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: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Pompeo: US ready to 'immediately' resume talks with North Korea READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV Keeping up with Michael Avenatti MORE or John KerryJohn Forbes KerryRubio wants DOJ to find out if Kerry broke law by meeting with Iranians Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Pompeo doubles down on criticism of Kerry: The Iran deal failed, 'let it go' 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 PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report 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 McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us 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 KainePoll: Kaine leads GOP challenger by 19 points in Va. Senate race GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser Corey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report 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 Trump 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.”