July 17, 2023

Tommy Tuberville

“The U.S. Marine Corps is without a confirmed leader for the first time in a century as Gen. David Berger stepped down as commandant on Monday… Gen. Eric Smith, currently the assistant commandant, has been nominated to be the next leader, but will serve in an acting capacity because he hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate…

“Smith’s promotion delay is the first of what could be many top level military officers held up by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. Tuberville has stalled all nominations for senior military jobs because he disagrees with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to have the Defense Department pay for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care.” AP News

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From the Left

The left criticizes Tuberville, arguing that blocking nominations is harming military readiness.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) writes, “The Defense Department is not funding abortions. It simply allows service members reimbursement for travel if they are forced to make their way to a state with less draconian reproductive policies. There, they can receive a range of health care services, from IVF to, yes, legal abortions…

“[Tuberville has] injected politics into what should be an entirely nonpartisan promotions process, as his extremist stance on women’s rights blocks talented nominees from taking on the challenges of their next positions…

“The people who would be most hurt here are our lowest ranking service members and their families. The higher-ranking members —like other more well-off members of our society — will have the personal resources to travel. These younger folks do not. They are the ones forced to ask for a pass from their sergeants to leave their base to take care of their health care needs. They are the ones at risk. The ones we’d be abandoning if the senator gets his way.”

Tammy Duckworth, MSNBC

“As sharp as his football instincts may be, Tuberville ‘is not someone known for being well-versed in history or facts.’… Tuberville has wrongly identified the branches of the US government, misstated the reason why Americans fought in World War II, and falsely claimed that Vice President Al Gore served as president-elect for 30 days during the Florida recount. ‘But maybe his most troubling, ahistorical musing is on White nationalists… [Tuberville] has suggested that they may be misunderstood White people, wrongly disparaged by Democrats.’”

Richard Galant, CNN

“Due to Tuberville’s intransigence, the Marine Corps lacks a Senate-confirmed commandant for the first time in 164 years. Two more service chiefs are due to retire next month… As seven former defense secretaries noted in a May letter, the commanders of the Navy’s Fifth and Seventh Fleets — covering the Middle East and Indo-Pacific — as well as the next US military representative to NATO and US Cyber Command’s director of intelligence are also in limbo…

“This leadership void is already damaging military readiness. Officers serving in an acting capacity don’t have the same authority they would if Senate-confirmed: Incoming Marine commandant General Eric Smith, for instance, can’t issue crucial planning guidance for the service. Uncertainty takes a toll on military families, who can’t relocate or receive new salaries until appointments are official… Tuberville may know football, but he has no right to play with the nation’s security.”

The Editors, Bloomberg

From the Right

The right shares Tuberville’s concerns about the new policy, but is divided as to whether blocking nominations is the appropriate remedy.

The right shares Tuberville’s concerns about the new policy, but is divided as to whether blocking nominations is the appropriate remedy.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) writes, “Since March the Pentagon has been spending our tax dollars for travel and extra paid time off for service members and their kids to get abortions – something Congress neither authorized nor appropriated. We now have nonbinary recruiting ambassadors and drag queen performances on Navy ships…

“Politicizing the military would be a tragedy in any country. But it is especially tragic because the American military is the last nonpolitical institution in our public life, the most effective military ever known, and the one force above all that has deterred large-scale war since 1945…

“If the Left completes its long march through our institutions and succeeds in taking over our military, then we stand to lose not only our security, but also the rules-based global order along with it.”

Tommy Tuberville, Fox News

“If Tuberville’s refusal to grant consent for the Senate to approve military promotions is really a threat to national security, then there is a really simple solution: the Pentagon should rescind its [decision]

“It is the Pentagon that picked this fight by unilaterally announcing that they would begin, for the first time ever, paying for service members to travel to get abortions. This was 100% a political decision by the Biden administration in the middle of an election year. National security played no part in the policy change…

“The Biden administration made this policy change unilaterally without consulting Congress. Tuberville has every right to use the power given to him by the people of Alabama to push back against Biden’s imperial decree.”

Conn Carroll, Washington Examiner

“The Pentagon isn’t responding to a crisis in the force. Women have long served abroad in countries that restrict abortion. The Senate GOP letter asked the Pentagon for information on how many women service members or families have declined tours in places such as South Korea or Germany based on concerns about abortion access. The committee says the Pentagon hasn’t produced such data…

“The Defense Department deliberately waded into a live political fight and is mortgaging the public’s trust to make a statement on social policy. The Pentagon can’t then plead innocence when Americans conclude that the U.S. military has been co-opted for partisan purposes… Still, Sen. Tuberville should be looking for an exit from his box canyon. He can put his objections on the record with an amendment to the defense policy bill.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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