A View from Alabama

by Philip A. Watts

Philip A. Watts

Phil Watts learned some early life lessons as a paperboy on the Southside of Birmingham, where he grew up. His education continued at Auburn University, where he earned a mechanical engineering degree and made lifelong friends in his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Later he earned an MBA from Samford University and served in the U.S. Army.

Licensed as a professional engineer, he cofounded Control and Power, Inc., an industrial distribution business in 1959. He retired from that business in 2011. His interests over the years have included handball, bicycling, canoeing, snow skiing, and reading. He is a longtime member and Sunday School teacher at Southside Baptist, an all-inclusive church in Birmingham, where he still lives. He is married and has three children and two grandchildren.

Phil wrote for business purposes throughout his career, along with occasional personal pieces. He became more serious about his writing after the infamous escalator ride at Trump Tower in 2015. His essays on life and politics circulated to his circle of friends for several years. Beginning in September 2019, they began to appear as regular features on The Op-Ed Page at

His latest column

Senate Race Alabama Threesome

The race for the U.S. Senate from Alabama reveals a lot about Alabama politics. On the Republican side, we have Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville headed for a March 31 runoff election. On the Democrat side, we have incumbent democratic Senator Doug Jones.

Jeff Sessions held the seat until he was appointed Attorney General by Donald Trump as a reward for Sessions’s early endorsement of Trump’s Presidential candidacy. Sessions soon fell out of favor with Trump because he responsibly recused himself from the Mueller investigation over a serious conflict of interest. Trump never forgave Sessions and thereafter heaped insult after insult on him, “Dumb Southerner,” “Mr. Magoo,” and “Worst mistake I made”, until it was politically expedient to fire him after the 2018 elections. Sessions, apparently having no sense of dignity or pride, is now trying to win the Republican nomination by touting his undying love for Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, undaunted, continues to rain insults on Sessions, calling him a “Total Disgrace” and “An Embarrassment”, while Sessions, like a chastened dog, crawls on his belly towards his master, begging for a pat on the head.

Retired football coach, Tommy Tuberville meanwhile proudly proclaims that his qualifications for the Senate seat are his complete lack of experience and his apparent firsthand knowledge that “God sent us Donald Trump”. Can you imagine having the gall to ask voters to select you to represent five million Alabamians because, among the three candidates, you have the least relevant experience for the job? To bolster his creds, Tuberville wants voters to believe he can communicate directly with God, a rare feat indeed. Tuberville should not waste this extraordinary gift in the U.S. Senate; the whole world desperately needs to know God’s thinking on a wide range of issues.

Meanwhile Doug Jones, the Democratic incumbent, a man with a long history of distinguished public service, serves Alabama’s interests in the U.S. Senate capably and with honor.

Republican voters will thus choose between a stomach crawling man who allows himself to be persistently degraded, as he continues to profess his undying allegiance to his abuser, and a self-proclaimed ignoramus who expects us to believe he communicates directly with God. In the November general election the winner from this pair of doozies will face off with the kind of man who, mothers everywhere, hope their sons will grow up to become.

Now, who do you think Alabamians will ultimately choose to represent their values in the Senate? If you made the obvious choice of Doug Jones, you’re an undying optimist. What was the phrase Donald Trump used to describe us? Oh yes – “Dumb Southerners.”

Philip A. Watts

See Phil’s past columns.