North Korea is moved by Pompeo diplomacy, but Dems dig in deeper

North Korea is moved by Pompeo diplomacy, but Dems dig in deeper
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council US pulls out of UN Human Rights Council Negotiators must redouble efforts as clock ticks on NAFTA MORE secretly travelled to Pyongyang to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and engage in high-stakes diplomacy. Now Democrats must think twice about trying to stop his nomination to be secretary of State.

By all accounts, Pompeo, who still serves as CIA director, made progress in arranging a summit between Kim and Trump later this spring. The development undercuts the latest false narrative by the anti-Trump chorus in Washington, which had begun to cast doubts on whether the summit was real. Pompeo made progress on thorny groundwork issues like location and agenda for this first-ever meeting between American and North Korean leaders, which hopefully will lead to a less dangerous world.

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Kim would not have received Pompeo unless he was convinced that he spoke authoritatively for Trump. Indeed, Trump’s willingness to send Pompeo shows how much he trusts the former congressman and West Point graduate, who has briefed him on intelligence matters throughout his presidency. The two men see eye to eye on achieving peace through strength — and Kim’s willingness to talk emerged only after a year of steady U.S.-led military, diplomatic, and economic pressure on Pyongyang. However, the two men also prioritize diplomacy over military intervention, as evidenced by the Trump’s wiliness to engage in unprecedented personal diplomacy with Kim.

One would think these diplomatic instincts would be welcome in the Senate, where, throughout U.S. history, secretaries of State have routinely been confirmed with overwhelming votes. Republicans didn’t care much for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski says 'womp womp' at story of young girl being separated from mother at border Giuliani: FBI asked me about tease of a 'surprise' before election Republicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe MORE or John KerryJohn Forbes KerryShould President Trump, like President Obama, forsake human rights in pursuit of the deal with a tyrant? GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system Democrats conflicted over how hard to hit Trump on Iran MORE, but they still joined bipartisan votes of 94-2 and 94-3, respectively, in favor of their confirmations during the Obama years. Presumably, the senators thought even a president of the other party deserved the cabinet of his choice provided nominees weren’t radically mismatched. Even amid the intense furor over the Iraq War, 32 Democrats voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as chief diplomat during the second Bush term with only 13 Democrats opposed.

Who could have guessed those acrimonious times would look congenial and bipartisan in retrospect? Today’s Democrats, apparently as part of their self-styled “resistance” to a duly-elected president, are contemplating a uniform vote against Pompeo in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Republicans have only a one-vote margin. Since they may be joined by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Ky.), Pompeo could hit the Senate floor with an unprecedented negative committee vote.

If Paul remains a “no” and with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (R-Ariz.) out receiving cancer treatment, Pompeo will need at least one Democrat to vote yes on the floor to be confirmed.

It’s a disgrace that there aren’t dozens willing to offer support. Some 14 Senate Democrats previously voted in favor of Pompeo for director of the CIA, where frankly one can do much more damage than at the State Department. Even liberal Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineKoch brothers group won't back Stewart in Virginia Kaine shares photos of child detention facility: ‘The real Trump Hotel’ GOP senator: Family separation policy 'inconsistent' with American values MORE (D-Va.) voted for Pompeo at that time. But on Sunday, Kaine declared his opposition, pathetically explaining his flip-flop: “We have a president who is anti-diplomacy and I worry that Mike Pompeo has shown the same tendency to oppose diplomacy.” Don’t tell that to Kim Jong Un.

By essentially all accounts, Pompeo performed extremely well as CIA director, managing and reforming that sprawling bureaucracy and helping to defeat ISIS, among other accomplishments. Now he’s shown himself to be adept at tough diplomacy even without the title and trappings of being secretary of State.

Democratic opposition to Pompeo clearly has nothing to do with his with his qualifications, views, or track record. Are they ready to explain to voters this November why they put anti-Trump rage ahead of diplomacy and their country’s national security?

Christian Whiton was a State Department senior adviser in the Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest and the author of “Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War.”