Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Placating Bullies

Warning: this post is going to be a noisy and angry political rant. If you're tired of those this election season, come back tomorrow and I'll write about something else. I promise. Otherwise, read on.

I was enraged by this article I read a few days ago in the Washington Post: Ambassador Confirmed, the Backstory Emerges. Take a minute to read it, and then come back. I'll wait.

In brief, this is the story of how the new US Ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, was confirmed for her position 11 months after being nominated by President Obama. Her nomination had been blocked by two senators: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; the story is about what had to be promised to both of these "public servants" in order to get them to remove their objections to Ms Jacobson's nomination.

Spoiler: the objections had absolutely nothing to do with Ms Jacobson's qualifications for the position (she had been the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs) or with the importance of the ambassadorship to a country which is - like it or not - critically important to our domestic affairs. It had to do with political grandstanding, pure and simple.

Senator Rubio opposed Ms Jacobson's nomination because he objected to the Obama administration's policies on relations with Cuba. Senator Cruz did not oppose her nomination per se, but as a result of a hold he put on authorizations for the State Department because of his opposition to the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.

Here's what the odious horse trading looked like in the end:

Cruz got Rubio to support his effort to rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington in honor of Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Nobel Prize-winning Chinese dissident ... a move calculated to embarrass and anger the Chinese government. And by dropping his opposition to the State Department appropriations bill, Cruz agreed to support Rubio's push to require the State Department to produce 40 new reports a year on issues ranging from the autonomy of Hong Kong to religious freedom* and anti-Semitism, and to extend the authority of an existing bill requiring sanctions on Venezuelan government officials accused of human rights violations.

There are other things, but you can read the article yourself.

We Americans are irate when other nations try to meddle in our affairs ... and yet these two grandstanding Senators are perfectly happy to meddle in the affairs of other nations - regardless of their rationale. Senator Cruz wishes deliberately to poke a finger in the eye of China - a prickly nation at best and one with which, like it or not, we need to maintain a constructive relationship. Senator Rubio commits the State Department to invest limited time and resources to churning out reports that serve no purpose** other than to highlight his name and embarrass other nations with whom we need to maintain constructive relationships.

Is China acting like an odious bully in Southeast Asia? Of course it is. And, unfortunately, so have we in many regions over the years. Both we and the Chinese believe we have the moral and historical authority to behave as we do. Do we need to find ways to live with each other for the greater good? Of course we do. Do we have political and economic issues with other nations? Naturally. But will dozens of reports solve those problems? No.

I have nothing but contempt for grandstanding buffoons like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who place their political agendas above the good of the nation and who, in the particular case of Senator Cruz, delight in being the sand in the gears of good government. Or any government, given how things are going. We need adult leadership in Congress, and in this year - when so many Senate and House seats are in play - we owe it to ourselves and to the country to elect responsible leaders willing to work with each other to chart our path to an uncertain future.

Have a good day. Expect better. More thoughts tomorrow.


* In places other than the US, where many equate "religious freedom" to "observation of Christianity rather than other forms of religious belief."

** As a veteran of many years serving on the Air Staff at the Pentagon, I had experience with helping to churn out the dozens of reports Congress requires on various topics every year, most of which were driven by some political agenda or another and served no useful purpose for defense planning.


Duckbutt said...

They are buffoons indeed!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Ted Cruz acts like a dick sometimes.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Bilbo - I'm sorry to say that I have now eliminated all politics in my life. If on TV, switch the channel. Reading something online - move to another page. I have decided that I have been voting since I was old enough to vote. (18) Never missed an election and have tried to be a good citizen and be informed. But the information only makes me angry. The process makes me angry. The choices make me very angry. So do I not vote and let the bigots get their big buffoon? But then who do I vote for, someone who I can't trust? Or do I move to Canada, Australia or some other place without a Trump or Cruz? This is my last political comment unless it is about the correspondence dinner clothing and or something equally vapid and frivilous like that. see you after the election... drop mic.

Mike said...

So much for less government.

John Hill said...

It is unfortunate that all of government in the US has become caving to the will of the bullies. The rules of government were never meant to give so much power to one individual. The perversion that is our Congress of today (the one run by the so called Constitutionalists) is an embarrassment to our country.

Anemone said...

I wish Ted Cruz would just shut up!

allenwoodhaven said...

You rant very well.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

God help us if Ted Cruz becomes President!

John Hill said...

...And it is that very type of political grandstanding that has made a Trump nomination possible.
But voters will reelect every one of those incumbents!

John Hill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Bear said...

Our politics are all screwed up.