Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Feinstein Votes With Republicans to Confirm Rice

To nobody’s surprise, the full Senate confirmed, by an 85-13 vote, the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State today. It is no surprise either, that California’s senior Senator voted to confirm. When Rice’s nomination was introduced last week, Feinstein was effusive in her praise of the National Security Advisor, lauding Rice’s “qualifications” and “achievements.”

This is hardly a departure from Feinstein's record in the Senate. Among her greatest hits, she voted for the “Patriot Act”, to confirm John Negroponte as the ambassador to Iraq, despite his record of involvement in gross human rights violations in Central America during the Reagan administration, to confirm the nomination of Porter Goss as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, despite Goss’s demonstrated partisanship and indifference to actually overseeing the nation’s security and intelligence agencies while on the house intelligence committee.

(To her credit, she has consistently voted against cloture on the nominations of Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown

Feinstein is by no means alone among Democrats in her votes on these issues. On some, Senator Boxer voted with her. I have been waiting, for too many years now, though, for Feinstein to demonstrate what principals of liberty, adherence to law, and respect for the five billion non-Americans we share this planet with she has. I’m still waiting. On these nomination votes in particular, it may be that Feinstein believes all these people were qualified for these positions or it may simply be that she subscribes to the philosophy that the President gets to choose who will serve him and the Senate ought to confirm those selections. I happen to reject both excuses. In the cases of Rice and Negroponte in particular she voted to confirm people who have repeatedly demonstrated that they will betray the truth and violate the law to serve their president and his goals, no matter how ignoble the man and those goals may be. Considering our nation’s current problems of image and security (which are by no means independent of each other), her votes for these people are unconscionable. Negroponte will forever be linked, and properly so, to one of our country’s more sordid periods of Latin American relations, which saw us propping up corrupt and murderous regimes in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and lending illegal support to the Contras in Nicaragua. Rice’s dishonesty and incompetence were lent to the Bush Administration’s selling to Congress and the American people the belief that Iraq posed a dire threat to US security. Neither should be representing American interests. Feinstein thought otherwise. One wonders what it would take for her to vote against somebody’s confirmation. There are whispers that she intends to vote against Gonzalez, or at least to take a long look at him. If so, I’m curious as to how she would distinguish between his and Rice’s (dis)qualifications for the offices to which they were nominated.

It’s time for California Democrats to start sniffing around for a replacement for the useless Senator. I’m suspect I’m hardly alone in this view. So who do we have on deck?
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