Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Just for the record

For no other reason than I wanted to post this somewhere, this is the text of a letter I sent to one of my senators, Elizabeth Warren, following her vote in committee to approve the nomination of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I know it is from a couple of weeks ago, but I still wanted to post it.

January 27, 2017
This is a letter I never thought I would have to write.

I have read in full your defense of your vote to confirm Ben Carson. I am deeply disappointed in your vote and find your defense utterly unconvincing.

You say you have "serious, deep, profound concerns" about his total lack of relevant experience, a lack so great that he himself shared your concern in November. You reject the "outrageous things" he said on the campaign trail.

And then you vote to confirm him.

Why? Because, you say, "'the nominee I wanted' is not the test." That is evasive nonsense. The test is "Do I want this person to be in charge of this department?" And that is a test you utterly failed, because by voting "Yes" you answered that question "Yes."

Oh, but you say, you got him to make "written promises" and if he breaks them you "won't hesitate" to criticize him. And then what? What enforcement mechanisms do you imagine you will have? And what is it about voting "No" on his nomination that would have prevented you from making such criticisms?

But the worst of this is the excuse (and there is nothing better to call it) that, in effect, if you didn't agree to this one, the next one could be worse. ("If President Trump goes to his second choice, I don't think we will get another HUD nominee who will even make these promises – much less follow through on them.")

That is a stark example of what I have come to call preemptive capitulation, of giving up before the fight even starts. And no, for you the hearings were not the fight: The fight starts when a choice has to be made. And when it came time to make that choice, you simply folded.

I am embarrassed for you. I can only hope you will redeem yourself as events proceed.

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