Even people who support the war on drugs should be able to see that Johnson got a pretty raw deal. But probably not Sessions, who as an Alabama senator called Barack Obama’s commutations for drug offenders “an alarming abuse of the pardon power” and “a thumb in the eye of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court and prison personnel who put time and resources into these cases.”

In Sessions’ view, letting a small-time crack dealer go free after 10 years rather than 20 “sends the message that the United States government is not serious about combating drug crimes.” Obama was “reckless” even when he commuted sentences that Congress had decided were too long, said Sessions, who accused the president of “playing a dangerous game to advance his political ideology.”

Sessions claims “so-called ‘low-level, non-violent’ offenders…simply do not exist in the federal system.” He arrives at that conclusion by ignoring the distinction between major and minor players in drug trafficking organizations and by insisting that distribution offenses are “inherently violent,” even when they do not involve any violence.