Hawkish Republicans Set To Bury Trump’s Afghan Ambassador Nominee

The Senate is about to wade neck-deep into a confirmation battle over a Supreme Court nominee. But even as their calendar jams up, they shouldn’t forget another important executive appointment: Will Ruger, nominated by Donald Trump to be the new ambassador to Afghanistan. Ruger is a board member and longtime friend of The American Conservative. A Naval Reserve officer, a realist on foreign policy, a foe of idiotic wars, his elevation was viewed as a statement that the president is committed to bringing the troops home from Afghanistan.

There’s just one problem: the gears of Ruger’s confirmation have ground to a halt. Part of the fault appears to lie with the White House, which waited more than a month to send the nomination to Congress. Another obstacle is that Supreme Court fight, which is set to suck up all of the oxygen on Capitol Hill. But there’s also an ideological angle here, as the Huffington Post noted last weekend:

Ruger’s positions are far less bellicose than those of top lawmakers who will determine his fate, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho). Those lawmakers may not want a public fight with the president over the nomination – and they almost certainly blessed Trump’s choice behind closed doors before he sent it to Capitol Hill – but they may also decide the easiest option is to simply never consider the matter at all.

Bear in mind that the Post’s piece was published before Ginsburg passed away; now that she’s gone, Republicans who wanted to duck Ruger’s confirmation have a perfect excuse. McConnell and Senate leadership are usually tacit about breaking ranks with Trump, but in cases of foreign policy, they’ve proven bolder. Recall that McConnell himself denounced Trump’s plan to pull troops out of Syria in 2019 and even introduced a resolution opposing it. The idea that he was going to easily accede to Ruger’s nomination was always farfetched.

Read the rest of the article at The American Conservative.

Matt Purple is a senior editor at The American Conservative.

In Which Joe Biden Brags About Having Written the Patriot Act

Imagine being a progressive forced to vote for Joe Biden. There aren’t enough clothespins in the world to hold your nose. Biden has lately tried to make inroads with the left, jumping onboard the post-George Floyd campaign for racial justice and releasing an economic plan that encompasses many progressive priorities. But even that can’t mask the smell of his support for the Iraq war, his authoring of the 1994 crime bill, his backing of 1996 welfare reform legislation.

Oh, and he essentially wrote the Patriot Act too. Here he is bragging about that during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2002, featuring, natch, a smirking Robert Mueller:

The bill Biden is boasting about was called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, which itself contained two subsidiary bills dedicated to fighting domestic terrorism. Biden introduced the legislation in the Senate, while then-congressman Chuck Schumer introduced it in the House, with the Clinton administration in full support. The package was backed by other Democrats too, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, and opposed by civil libertarians and many Republicans who were worried it would be used to, as Biden said, target conservative groups.

Read the rest of the article at The American Conservative.

Matt Purple is a senior editor at The American Conservative.

Saudi Arabia Threatens Democrats: We’ll Support You

Our great and glorious ally Saudi Arabia has fallen on hard times. The coronavirus has arrived in the desert kingdom, prompting its government to take emergency measures and sending its economy into a tailspin. Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plan to turn his country into Tomorrowland, has either, depending on who you check, hit a speed bump or crashed headlong into a wall.

Perhaps most ominous of all, though, the recent Saudi-Russian economic war, which at one point turned the price of oil negative, has sparked unrest in the Saudi heartland, by which we mean the GOP. As Daniel Larison has pointed out, Senator Ted Cruz, normally prostrate in front of the Saudis, criticized them publicly in recent weeks. He wasn’t alone: other GOP senators, many from oil-rich states, threatened to impose tariffs and sanctions on Riyadh. And according to Reuters, Donald Trump called the crown prince himself and threatened to withdraw military support unless the price war ended. The message was summed up by one American official: “We are defending your industry while you’re destroying ours.”

And doesn’t that just sum up the entire U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Read the rest of the article at The American Conservative.