Anthony Tata is a nightmare by any metric, a former brigadier general who once said that former Criminal Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, a critic of President Donald Trump, should “suck on a pistol” and that he should prepare to be executed. As CNN reported, Tata called former President Barack Obama “a terrorist leader.”
Trump wanted Tata confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the No. 3 spot at Department of Defense as undersecretary for foreign policy, where the noted Islamophobe could push military goals based on hate and conspiracy theories. But even the Republican-controlled Senate seemed unlikely to confirm Tata. That is how terrible he is: even renowned scoundrels think Tata is a monster.
But Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saved the day for Tata and Trump by canceling Tata’s July 30 confirmation hearing 30 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Tata avoided the deserved embarrassment of not being confirmed as an undersecretary, and Inhofe paved the way for Trump to appoint him to a temporary senior position in that office. As New York Times reports, if he remains in the job for 90 days, he can then transition to an acting undersecretary position without Senate approval.
by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press
Inhofe, who is spending much of his dotage as a willing accessory to Trump’s aspirational authoritarianism, allowed Trump to circumvent his and the rest of the Senate’s approval. This is not the work of an active Senator maintaining a system of checks and balances for the good of the country. This is the work of a craven minion.
“While I have always stressed the need to have Senate-confirmed leadership in top Pentagon positions, I believe it is within the president’s authority to appoint DoD officials when and as appropriate,” Inhofe said in an email to NYT. “These are clearly critical positions within the department where a full bench is needed.”
The Department of Defense should have its top policy position staffed, but clearly not by Tata. Inhofe and his Republican colleagues did not want to carry the stain of having voted to confirm Tata, so they achieved the same end goal of installing Tata without the messiness of actual governing.
It was bad enough that Inhofe could be heard on July 29 conspiring with Trump on a speakerphone in Washington, D.C.’s Trattoria Alberto to retain the name of Fort Lee, Virginia to honor Confederate traitor Robert E. Lee. But according to NYT, Inhofe can be heard conspiring with Trump to have Tata “resign” and be appointed to another position. The next day, the supplicant Inhofe did Trump’s bidding.
Clearly, Trump believes it is crucially important for Tata to be in that particular position, and to be able to become acting undersecretary for policy by Oct. 28, 2020 — 90 days after Inhofe’s abdication of responsibility. For instance, Trump might find it valuable to have DoD policy being decided by an ally in the event that things do not go as Trump desires on Nov. 3, just six days after Tata assumes the acting undersecretary position.
If Trump’s circumvention of the Senate results in a democracy-flouting atrocity, then Inhofe will carry much of the blame. And, at 85 years old, he does not have to worry much about what the future looks like. This is why Senator Snowball constantly advocates for fossil fuels and denies climate change, because the real damage from his policies will likely be felt after he, as William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, shuffles off this mortal coil.
One must wonder why Inhofe insists on running for Senate for a term that will end when he is 92. By paving the way for more unilateral actions by Trump and giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a break from having to vote for or against a disaster like Anthony Tata, Inhofe acts like he does not want to be a Senator anymore.
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