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If Democrats had not been so censorious and politically correct, then Jeff Sessions would be an obscure district court judge in the deep South. Instead, the Republican senator from Alabama will soon head President-elect Trump’s Department of Justice.

A Delaware senator named Joe Biden led eight Senate Judiciary Democrats against the Reagan administration’s nominee for the federal district bench in 1986.

Biden and Ted Kennedy fiercely opposed and blocked Sessions because of some off-color comments on race — particularly criticisms he had laid against the NAACP and an ill-considered joke he had told about how he had once thought the KKK was alright, until he learned some members of the racist group smoked marijuana.

Biden won that battle in the short run, but lost in the long run.

Sessions’ “racially insensitive statements” galvanized the opposition, the New York Times reported, and ultimately disqualified Sessions from the bench. He would later call the loss “heartbreaking.” But if he’s confirmed, history will describe it as irony.

“If I had let you be a judge,” Biden joked with Sessions in 2009, “I wouldn’t have to put up with you now.” If only he knew. That judicial failure set up a Senate career that moved along the 1990s GOP takeover of the South’s congressional delegations, and perhaps one of the most unprecedented presidential comebacks in modern history.

People take for granted Trump’s success in southern GOP primaries this spring, but Sessions played a critical role as one of the businessman’s earliest office-holding endorsers in the 2016 primary. He was a rare early sympathizer who actually took him seriously and the first senator to get behind his candidacy with a well-timed endorsement ahead of Super Tuesday.

His choice of Trump over Ted Cruz back in February helped make Trump’s Super Tuesday performance as dominant as it was, and could have represented a critical moment in the nomination process.

Although Sessions’ love affair with Trump’s brand of trade protectionism is relatively new, he’s railed against illegal immigration since 1996, stoking fear about crime waves and drugs flowing from the Mexican border. And when the New York businessman launched his campaign, he borrowed and amplified the rhetoric of the Alabama senator, as well as one of his top aides.

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Political correctness, which Biden had deployed to torpedo Sessions, was a good foil for Trump to campaign against at the ballot box this year. During Trump’s early campaign, plenty of supporters flocked to him because they believed he could destroy political correctness.

“Yeah he’s a jerk,” millions seemed to say in sync, “but damn if he doesn’t just speak his mind.” And now it really does seem that charges of racism and sexism far worse than anything Sessions had said long ago just don’t stick like they used to.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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