Puzder withdrawal feeds “turmoil” narrative

Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration for the Labor Secretary position on Wednesday. He had lost the backing required from Senate Republicans because he once hired an illegal immigrant for domestic work.

The Trump resistance organ known as the Washington Post promptly declared that Puzder’s withdrawal “throw[s] the White House into more turmoil.” I don’t know that the White House is in turmoil. If it is, the Puzder affair won’t add to that state.

This is hardly the first time that employing an illegal immigrant for domestic work has wrecked the nomination of a would-be Cabinet member. In 2001, Linda Chavez withdrew her name for consideration for the same position Puzder sought — Secretary of Labor — due to this concern. In reporting on the story, the New York Times said nothing about it injuring the nascent Bush administration.

In 1993, two of Bill Clinton’s selections for Attorney General fell through for the same basic reason. First, Zoe Baird was nixed because she had employed two illegal immigrants for household work.

When Clinton tried again, his second selection, Kimba Wood, withdrew because she had paid an illegal immigrant to be a baby-sitter. Wood reportedly did not tell the Clinton White House about this problem when asked directly about it.

The collapse of Baird and Wood as candidates for Attorney General was particularly embarrassing because the Clinton administration had held out Gerald Baliles and Charles Ruff as the other candidates under consideration. In reality, however, Clinton, at the urging of his wife, was determined to nominate a woman. Thus, when Wood fell through, he had to ignore the men on his short-list and reach all the way down to the obscure Janet Reno, who hadn’t been mentioned for the job.

I found the New York Times story on Wood’s withdrawal from February 1993 (note its use of the term “illegal alien” which also appears in the January 2001 story about Chavez). The Times didn’t underplay the embarrassing nature of the story. However, it never suggested that the Baird-Wood drama had any real implications for the general standing and well being of the White House.

Neither does the Puzder affair.

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