Straight-talking senator knows his grits

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2012

All of you folks who like to harangue the “liberal editor,” go ahead and sit down.

I can’t help but like Sen. Jeff Sessions.

The Mobile Republican who represents Alabama in the U.S. Senate is about as conservative as they come. I believe government is best when there is a balance of liberals and conservatives who work together and govern somewhere in the middle.

But Sessions’ views are consistent, his talk is straight, and we agree about grits.

He was in Andalusia Wednesday afternoon. Only about 30 people showed up for his town hall meeting at city hall. The senator talked about runaway federal budgets, and squarely placed a good portion of the blame for that spending on the shoulders of Congress, unlike many of his GOP counterparts who forget that they vote to approve spending and just scream “Obama!”

The senator said he personally came under fire for proposals to cut food stamps, an expenditure that has grown from $20 billion in 2002 to more than $70 billion this year.

“There is language that says that if you qualify for any government program, you automatically qualify for food stamps,” he said. “We could save $10 million just by required proof of qualification, but that was voted down.

“It’s too easy to demagogue and say ‘Sessions doesn’t like poor people,’ ” he said.

$10 million isn’t a drop in the deficit bucket, but if we identified several line items like this one, pretty soon we’d start to make a dent in spending.

I’ve been to a lot of these kinds of meetings. I’ve never heard Sessions derisively dismiss anyone’s comments. If he disagrees, he will look you in the eye and tell you so. And I’ll take that over the “tree-frog” brand of politician who changes his answers to suit the audience any old day.

Now about the grits. Once, in another life, my husband said yes, we’d load up food in South Alabama, drive to Washington, D.C., and deliver Southern hospitality to 100 or so ex-patriots attending a fundraiser there. It was foolish and ambitious, but we pulled it off.

Our menu was long, but included softshell crab, shrimp po-boys, and smoked gouda cheese grits. I remember Sen. Sessions kept going back to the grits.

“When you get them up here, they aren’t salted,” he said. “They’re just not good if you don’t salt them while you’re cooking them.”

On that point, the state’s most conservative senator and I agree. How can you not like a man who’s that true to his Wilcox County roots?