January 20, 2010

Life Goes On: Adios, Erroll Southers

Hatched by Dafydd

The week in politics just keeps getting better and better.

In a brief and happy follow-up to an earlier post on Big Lizards, Terror Strike Out, we are pleased to report that Barack H. Obama's nominee to head up the Transportation Security Agency, Erroll Southers, has withdrawn. Or Obama withdrew him. Or he was informed that he would never be confirmed, so beat it.

Or else, maybe another big revelation was about to drop, and he high-tailed it -- Bog only knows:

President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew his name Wednesday, a setback for an administration still trying to explain how a man could attempt to blow up a commercial airliner on Christmas Day.

The Obamacle nominated Southers in September, but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) put a hold on the nomination. To quote ourselves (one of our favorite pastimes)...

DeMint's hold... is due to Southers' refusal so far to answer one simple question:

DeMint won't withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question -- does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint's question, even though it's importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.

In addition, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line noted that Southers repeatedly lied to the Senate during his, Southers', confirmation hearings. (Actually, I don't think Paul has ever undergone Senate confirmation hearings, so you probably weren't confused. Never mind.)

During testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, two senators, Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) and Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%) -- the chair and ranking member of that committee -- questioned Southers about his abuse of authority when he was in the FBI. In response, he lied at least twice. He "corrected" his testimony only when he was caught.

Southers later admitted that he used his FBI powers to run a database search on his "then-estranged wife's boyfriend," and that the FBI censured him when they found out; that was lie number one. The second was that in his corrected testimony, he said that he had gotten the local police to do the search; in fact, he subsequently admitted he had run it personally, himself. Each correction was issued only after the lie was discovered.

The "coups d'étatist" just keep coming, don't they?

Southers continues to whine about his ill treatment, rather than simply man-up and answer the questions:

Erroll Southers said he was pulling out because his nomination had become a lightning rod for those with a political agenda. Obama had tapped Southers, a top official with the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, to lead the TSA in September but his confirmation has been blocked by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who says he was worried that Southers would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Southers said the confirmation process made him question his willingness to participate in public service.

"I am not a politician. I'm a counterrrorism expert," Southers said Wednesday. "They took an apolitical person and politicized my career."

His response makes me doubly glad that DeMint stood firm on the unionization question, and that Lieberman and Collins stood firm on the abuse issue. Curiously, it looked like Obama and Southers had already won just before they pulled the plug (kind of like the voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers). From the Washington Post piece liked atop:

The withdrawal of Southers' nomination was another setback for the TSA at a time when the government is still trying to answer questions from Congress about how a man was able to carry out a bombing attempt on Christmas Day on a Northwest Airlines flight found from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Democrats had lined up behind Southers' nomination after the December incident, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying he would call for a full Senate vote on his confirmation this year.

This is why I wonder whether another shoe was about to drop: Ordinarily, a president doesn't pull a nominee when the Majority Leader of the Senate has practically guaranteed a vote. Perhaps Southers, like ObamaCare, fell "victim" to the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts... which means that Obama must have been pretty sure that Republicans would vote en masse against the Southers nomination.

Frankly, I would find that unlikely... unless the president (or his nominee) knows something I don't know, a possibility that now becomes a probability.

I admit that on paper, he looked like a good candidate to head the TSA; but that's why you don't hire an applicant until you've had a chance to interview him in person. In this case, it was the tête-à-tête in the Senate that brought out both these problems, either of which alone should have been a deal-killer:

  • That Southers clearly had every intent of giving "collective bargaining" rights to TSA employees, so they could threaten national security by going on strike whenever their union demands it (so much for being "an apolitical person");
  • And that he had already abused his authority at one law-enforcement agency, then lied to the Senate about it at least twice -- a point he failed to bring up in his whiny withdrawal announcement.

In any event, another Obamic nominee bites the dust. So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2010, at the time of 4:54 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Freetime

Given the timing, I wonder if he (or Rahm; or Axlerod) didn't just see the writing on the wall. Brown's election has likely changed the dynamics of the "most transparent administration evah..." and the realization that just bulling things through is unlikely to work as well as before may be sinking in.

The above hissed in response by: Freetime [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 21, 2010 8:35 AM

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