The Lame, Despicable, and Downright Dumb Responses to Tillerson's Ouster From the Democrats

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Happy Very Normal Day! Rex Tillerson is out and Mike Pompeo is in as secretary of state, with Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel taking Pompeo’s former job leading the CIA.


Many have noted that Pompeo and Haspel both have terrible records on torture. Pompeo defended the CIA’s use of torture, describing the CIA employees who carried it out as “patriots” and calling Guantanamo Bay “critical to national security.” Haspel played a “direct role” in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition program,” where militants were handed over to foreign governments to be tortured, according to the New York Times, and actually ran one such overseas black site prison in Thailand. There, two detainees underwent “brutal interrogations,” with one detainee being waterboarded 83 times in one month. Haspel also ordered the destruction of videotapes of the interrogations.

With this miserable cast of bastards—ranging from blithering to genuinely evil morons—in charge, our hopes lie with the Democratic Party to act as the opposition, to represent the moral heart of America, and to stand firm against the tyranny of the oligarchs and violent war hawks in power. However much we might wish our political system allowed for a different outcome, the Democrats are our only hope for the foreseeable future to stand up to the Republicans, to fight with everything they have against every injustice against America.

Let’s check in to see how that’s going and grade their responses, so far (with emphasis added throughout).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Secretary Tillerson’s firing sets a profoundly disturbing precedent in which standing up for our allies against Russian aggression is grounds for a humiliating dismissal. President Trump’s actions show that every official in his Administration is at the mercy of his personal whims and his worship of Putin.

It is no wonder that the President has trouble attracting high-caliber people to his Administration when he undercuts and humiliates those he supposedly respects.

Whenever Tillerson’s successor goes into meetings with foreign leaders, his credibility will be diminished as someone who could be here today and gone tomorrow. Continuity in our diplomatic personnel and policies are vital for championing American security, values, and interests.

Tillerson’s successor must approach the grave threat of Russian foreign aggression with the seriousness and urgency that it demands. As Director Pompeo has stated, he has ‘every expectation’ Russia will attack our democracy again. America must be ready.

I would pay $50 to any Democrat who can make a convincing case that a majority of independents and Democrats will be persuaded to go to the polls in November and vote Democratic on the basis of the Russia investigation.

Grade: C

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer


[Narrator voice]: He won’t.

Again, just a baffling approach: you know Pompeo won’t turn over a new leaf, so why not act like the opposition party and, I dunno, oppose him? And, of course, no mention of his or Haspel’s record on torture. Reuters also reported that Schumer isn’t calling on the Democrats to oppose Pompeo’s or Haspel’s confirmations at this time but wants to hear from them first. How nice!


Grade: D

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Feinstein, the Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee who had blocked Haspel’s confirmation for a previous post in 2013, spoke warmly of Haspel, saying they’ve had long conversations about the Bush-era torture programs and calling her a good deputy CIA director.

She said she would wait until the confirmation hearings to determine how she’d vote on Haspel’s nomination to become CIA director.

“I have spent some time with her. We have had dinner together. We have talked. Everything I know is that she has been a good deputy director of the CIA,” Feinstein said. “I think hopefully the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program.

“I think it’s something that can’t be forgotten,” Feinstein added. “I certainly will never forget it. I won’t let any director forget it.”


Oh, you’ve had dinner with her? Normal, very normal, to have dinner with people who oversee programs of torture.

Grade: F for fuuuuuuck off

Note: Feinstein gets a little extra credit for having blocked Haspel’s promotion to overseeing clandestine operations in 2013. However, I must be fair and evaluate the statements by themselves; she did say Haspel was a “good deputy director of the CIA.” I stand firm by my F.


Senator Bob Menendez

Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that “there are different sets of skills” for State and the CIA.

He said “being the CIA director requires one set of skills, being secretary of state requires diplomatic skills.”

When he asked if Pompeo had the necessary skills, he responded, “we’ll have to wait and see.”


Literally don’t even know what he said, can’t read it without falling asleep.

Grade: D+

Senator Tammy Duckworth

Duckworth issued a statement slamming Trump for firing Tillerson and choosing “chaos and turmoil.”

“Rather than taking serious steps to ensure stability or fill our diplomatic corps, once again Donald Trump chose chaos and turmoil today over the kind of leadership the American people desperately need and deserve,” she said in a statement. “Even worse, his new nominee to be secretary of state—the highest diplomatic post in the nation—has not expressed any moral opposition to torture.”


Not bad. Didn’t mention Putin, did mention torture.

Grade: B+

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse


Way too generous. Why give him a new look? Why. Why do that. Why!!!

Grade: D

Senator Chris Van Hollen


Well...Yes, because he agrees with Trump on basically everything? Because they’re both Republicans? What is with this dedication to continuously acting like Donald Trump is the only thing that makes Republicans bad? Pompeo would be a terrible secretary of state even if Mitt Romney was president.

Grade: C-

Senator Chris Coons

Coons, a Delaware Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters he doesn’t understand why Trump would dismiss Tillerson when he has been the one pushing for diplomacy with North Korea within the Trump administration.

“That he chose to dismiss his secretary of state in a manner more reminiscent of an episode of ‘The Apprentice’ than the respect he’s due for his service—at the exact moment that diplomacy is essential to securing some path forward with North Korea—strikes me as just irresponsible,” Coons said.


Lol!! The Apprentice, you’re fired mister!! Technically not a bad point, though it’s odd to concede that there was ever any kind of stability or decorum in this administration, Tillerson or no. And no mention of Haspel and torture.

Grade: C

Senator Bill Nelson

Nelson, a former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acknowledged he didn’t know Haspel, but praised her experience.

“I think the fact that she is a 30-year professional is a good sign,” he said.

I, too, respect people with long careers in torture.

Grade: D-

Representative Betty McCollum


Betty...Yes. Thank you. Betty for Pres.

Grade: A

Despite all this half-hearted posturing, I look forward to Mike Pompeo being confirmed with 95 Senate votes!

Splinter politics writer.