It's on in Alabama -- again: Trump attacks Sessions' lack of "wisdom or courage" after runoff qualifier

All is decidedly not forgiven after all. Jeff Sessions finished a narrow second to former Auburn football head coach Tommy Tuberville, a somewhat surprising and disappointing result that nevertheless puts Sessions in a runoff for the US Senate nomination for his old seat. Until now, Sessions has positioned himself as the most MAGA-friendly candidate in the field, helped along in the primary by Donald Trump’s silence.

That didn’t last even twelve hours after the race was called in Alabama. First, Trump retweeted an Associated Press update this morning, and then followed up with a comment on a Politico tweet about Sessions falling short. Sessions’ former boss didn’t mince any words, either:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1235181043881299969

Can we call this an endorsement of Tuberville? By Jove, I think we can. It’s a binary choice, after all, and if Trump attacks Sessions, it’s at least a tacit endorsement of the alternative.

Trump had studiously avoided issuing any comment on the candidates during the primary phase, which seemed out of character for the president. The assumption was that Trump might have been doing a solid for Sessions’ pals in the Senate, who urged him to return to the upper chamber. Now that Sessions was out of his Cabinet, and taking pains to remain as MAGA as ever, people assumed Trump probably didn’t care too much about the outcome.

As Trump himself would say … wrong.

So why wait this long to undercut Sessions? Why not demolish him in the primary rather than the run-off? Perhaps that had more to do with another Republican on the same ballot — Roy Moore, who embarrassed Trump in the runoff election to fill the seat after Sessions left it to become AG. Despite all of the scandal uncovered by Democrats in the runoff that Doug Jones eventually won, Moore came back for another try, only to be held to less than eight percent of the vote. Or as our friend Stephen “RedSteeze” Miller put it in the Tweet of the Night late yesterday …

Ouch, baby, very ouch. Bradley Byrne might feel most unhappy about today’s tweet — well, after Sessions anyway — as this could have boosted him into the runoff instead. Trump probably didn’t want to take any chances that a Sessions collapse would create an opening for Moore; you can bet that Mitch McConnell didn’t want that either.

At any rate, one can imagine that Trump won’t leave this at just one tweet between now and the mid-April runoff. Sessions might have done better to run on a more complete break from Trump, embracing the MAGA agenda but arguing that Trump needs a leash that he best could provide in the Senate. He still would have likely lost, but at least he wouldn’t have been nearly as vulnerable to the Tweeter in Chief’s vindictiveness. By trying to pretend that all was well, Sessions set himself up to look like a fool — and set Tuberville up for an open lane to Washington DC.