April 26, 2018
No wonder President Trump is frustrated. Heading into this week, the U.S. Senate had only confirmed 432 of his political appointees. (And you thought your HR department was slow!) To the White House's relief, that number climbed to 433 after an early afternoon vote that sent CIA Director Mike Pompeo to his new post as secretary of state.
For a man whose nomination almost didn't make it out of committee, Pompeo certainly enjoyed some surprising Democratic support. After a testy confirmation hearing filled with hardball questions, plenty of people wondered if Pompeo would be the first secretary of state to be voted down before his nomination ever hit the floor. While Democrats raked him over the coals for everything from marriage views to climate change, even Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seemed dead-set against Trump's pick. Fast-forward two weeks, and suddenly the president's choice is more popular than Rex Tillerson! By a 57-42 margin, every Republican and a healthy number of Democrats agreed: Mike Pompeo is ready for the job.
For Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Pompeo's confirmation should have been an embarrassing reminder that not every Democrat shares his extremist views on sexuality and public service. During the confirmation hearing, he desperately tried to persuade his colleagues that Pompeo wasn't fit to head up DOS because he shares the mainstream belief that marriage is between a man and woman. In an attack that bordered on harassment, Booker asked how he could lead the State Department with biblical convictions. "We have married gay couples at the CIA," Mike replied simply. "You should know... My respect for every individual, regardless of sexual orientation, is the same."
That may have made Mike unfit to serve in Cory Booker's government, but fortunately, not everyone in the party shares his intolerance. Five Democrats up for reelection in November thought better of endorsing Booker's religious test. Unlike the far-Left wing of the party, they understand that what voters care about isn't Pompeo's view on marriage, but his ability to protect American interests overseas. And after the Christian inquisition of Russell Vought, Democrats ought to know: this kind of religious prejudice doesn't appeal to the broader electorate.
Another senator who should have been stung by today's vote was Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who ranted on the Senate floor earlier this week about Pompeo working with peaceful Muslims like our friend Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. "Mike Pompeo was deeply intertwined with this network of anti-Muslim organizations," he claimed. "... I hope some of you will take a look at that details this network of organizations. They have fairly innocuous sounding names, like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy... but if you really take look at what they do, they preach intolerance."
First of all, who is Senator Murphy to judge what makes someone truly Muslim? Dr. Jasser, who heads up the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is a deeply religious man who happens to believe that Muslims should take a more active role fighting Islamic terrorists. His organization, like others on Murphy's list, is widely respected for speaking against the violence that so many in the Muslim community excuse.
Dr. Jasser was understandably upset by Murphy's characterization, which, he argued, was just another attempt to smear American Muslims leaders as somehow anti-Muslim.
It is a sad day in American discourse when a United States senator motivated by partisan extremism willfully slanders and maligns an American Islamic organization. Never mind that our AIFD happens to actually be dedicated to countering Islamist radicalization and leading efforts at reform in order to defend the homeland. The sad truth Senator Murphy ignores, is that had he actually read the work we have done with former Congressman Pompeo (R-Kans.), he would have learned that we, for example, joined the congressman in exposing the radical Islamist ideology of a radical imam, Sheikh Monzer Taleb, preaching in Congressman Pompeo's backyard in Wichita. To us, there is nothing more pro-Muslim. Unfortunately, Senator Murphy prefers to read from the scripture of American Islamist talking points handed to him and his staff.
He's right. Like other liberals, Murphy is just parroting the reckless talking points of groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not to mention, Zuhdi goes on, how dangerous this kind of allegation is. "Do we need to remind Senator Murphy, who obviously knows little to nothing about Islam, Muslims, or any of the dynamics within the American Muslim community, that declaring any group of organizations let alone American Muslims as being anti-Muslim is the equivalent of [calling us apostates or infidels]?"
Fortunately for America, these pathetic campaigns against a qualified man failed. We can celebrate the fact that after a year and a half, the president finally has a leader he can depend on at State. FRC has no doubt that as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo will make international religious freedom a foreign policy priority, an issue that's especially important given how religious liberty is so intricately connected to the security and prosperity of nations themselves. The State Department needs a strong and competent leader to bring it in line with the president's policies. In Mike, they have exactly that.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.