Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Brownback Goes Too Far

A Washington Post editorial today outlines an important example of out-and-out hypocrisy from Kansas Republican senator Sam Brownback, who is considering a run for the White House in 2008:

"While Republican senators insist on prompt votes for every judicial nominee, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has placed a "hold" on President Bush's nomination of Julie Finley as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Mrs. Finley is well qualified. Like many ambassadorial appointees, she has been a major Republican fundraiser, but she has also been a strong and active advocate in Washington for the expansion of NATO, the integration of Turkey into the European Union and the spread of democracy to countries of the former Soviet Union. These are issues that would be central in her new post -- and issues that Mr. Brownback also has highlighted. Nevertheless, Mr. Brownback, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, as of last night was employing a parliamentary maneuver to block any Senate vote - on the grounds that Mrs. Finley is pro-choice on abortion.

The move may please Republican anti abortion activists, who have launched a campaign against Mrs. Finley, demanding that the president withdraw her nomination. But the hold is repugnant, on both procedural and substantive grounds. If a filibuster is at best a controversial way of deciding policy, allowing a single senator to have effective say over whether to hold a vote on a particular presidential appointment would seem completely unacceptable.

More to the point, Mrs. Finley's opinions on abortion, whatever they may be, have nothing whatsoever to do with European security and democracy, peacekeeping in Chechnya, or the enforcement of arms control treaties, the main issues of concern to the OSCE. Mr. Brownback has in the past shared Mrs. Finley's enthusiasm for expanding NATO and promoting democracy in Eastern Europe. That he would slight those ideals and abandon a firm supporter of those causes bodes ill for his potential candidacy and for the next presidential election more generally."

The final paragraph of this is particularly applicable, and important. Just what on earth can Brownback's rationale be for opposing Finley's nomination to the OSCE based on her pro-choice views?

Over at RedState.org, diarist AaronVB gets it absolutely right. He disagrees with Brownback's procedural hold, even though he agrees with his opposition to the nomination, saying "Are we willing to defend that all of a President nominees should be voted on, even the ones with whom we disagree?" He adds "Clearly, Sen. Brownback is overreaching because he feels very strongly on the issue of abortion. There should certainly be no penalty for believing strongly in something, but there are times when everyone must realize they are fighting the wrong battle. That is what Sen. Brownback is doing here. We do not want to send the Republican party down the path of imposing an anti-abortion litmus test on every nominee."

I hope that voices like Aaron's (if not my own) can persuade Brownback to release this hold so that Ms. Finley's nomination can be confirmed. Regardless of your views on abortion, her post has nothing to do with that issue, and Brownback's actions are way out of line.


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