Kyle Whitmore of AL.com writes that the appointment of Strange, which gives Bentley the authority to name his successor as Attorney General of Alabama, is a new low for his state:
Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General … I mean … Senator Strange made me feel sorry for Don Siegelman, and until this morning I didn’t think that was possible. Now, though, I just feel pity. Imagine, what it must feel like to step from prison a free man again, to see something like this, the most politically corrupt act in Alabama politics in my lifetime, if not his: The appointment of Luther Strange to the United States Senate.
To emerge from that prison, having spent years behind bars, much of it in solitary, only to see the current governor and attorney general acting like this — that’s the cruelest punishment I can imagine.
I first wrote about the possibility of a deal like this in November, when it became clear that Jeff Sessions would be climbing the ladder to join the Trump administration. The column was a joke: Robert Bentley having his Rod Blagojevich moment, with the ghost of Blago’s ego whispering bad ideas into Bentley’s ear, tempting him to save himself by offering the guy investigating him for crimes a deal of a lifetime.
I’m not trying to get credit for saying “I told you so” because at the time I didn’t really believe what I was writing, myself. In part I was trying to send a message: Don’t you even think about it. It was a flight of fancy, a worst-case-scenario, a sick little fantasy of what it might be like to be inside the mind of a lonely, desperate man trying to save himself. I wrote it because it was fun.
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.
Already we’ve seen Bentley appoint Stan Stabler to lead the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, only for Stabler to next cook up a half-baked report accusing his predecessor, Spencer Collier, of wrongdoings. Those accusations were rejected by a grand jury and Collier was all but exonerated.
It’s so nakedly political that someone should charge them with indecent exposure. But who? Not the state authorities. The feds? Don’t bet on Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions riding to the rescue.
Nope. This, Alabama, is the government we elected, and it’s the government we’re stuck with.
I’m not here to say “I told you so” because I was wrong. This was Bentley’s Blagojevich moment, alright, but there is one big difference.
Bentley might just get away with it.