Yesterday, I wrote that U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is remarkably good at sensing how an issue is playing, and putting himself on the right side. The latest of many examples came this week, when Kennedy was one of the first Republicans to reject EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's claim that vague security concerns entitled him to first class travel at taxpayer expense.
Today, I'm adding a caveat: Except when he's not.
During a hearing in the Judiciary Committee Thursday, Kennedy not only voted against a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill sponsored by fellow Republican Charles Grassley. He also took the opportunity to make several cynically misleading claims about a similar state effort, which was also bipartisan but was backed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, whom Kennedy may challenge next year.
Kennedy claimed Edwards pushed the laws without consulting Louisiana's sheriffs and district attorneys, even though there were prolonged negotiations with district attorneys and no governor has been closer to sheriffs than Edwards. For the record, both prosecutors and sheriffs were represented on the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force, the group that drafted the bills.
He also argued that the laws are an "unqualified disaster," which was clearly meant as one of his signature glib sound bites. But the laws are just starting to take effect. Kennedy has no idea if the reforms will work as intended in the long run. Nobody does.
Kennedy then followed up on the Senate's failure to pass any of several immigration bills that sought to address the uncertain status of so-called Dreamers — who have broad public sympathy, according to polls — with a stunningly dismissive declaration that he's "ready to move on."
And what of the hundreds of thousands of people, brought here as children, who now face possible deportation because President Donald Trump revoked protections instituted by his predecessor, Barack Obama? I bet they're ready to move on too, if only Kennedy and the rest of Congress would do their jobs, settle their status and let them.