Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Is Puzder really in trouble?

Just last week I thought that, while probably every Trump cabinet appointment would be confirmed, Betsy DeVos was the most vulnerable of the bunch. DeVos was confirmed, just barely, but last week's thesis could still be right if everyone else gets confirmed too by a less narrow vote.

On the other hand, that was last week's theory. This week I am not so sure. First, four GOP Senators have expressed reservations about Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder. Okay, that's kind of bullshit. We have seen this act before. A Republican Senator publicly expresses some concern and then votes for the nominee anyway, a song and dance just designed to make it look like the Senator is not a rubber stamp. (e.g. Rubio with Tillerson)

But Puzder has multiple problems. There's a serious allegation of domestic violence (which was retracted, but only as part of a settlement). There's the fact that Puzder broke many of the laws he would be called on to enforce as Labor Secretary. And there's the fact that he employed an undocumented alien as a housekeeper and did not pay taxes for her work. The latter is potentially another eruption of nannygate, which has sunk several cabinet nominations or near nominations in the recent past (e.g. Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood in the Clinton Administration, and Linda Chavez and Bernie Kerik in the W. Bush Administration (Kerik had multiple problems beyond just his nannygate issue)). The undocumented alien angle cuts right to the heart of a major issue for Trump supporters. That's why even the National Review opposes the nomination.

The National Review has lost a lot of its pull on the right. It famously led the charge of the #NeverTrump movement and we can all see how that turned out. But the National Review's reasons for opposing Puzder will resonate well beyond the shrinking number of GOPers who give a shit what the NR writes. Plus, the current re-eruptions of the Flynnghazi scandal may cause Republicans to reconsider the merits of giving uncritical support to a sinking administration. Puzder could actually be the one Trump cabinet nominee that does not make it.

Here's hoping.