Well, it didn’t take long, did it? Alabama’s freshly minted junior U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville has been on the job less than a month and he’s already turtled up behind his press secretary attempting to wait out a scandal that is a scandal primarily because he won’t talk about it.
There’s a strong chance you haven’t paid much attention to this because there are things like the impeachment of an ex-president, COVID and the untimely death of “Saved by the Bell’s” Screech that took up more room in your brain this week. Or maybe you’re out there on Robinhood trying to catch a “stonk” and ride to the moon with diamond hands. (If you have no idea what that means, you need to spend more time getting investment advice on Reddit.)
Regardless, this burgeoning scandal is a very high priority for some members of the statewide and national media who weren’t necessarily excited by Tuberville defeating Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, or former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, for that matter. But for most, it probably hasn’t broken through the static.
As we relive the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol over and over daily in a “Groundhog Day”-like fashion, there’s an effort to assign not only blame for the actions of the insurrectionists who killed a police officer, harmed others and destroyed property, but to determine if it was a pre-planned effort to upend the election of Joe Biden. While we certainly should determine whether any kind of plan for this mayhem existed versus it being a more “organic” revolution, that doesn’t automatically mean every Trump supporter in D.C. that day was looking for a rope, a tall tree and Nancy Pelosi.
So I’ll say up front that there’s a level of hysteria about Tuberville allegedly meeting with Donald Trump Jan. 5 that may be undeserved. There are some who appear to be trying to jump to the conclusion Tubby pulled out one of his old playbooks and drew up a jet sweep for protesters to use while rushing into the Capitol. But there’s no evidence anything like that happened — at least not yet. And hopefully, there will never be, because I’d hate to think any elected official from Alabama would engage in the planning of such a thing. At this point, though, discussion of anyone actually planning an insurrection remains unsubstantiated guesswork.
Still, Tuberville does have an issue here.
In a Facebook post from the night of Jan. 5, Trump appointee Charles W. Herbster listed Tuberville among a group of “patriots” meeting with the president at Trump International Hotel as part of the “battle for justice and truth” regarding what he viewed as the fraudulent presidential election. Why Herbster would have a reason to lie about Tuberville being there, I have no idea, but through his spokesperson, Tubby has denied being there.
But a photo of Tuberville purported to have been taken in the lobby of Trump International on Jan. 5, posing with a couple, makes that denial a little trickier. What makes it a total Triple Lindy is that Daniel Beck, CEO of an Idaho-based technology company, also posted on Facebook about a meeting in the hotel in which Tuberville and others “talked about the elections, illegal votes, court cases, the republics’ status, what to expect on the hill tomorrow. TRUMP WILL RETAIN THE PRESIDENCY!!!”
So just by way of keeping things straight, there are two separate Facebook posts saying Tuberville was there, AND a photo saying showing him there, but Tubby says he wasn’t there. Obviously, there’s a disconnect.
If Tuberville was there meeting with Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Junior Trumps, Michael Flynn and other assorted presidential insiders, but is saying he wasn’t, that would make him a liar. And even in the rarified air of political dishonesty breathed in and out second to second by everyone in D.C., it would be pretty stunning to get trapped in such a baldfaced lie before they’ve even had time to paint Tuberville’s name on his office door.
I’m not saying Tubby lied, I’m just saying IF he did, it would be a horrific start to his time in office.
Maybe there’s a reasonable explanation for the photo and FB posts that place him there. Perhaps Trump was watching “The Blind Side” and Tuberville’s cameo in the movie was so believable it caused others to think he was actually there in the room. Maybe the photo of him in the lobby is a “deep fake” payback put together by the computer science department geeks at one of the schools he bailed on after promising he wouldn’t.
But if there are reasonable explanations for people writing that he was there and posting a photo showing him there, why doesn’t Tuberville just tell us what those reasons are?
The senator made allegiance to Trump the centerpiece of his campaign, so it’s highly doubtful his constituents would be upset to hear about him hobnobbing with DJT, even the night before all hell broke loose. I get that there’s an attempt by some to allege a scenario in which the group present at the hotel that night essentially planned out the following day’s storming of the Capitol. Anything is possible, I suppose, but it does seem far-fetched to think you’d plan an insurrection with the My Pillow guy and a couple of Facebooking hangers-on in the room. “Everybody remember, no mentioning the insurrection when you make your social media posts about this meeting!”
Tuberville’s non-response response to all of this simply adds fuel to the fire for those who do think an evil plan was hatched there that night. He could easily have put it out by simply saying where he was that evening, one way or the other. But now that he’s denied it, despite what appears to be evidence to the contrary, well, the new senator might be in a bit of a jam.
I thought Tuberville was going to win the election from the minute he got in the race, even against Jeff Sessions. Why? Because I think he can connect with people. I’ve seen him speak a couple of times. And, for example, I watched him work from table to table in a crowded Moe’s BBQ last Mardi Gras, then listened to people in the crowd buzz about having met him an hour later. He came off as accessible and connected.
But as the race went on, Tommy started ducking more and more behind his press people. He had the lead, why debate, why answer questions? Talk only to partisan media like Yellowhammer News. It’s page one of the Kay Ivey playbook, and it worked. He won.
Now that the campaign is over, though, it’s time to work for the people. And sometimes, even for a U.S. senator, that means answering questions you don’t want to answer. At this point, there’s a legitimate question about whether Tuberville was there or not, and that’s not because having been at the hotel means he was planning to overthrow the government. It matters now because we need to know if his first instinct is to lie.
It’s pretty easy, Senator. If you weren’t there Jan. 5, where were you?
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