Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Texas Republican Senator Stops Defense Department Appointment in Order to Pressure Administration to Sell Taiwan Jets Built in Texas

The Combination of Pork Barrel and Partisan Politics Produces an Ugly Result

Foreign policy is conducted by the President and his administration, not by the Senate.  But the arcane and ridiculous rules of the Senate allow a single Senator to block the appointment of a person to a position in the administration, so a single Senator can exercise a huge amount of power if he or she is craven enough to do so.

Earlier the Obama Administration decided to upgrade fighter jets that are used by Taiwan for its defense, rather than sell them new jets.  Sen. John Cronyn was offended, probably not so much about Taiwan as about the fact that had new planes been authorized they would have been built in his political backyard.  This would have resulted in Sen. Cronyn being able to gain political points, which as everyone knows is the real purpose of holding public office.

So Sen. Cronyn is going to block the appointment of a defense department official.

Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) speaks
 at the Conservative Political Action Conference
(CPAC) in Washington, Feb. 11, 2012.
 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Last fall, the Obama administration informed Congress of plans to upgrade Taiwan’s existing fleet of F-16 fighters, instead of selling brand-new models. That move angered some lawmakers, and Sen. Cornyn responded Friday by placing a hold on the nomination of Mark Lippertto be assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security affairs.

That makes good on a threat Sen. Cornyn made in a November letter to PresidentBarack Obama requesting a plan to address what he called “Taiwan’s looming fighter shortfall.”

The U.S., Sen. Cornyn wrote, “should not give in to intimidation and threats from China, nor should we cede regional leadership there,” he wrote.

Even the Wall Street Journal recognizes this for what it is.

Arms sales to Taiwan are a longstanding point of friction between the U.S. and China, and Sen. Cornyn has been a persistent backer of the sale of new F-16s, which are built in Fort Worth, Texas.

The interesting thing is that while Sen. Cornyn does not want the U. S. to give in to intimidation and threats from China, he expects the Obama Administration to give in to threats and intimidation from Sen. Cornyn.

For most of us this is just another example of blatant political obstructionism.  For the U. S. Senate and for elected officials, it is just business as usual.

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