Posturing Democrats are mounting unprecedented resistance to Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's well-qualified nominee to be the next secretary of state. The reasons they're giving are as humorous as they are ludicrous.
Pompeo sailed to confirmation as CIA director last year—by Trump-era standards anyway. A respected legislator and veteran who finished at the top of his class at West Point, Pompeo won the support of 14 Democrats and an independent en route to a 66-32 confirmation.
Yet several Democrats have used the current confirmation process to prosecute Pompeo's conservative social views—he opposes same-sex marriage and abortion—and then use those well-known positions as reasons to oppose him.
Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) declared in a Facebook post he could not back Pompeo for secretary of state since he doesn't "love the people." Booker acknowledged in the same post Pompeo had assured him he would treat all those in the agency equally.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), a supporter of Pompeo for CIA director last year, wrote critically about his statements "about Muslims and the LGBT community" in explaining her opposition to his ascension at the State Department.
"I’m very concerned about Mike Pompeo’s statements about Muslims and the LGBT community. Following the Boston Marathon bombing, he falsely suggested Muslim-Americans were complicit in the attacks," she said in a statement. His opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage, she said, was not "the words of a diplomat."
The Wall Street Journal editorial board ruefully noted, "This has nothing to do with rallying allies to support a containment strategy for Iran, although it might relate to her Senate primary challenge from the left this year."
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) said in a statement she had "deep concerns" about Pompeo's past remarks about "the LGBTQ community, American Muslims and women's reproductive rights." Shaheen voted in favor of Pompeo to be CIA director in 2017, when he likely carried these same opinions.
I cannot support Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State. My statement: pic.twitter.com/F9U3tMDWGR
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) April 17, 2018
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) didn't vote on Pompeo's confirmation last year. He's a "no" vote this time around though, he told Morning Joe, because "he has devalued religious tolerance and women's reproductive rights and health care, not only in this country but around the world. I think he sets a poor example in terms of American values."
Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) was aghast that Pompeo shared the opinion of his boss on issues like withdrawing from the Paris climate accords.
Perhaps the silliest talking point emerging among Democrats opposed to Pompeo is he's against diplomacy, despite telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he wanted to fix the flawed Iran nuclear deal, fill senior vacancies at the State Department, and said, "War is always the last resort."
Yet Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), another Democrat who backed Pompeo last year, told Face The Nation he would vote down Pompeo because he appeared to "oppose diplomacy."
Blumenthal said Pompeo has shown a "disdain for diplomacy." Feinstein wrote, "I sense a certain disdain for diplomacy in Mike Pompeo."
In a bit of unfortunate timing for Democrats seeking to portray him as an insidious warmonger, Trump confirmed Wednesday Pompeo had just returned from the ultimate diplomatic mission: Direct nuclear talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
And even that was a reason for Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) to vote down Pompeo: Because the leader of the clandestine service kept this secret meeting a secret!
"I can tell you, even in his private conversations with me, he didn’t tell me about his visit to North Korea," Menendez complained at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Now I don’t expect diplomacy to be negotiated out in the open, but I do expect for someone who is the nominee to be secretary of state, when he speaks with the committee leadership, and when he was asked specific questions about North Korea, to share some insights about such a visit."
I, for one, would be distressed if the CIA director shot his mouth off to me about a top-secret meeting on a matter of such importance.
Secretary of state nominees have historically sailed through the Senate, because even opposing parties recognize duly elected administrations should have the right to execute their foreign policy. That's no longer the case.
Democrats say Pompeo is opposed to diplomacy, but they're the ones stymying diplomacy in these doomed and pitiful efforts.