According to the Associated Press, pressure from fellow Senate Republicans might finally be getting to the very, very not-at-all distinguished Senator from Alabama – Tommy Tub-O-Lard. Aka Tuberville. Due to his opposition to a DOD policy that allows travel expenses for members of our military stationed in states with abortion restrictions to go where they can access those medical services Tuberville decided to place a hold on approval of promotions of top officers.
Last week a handful of Republicans held the Senate floor for four hours to lambast Tuberville and his blanket hold on promotions. Some of the criticism was quite pointed and even heated. It all led to an unusual meeting of Senate Republicans today after which there were signs Tuberville is maybe, possibly looking for a way out of the corner he’s painted himself into:
Tuberville said he would work with other senators on possible options, and “hopefully we can start moving forward.” That was a contrast to last week, when he said there was “zero chance” he would lift the holds, absent a change in policy. But it was still unclear how a resolution could happen.
I don’t want to get my hopes up but this is better than nothing. And long, LONG overdue. This crap has been going on for about nine months now and roughly 400 promotions have been held up. I should note there’s a ripple effect from this. Career officers who earned promotions to top level positions are stuck. That means people below them who were slated to move into their jobs are stuck. And so one down the line. All of this negatively affects National Security in both the short and long term. In the short term we have two wars going on in which U.S. troops aren’t fighting, but they DO provide crucial support like training, tactical/intelligence advice and logistical support for those who do. In the long term this WILL have an impact (and a negative one) on recruiting and also retention. What officer wants to spend a couple of decades working towards high level command to find their advancement stifled by some self-righteous, drunk with power Senator wanting to score political points (and donations) back home?
Tuberville who professes to be anti-abortion AND (like Trump) knows more about the military than the people who’ve spent their adult lives serving in it (Tommy’s dad was after all an enlisted dude back in WWII!) has had his heels dug in on this. I still say he should be asked how many abortions he facilitated back in his college football coach days. How often a player would come to him (or one of his assistants who’d bring the problem to him) with “Uh… Coach? I’ve got a problem. My girlfriend (or some one-night stand) is pregnant and I can’t be a dad” I’ll guarantee you COACH Tuberville had NO problem with helping arrange to “take care of the problem.”
But Tuberville has chosen what he thinks is a winning issue, despite all electoral evidence (since the Dobbs decision overturned Roe v Wade) to the contrary. I can just see him back home with the goobers who would never have voted for him had he not been a successful head coach at Auburn saying “In ole Alabamy we ain’t lettin them military wimmin get them no abortions” and the folks lapping that schtick up with a spoon. It makes me sick but it makes me something else. ANGRY! He has literally been screwing not only with the lives and careers of dedicated officers (and their families) but with National Security. Despite colleagues including damned near every Republican imploring him privately and often publicly to end his crusade he’s not only doubled down but tripled down. In fact, he’s now taken to tossing insults as this article from Raw Story which notes Tuberville compares himself as a football head coach to being in command of military forces! Coach Tommy says they should “delegate” more. WTF? Here’s an example of his drivel on the subject:
“You got a job,” he said. “You can only do so much, and you got to lean on the people underneath you. I coached for a long time – I think 15 or 20 coaches, I mean, you can only do so much. You got to give responsibility. I’m sure that’s what they’re doing.”
How often did Tuberville or his assistants have to train players for actual combat. Or to provide critical, timely support for those locked in battle. Or served in combat as so many of those officers who’s promotions are held up have done. How often has he had to decide what units will be deployed into harm’s way, as into a place where an enemy was waiting to kill them? I got new for you COACH – for all the talk from you and others football might be a full-contact sport but it is NOT war. And you don’t train your players to fight in war and survive. You’ve made GAME plans, not BATTLE plans. Get the f**k over yourself. YOUR decisions and your assistant’s at worst cost your team a game. A freaking game. Those military commanders of whom you are so dismissive spend every working day trying to ensure their troops survive in actual war zones, and that innocent civilians survive too.
Getting back to the AP article on today’s meeting of Senate Republicans it’s clear they are worried. Whichever Party happens to be in the minority in the Senate at a given time jealously protects the rights of those in that minority, hence the problem of the filibuster (or “holds”) having become abused. However things have reached a breaking point. Even Tuberville seems to finally be understanding that:
“I went in with one or two options. I’ve come out with five or six,” he said after the meeting. He also suggested he might let a small number of the nominations go through.
“There’s going to have to be some give-and-take,” Tuberville said.
We’ll see. Tub-O-Lards fellow GOPers are feeding him options and doing all they can to provide him a face-saving way out. How worried are they? Democrats are getting serious about a resolution that would allow blocks of promotions despite Coach Tommy’s objections. It suddenly seems to have reached critical mass and McConnell is I think worried about enough Republicans breaking ranks that the rule change will go through.
The resolution by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to provide for batch consideration of military nominations will be before the Senate Rules Committee next week. Reed said he believes that if the impasse isn’t resolved by then, a “number of Republicans will be ready to support the resolution.”
Prior to reading the AP article I’d have said this is all fantasy. That Senate GOPers, or at least enough of them will never cross over. But given todays meeting and Tuberville’s sudden change in tone I think McConnell is counting votes and not liking what he’s coming up with. So if Tuberville doesn’t relent it’s possible that next week he and the GOP are headed for a major embarrassment.
Let’s hope that before the end of the week those promotions are feed up and our armed forces can start fixing some of the damage Tuberville has done.