Home/Daniel Larison/The Senate Should Reject Pompeo

The Senate Should Reject Pompeo

Mike Pompeo, CIA director (Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

The opening of this Josh Rogin article on Pompeo’s confirmation hearing is very odd:

In a normal environment, CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s controversial record would mean a long and contentious Senate confirmation process. But the sheer urgency of the moment is pushing all sides to realize that the State Department needs a leader, and that Pompeo, though imperfect, needs to get started as soon as possible.

While the State Department needs a leader, it seems to me that the “urgency of the moment” would make senators even more reluctant to confirm an unqualified and dangerous nominee in haste. It is because there are so many serious conflicts and crises on the agenda that the Senate needs to make sure that the right person is running the department after the Tillerson debacle. Tillerson encountered more resistance than previous nominees for Secretary of State, and in retrospect his nomination should have been rejected. Pompeo is not actually any more qualified than Tillerson was, and his record makes him more objectionable, so why should the Senate be in any hurry to confirm him? Hastily confirming someone with contempt for diplomacy and a record of support for torture isn’t doing the State Department or U.S. interests any favors.

When presented with a nominee as poorly-suited to the job as Pompeo is, it makes sense to take more time than usual to review his record, consider his views, and assess his fitness for the office he has been selected to fill. The timing may not be great, but it is how the process is supposed to work. The Senate deferred to the president’s bad choice for Secretary of State once, and it was a serious mistake. They should be careful not to make the same mistake twice in two years. Just this week, it came to light that Pompeo failed to disclose a business connection with a firm owned by the Chinese government. He may have a reasonable explanation for this lapse, but this is exactly the sort of thing that needs to be reviewed during a confirmation hearing.

The U.S. has been lacking an effective Secretary of State for all intents and purposes for the better part of a year, so there should be no rush to confirm a nominee as unsuited to the job as Pompeo. Better still, the Senate should reject Pompeo as a protest against the president’s reckless and incompetent foreign policy.

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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