By a vote of 51-48, the Senate confirmed Kristen Clarke for the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. (Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana didn’t vote.) The Senate confirmed Clarke for the nation’s top civil rights job despite her past history of anti-Semitism and Black supremacism, her very recent support for defunding the police, her current support for racial discrimination in hiring, and her dishonest testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The first observation I want to make about Clarke’s confirmation relates to timing. At this stage of his presidency, Donald Trump hadn’t even nominated anyone to head the Civil Rights Division.
Furthermore, after Trump finally nominated Eric Dreiband, it took about a year and a half to confirm him. This despite the fact that, numerically, the Senate was more firmly in control of Republicans during that period than it is in control of Democrats now.
The lesson? Democrats are intensely focused on pushing their divisive and potentially ruinous racial agenda. Republicans have been asleep at the switch.
My second observation is that, although Clarke and her ideological double Vanita Gupta both were only able to win one Republican vote, the identity of the renegade Republican changed. Gupta received Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s vote. Clarke didn’t, but picked up Sen. Susan Collins’ vote. Collins had voted against Gupta.
It’s difficult to discern major differences between Clarke and Gupta. Both are equally radical, equally determined to undermine law enforcement (the current wave of violent crime, notwithstanding), and equally committed to broadening the racial spoils system.
Both, I believe, criticized Senators for their willingness to confirm Donald Trump’s nominees to judgeships and key administration jobs. Both were vicious in their attacks on some of these nominees.
Gupta doesn’t have Clarke’s history of blatant and overt anti-Semitism; nor did Gupta ever argue that Blacks are superior to Whites. (Both agreed during the Trump administration that nominees should be held accountable for the views they expressed when in college). This fact makes Collins’ votes particularly hard for me to understand.
The other discernible difference is that Clarke is Black and Gupta is of Asian descent. That, of course, shouldn’t matter at all.
I won’t speculate as to how these considerations, and possibly others, led Murkowski to vote for Gupta but against Clarke, and Collins to vote in the reverse. In the end, it didn’t matter because Sen. Joe Manchin gave both the vote they needed. Gupta and Clarke would have been confirmed regardless of how Murkowski and Collins voted.
However, the Democrats’ hold on the Senate is so tenuous that the death of one Senate Dem in a state with a Republican governor would give the GOP a majority. Thus, it’s not idle to wonder where Murkowski and Collins were coming from with these two votes.
It may be futile, though.
I’ll conclude with this observation. Had Clarke’s nomination been rejected, the post would very likely have been filled by someone equally radical. However, that nominee probably would have been less vicious and less dishonest than Gupta, and presumably wouldn’t have a history of anti-Semitism and Black supremacism. Thus, it’s unfortunate that Clarke was confirmed.
The upside of the fight over Clarke’s confirmation is that, finally, Republicans no longer seem to be asleep at the switch when it comes to countering the Democrats’ radical agenda on race (Murkowski and Collins aside). And it may be that Justice Department policies under Gupta-Clarke will produce a strong backlash that awakens even some non-Republicans.