There are approximately one hundred and sixty Trump Administration appointments awaiting the pleasure of the United State Senate for hearings and confirmation.
Among these are names for a couple of dozen Federal judges, fifty or so assistant sub-undersecretaryships (not a real thing, but you get the idea), and ambassadors to such places as Haiti, the Bahamas, Croatia, Zambia, Lichtenstein, India, and Germany. (I find it somewhat disturbing that we lack an ambassador to India, particularly given that they’re a nuclear power with a history of friction with their neighbors. Quite unlike Germany, of course…) Most of these will fly through with minimal debate, which is as it should be; many are relatively innocuous, while some can be objected to solely on ideological grounds.
But there are a few that should make us all sit up and take notice, and one in particular that will make a really big stink. That last is Sam Clovis, and he’s about to either get in the headlines or sink without trace.
Clovis is an ultra-conservative policy wonk with a background in economics and public policy, and he’s been nominated to a top post at the Department of Agriculture — a position almost always reserved for scientists. He’s a party hack but a quasi-competent administrator, so normally he’d be expected to fly through nomination without any real trouble.
In this instance, however, it’s an open secret around D.C. that he’s one of several voluntarily cooperating witnesses in the Mueller investigation of the ‘Russian Connection’. And yet, the Senate has put his nomination on the schedule for confirmation, tentatively on the 9th of November. And Trump hasn’t withdrawn his name, which at this point seems downright odd.
Think about this: He’s an unqualified party hack, so he’s not going to get any support from Democrats. By being a witness, he’s shown personal disloyalty to the President, and from past performance we can be pretty sure that means he’s lost any support from the Oval. And right now there’s an awful lot of Senate Republicans eager to win points with their voters by breaking ranks with the Administration.
So does that mean they’ll confirm in order to embarrass Trump, oppose for the same reason, or that Senate leadership will quietly let him fall off the calendar? They can do this; they’ve done it before. The answer to this question is of real importance, because it indicates just how much genuine support the Administration actually enjoys in the Senate.
There are other names that are potentially disturbing, as follows — and bear in mind that this is only a partial list:
- Rep. Jim Bridenstine for head of NASA: Neither a scientist nor an engineer, Bridenstine is profoundly unqualified — so much so that both Florida Senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, have gone on record opposing him.
- Gov. Brownback of Kansas, to be Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom: If you’re unfamiliar with Sam Brownback, you can think of this as somewhat on par with WHO appointing Robert Mugabe as their goodwill ambassador. His voting record is in favor of religious freedom only as long as it’s his brand of religion. I won’t go so far as to say he’s a bad man, but he’s so narrow-minded you could use his brain for a screwdriver.
- David Ross, to be assistant administrator of the EPA: This guy’s the state attorney for Wisconsin who won an injunction against the EPA in the Waters of the United States case. The only winners if he gets in will be sellers of bottled drinking water, and even then only for a very short time. This man gives soulless lawyers a bad name.
I’ve advised you before to pick your battles, the theory being that perpetual and unconsidered opposition will only wear you out while giving you a reputation for being unreasonable. Well, here’s three battles that, I think you’ll agree, are well worth fighting.
(I leave the decision on Sam Clovis up to you. Me, I’m giving in to morbid curiosity.)
How To Contact Your Senator (U.S. Senate official website)