- - Thursday, April 19, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I hope you were able to spend the recent Easter weekend with family and friends, in a relaxing setting over a long weekend.

Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, spent Easter weekend in Pyongyang, North Korea, on a secret mission to begin preparations for the bilateral meeting that will occur between the two countries, likely in June.

This trip was held in the strictest confidence for national security purposes, with its existence remaining private until two weeks after it ended.

After completing his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing, Mr. Pompeo is now awaiting Senate confirmation and a floor vote.

In a sign of the hyperpartisan atmosphere in Washington, Mr. Pompeo appears unlikely to be successfully recommended by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be secretary of state.

Mr. Pompeo finished first in his class at West Point and first in his class at Harvard Law School. He served with distinction in Congress as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and his term as CIA director has been successful.

Mr. Pompeo earned two dozen votes from Senate Democrats to be CIA director, when he was confirmed on Jan. 23, 2017, with 66 votes.

Now it appears nearly all of those Democrats will oppose his nomination for secretary of state.

Their reasoning is absurd.

Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, who was the Democratic nominee for vice president in November 2016, supported Mr. Pompeo for CIA director, but announced he will vote against him now, claiming Mr. Pompeo is not sufficiently interested in diplomacy.

Can someone inform Mr. Kaine that his zest for diplomacy was on display recently when he spent Easter with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un?

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, is ridiculously now opposing Mr. Pompeo because he is pro-life, has private and traditional views about marriage, and has expressed grave concern about radical Islam.

As the columnist Tom Rogan recently wrote, “Pompeo doesn’t deserve to be voted down due to personal views that he has never implemented into executive branch policy.”

The list goes on.

Senate Democrats are grasping at straws to explain their opposition to an eminently qualified nominee for the top diplomatic position in the U.S. government.

Their unquenchable thirst for opposing President Trump knows no limits.

But something far more sinister may be at play here.

Are Senate Democrats trying to tank the bilateral negotiation with North Korea? I certainly hope not. But one could reasonably draw that conclusion.

Opposing Mr. Pompeo for this role, after supporting him for another high-ranking national security role, is indefensible, given the quality of his term leading CIA.

He is now working to set the terms of debate and the preconditions for a successful negotiation with North Korea, which is one of the most vexing foreign policy dilemmas of the past two decades.

No one would have predicted that North Korea would publicly put denuclearization on the table in a negotiation with the U.S. That fact alone is a significant foreign policy achievement for this president and his administration.

North Korea has been forced to come to the table due to crippling economic sanctions, which were skillfully put in place by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.

Mr. Trump has persuaded China to move further than ever before to isolate North Korea.

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis has continued and expanded military training exercises in the region to demonstrate our military superiority and strengthen bilateral relationships in Asia.

And the administration has deepened diplomatic ties with Japan and South Korea, further isolating the regime.

The Trump administration’s “Maximum pressure campaign” has worked. And Mr. Trump, Mr. Pompeo and the entire team deserve credit for that.

Now the president needs his choice for secretary of state on the job to maximize the chance for success in the first bilateral meeting in June. Needless delay and phony reasons for opposing his nomination reveal the political motivations of many Senate Democrats.

Opponents argue that the State Department has hollowed out its senior leadership. Is the answer delaying and opposing a highly qualified nominee who has promised to fill the senior ranks and rebuild the department?

Democrats need to decide if they truly want a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear threat. If they do, their best option is to confirm Mike Pompeo immediately.

• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His “Mack on Politics” podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on WashingtonTimes.com.

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