Home/Daniel Larison/Pompeo Isn’t Qualified and Shouldn’t Be Confirmed

Pompeo Isn’t Qualified and Shouldn’t Be Confirmed

Mike Pompeo and Rex Tillerson. (Gage Skidmore/Office of the President)

Kelly Jane Torrance thinks that this is not the time to vote down Pompeo’s nomination:

With a likely meeting between Trump and Kim just weeks away, America still doesn’t have an ambassador to South Korea. It doesn’t even have a nominee for ambassador to South Korea. The State Department and American diplomatic policy generally are in crucial need of immediate leadership. The president has the prerogative to choose his top diplomat, and senators haven’t put forward any real reasons not to consent to Trump’s choice. The upper chamber shouldn’t fiddle while hotspots across the world could soon burn.

Torrance is correct that the U.S. doesn’t have an ambassador to South Korea or even a nominee. The White House is to blame for that lapse after they withdrew Victor Cha’s nomination earlier this year. The State Department is in such a parlous state because of the bad choice the president made for Secretary of State last year. Deferring to Trump’s choice for running the State Department is what created or contributed to many of the problems that Torrance describes. It would be a serious mistake to use those problems as an excuse to confirm an unqualified hard-liner to be our chief diplomat.

It’s not true that senators “haven’t put forward any real reasons” to reject Pompeo. They have objected to his preference for resorting to force, his disdain for diplomacy, his hostility to the nuclear deal, his bias against Muslims, and his past record of supporting disastrous wars and torture. Those are just some of the reasons so many senators are opposed to Pompeo. Those sound like real reasons to me.

The debate over Pompeo isn’t over, but I have to acknowledge that he just secured one Democratic vote this week. North Dakota Sen. Heitkamp announced that she will vote to confirm him. She was probably the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent up for re-election this year, so if anyone was going to support Trump’s nominee it was probably going to be Heitkamp. Arizona Republican Jeff Flake has not yet announced his position, so it possible that he could still end up voting against the nomination. If Flake needs a reason to vote against Pompeo, he should remember that Pompeo was a vocal critic of normalization with Cuba that Flake strongly supported.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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