Advice and descent

In Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent, still in print after all these years, the president’s left-wing nominee for Secretary of State has a secret. As a young man — echoes of the Hiss case — he was a member of a Communist cell.

Leffingwell’s Communist past is a secret that must be covered up. Complications ensue, giving life to a Washington novel that is one of our favorites. Novelist Thomas Mallon rendered his considered literary judgment in his fiftieth anniversary tribute to the novel.

Times have changed, big league. By the time President Obama nominated John Kerry as Secretary of State, what were once vices had become habits hardly worthy of mention in polite company (as in this Boston Globe backgrounder).

Kerry had been wrong on just about every foreign policy issue he has addressed in the course of a long public career, stretching back to 1971. As an undergraduate, I saw him in person speaking on campus at the Hopkins Center peddling the vicious lies that turned him into a national celebrity. I believed him because I was credulous and sophomoric, but what excuse did he have?

Like Leffingwell, Kerry had been worse than mistaken. But it was no secret. It was out there in the open, and the guy nevertheless came within a hair of being elected president in 2004. John Perazzo reviewed the record of the man Obama saluted as “the perfect choice” to be his Secretary of State: “The historical record informs us that not only has John Kerry been on the wrong side of every major foreign policy issue for most of his adult life, including Iraq, Nicaragua and most recently in Syria, but he has routinely engaged in deception to conceal his folly. What’s worse, Kerry has a clear record of giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies, all the while never missing an opportunity to viciously trash our brave forces fighting against them.”

Returning to Advise and Consent, I recall recall that a key plot point hangs on the blackmailing of the senior senator from Utah in connection with a youthful homosexual affair. He is threatened with disclosure of the affair if he fails to vote in favor of the left-wing nominee. Rather than submit he commits suicide.

President Trump’s nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to serve as Secretary of State is to be voted on by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Democrats have united in opposition. Given the additional opposition of Rand Paul, observers anticipate that Pompeo will receive a negative recommendation from the committee. Marc Thiessen traces the historic (and disgraceful) nature of such a negative committee vote against a Secretary of State nominee in this column.

One of the Democrats’ points against Pompeo is his disapproval of homosexual sex and homosexual marriage. He is apparently guilty of subscribing to traditional Christian doctrine. If only Pompeo could reveal himself to be a man with a homosexual past proclaiming “correct” thoughts, he might qualify to serve as Secretary of State. Coincidentally, the Democrats would also prefer a nominee who vowed to continue the Obama administration’s love affair with the mullahs who hang Iranian homosexuals for “male to male anal intercourse.”

We are reminded once once again. Democrats, you’ve come a long way from Advise and Consent, from advice and consent, and from the Constitution, baby.

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