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As his blockade continues, GOP’s Tuberville pitches new defense

Sen. Tommy Tuberville has come up with five defenses for his blockade on military promotions. The Republican's pitches are getting progressively worse.


Many on Capitol Hill hoped that Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blockade on confirming military promotions would be resolved before the members left for their August break. That clearly did not happen.

The Hill reported over the weekend that Senate GOP leaders, working behind the scenes, “tried and tried” to end the blockade, “but their efforts have failed.” Politico reported soon after that Tuberville’s radical tactic is “uncomfortably splintering both the Senate GOP and Alabama Republicans,” and no one seems to know when or how the matter will be resolved.

Criticisms from within the military, which have been increasingly common, are growing louder. Retired two-star Marine Gen. Arnold Punaro last week told Politico, “I have a huge problem with what Sen. Tuberville is doing. He’s a coward, in my book. ... I don’t think people really understand how detrimental this really is on a day-to-day basis.”

The retired general, after noting that Tuberville never served a day in uniform, added that the far-right senator “doesn’t understand our military.”

For his part, the Alabama Republican, over the course of several months, pushed a handful of defenses for his blockade. First, Tuberville said that he considers the Pentagon’s policy of travel reimbursements for troops in need of reproductive care to be illegal. Actual lawyers disagree, though the coach-turned-politician, who has no legal background, has the option of supporting a court case challenging the existing policy in court, rather than undermining his own country’s military.

Second, he argued that his anti-abortion tactics aren’t about abortion. That’s obviously foolish.

Third, the GOP senator suggested the Biden administration wasn’t paying enough attention to him, which was quite odd — does this guy really need hand-holding? — and which no longer makes any sense given Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s repeated efforts to convince Tuberville to be more responsible.

Fourth, the Alabaman has said his blockade has been inconsequential, which is sharply at odds with what actual military personnel have said.

All of which helped set the stage for Tuberville’s newest defense, which he published via social media late last week:

“My holds only affects [sic] generals and flag officers — 300 of the nearly 2 million people in the United States Armed Forces.”

In other words, as far as the confused senator is concerned, he’s not standing in the way of everyone in the military, “only” several hundred highly qualified and experienced servicemen and women, who've devoted their adult lives to their country.

And what’s wrong with this pitch? Quite a bit. For one thing, it’s not much of a defense for a senator to effectively concede that he’s undermining the interests of hundreds of military officers and their families. For another, the number continues to grow.

But just as importantly, whether someone has tried to explain this to Tuberville or not, when he stands in the way of military leaders, it affects those who serve under their command. This really isn’t that complicated.

And yet, thanks to the Alabama Republican, the blockade continues, and senators won’t return to work until after Labor Day.