
Now, being attorney general of the United States is not inherently a horrible gig. In normal times, I imagine it is pretty sweet. But in these times under this president, I’d rather be beaten with a knotted rope.
Almost from the moment Sessions took the position, his boss — Donald Trump —has berated, belittled, and humiliated him. Speculation that Sessions is about to be fired has never gone below a low boil, and at times it bubbles furiously. The latest insult? When a Republican congressman noted on a morning news show that Trump could have chosen someone else for attorney general, the president jumped to tweet “I wish I did.”
So what has Sessions done to deserve the public pillory? He recused himself from the Russia investigation because his involvement with the Trump campaign could have posed a conflict of interest. That’s a problem because Trump wanted him in the middle of it; a loyalist who could and would (if the president had his way) stop the “witch hunt.” And failing to do so appears to be unforgiveable in the eyes of this president who so often equates his personal fate with that of the nation. “He made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country,” he complained when Sessions stepped aside. And he’s never stopped carping about it.
I can’t explain why Sessions stays put. Nor can I fathom why Trump doesn’t dump him. But I have a suspicion: Unable to get directly at the investigators and fearful of the consequences if he tries, Trump wants a whipping boy — and even though that is not the job Sessions accepted, it’s the one he’s got.