Broadly speaking, Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s troubled career on Capitol Hill has been defined by two serious problems. The first, of course, has been the Alabama Republican’s willingness to undermine his own country’s military by imposing a blockade on efficient confirmation of military nominees.
Once in a while, however, the far-right senator’s problems intersect. Bloomberg reported:
US Senator Tommy Tuberville said he objected to efforts by a top military official to recruit and promote racial minorities in the armed forces, saying equal opportunity threatens military readiness. “Let me tell you something. Our military is not an equal opportunity employer,” the Alabama Republican said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” Tuesday.
No, really, that’s what he said.
As part of the same interview, Tuberville said he opposed Air Force Gen. Charles Brown Jr.’s nomination to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because, as the senator put it, the general has “some woke policies.” Asked for an example, the Alabaman said he’d heard Brown say “some things” about “race and things that he wanted to mix into the military.”
This was in apparent reference to the general noting that only 2% of Air Force pilots are Black, and recommending that the Air Force explore ways to add more diversity to the ranks.
This, evidently, led the senator to reject Brown’s nomination, though he was confirmed anyway.
But it was Tuberville’s latest comments about the military that seemed hard to believe. The Republican not only said the United States military “is not an equal opportunity employer,” as part of the same interview, he added, “Don’t give me this stuff about equal opportunity, because that’s not what this military is about.”
It’s entirely possible that Tuberville has no idea what “equal opportunity” means — the coach-turned-politician is still rather new to public service and federal policymaking, and he’s been confused about the details of his own tactics — but Bloomberg’s report added:
The US military has had an equal opportunity policy since 1948, when President Harry Truman signed an executive order desegregating the military and guaranteeing “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” That order, 16 years before passage of the Civil Rights Act, was a significant force in the desegregation of US society.
It’s worth noting from time to time that Senate Republicans thought it’d be a good idea to let Tuberville serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. It’s hardly outlandish to think members should have a new conversation about whether it’s time to revisit this committee assignment.
For his part, Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina told Bloomberg Television that Tuberville is “the worst of the worst.”
As for the future of his blockade, the Alabaman appeared on Newsmax last night and said, “I’m not changing my mind; I’m not hurting readiness.” Actual U.S. military leaders keep trying to explain that he is, in reality, doing real harm to the armed forces, but Tuberville has apparently convinced himself that they’re wrong and he’s right.
In the same interview, the GOP senator boasted anew, “In terms of wokeness in the military, I singlehandedly am going to fight this by not letting admirals and generals be able to be promoted.”
There’s been some talk on Capitol Hill about how best to circumvent Tuberville’s holds in the interest of national security. Don’t be too surprised if those discussions start picking up steam in the coming days and weeks.