If I were a Senator, I’d vote to confirm Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. My main reason would be a procedural one: as with Supreme Court Justices, I believe that any nominee of the President to a senior Administration post should be confirmed, subject to two criteria: whether the candidate is objectively qualified for the position; and the absence of any other objective disqualifying factors (prior criminal conviction, demonstrable drug abuse problem, etc.). The nominee’s subjective leanings – e.g., that s/he is too soft or too hardline in foreign policy – shouldn’t, in my view, be part of the assessment.
Although many may not care for Mr. Pompeo’s stated positions on Iran and North Korea, his experience on the Congressional Intelligence Committee and at the CIA have made him arguably qualified to serve as Secretary of State. I have not seen reference to anything that would constitute “other objective disqualifying factors” in the context I used the phrase above. He has the confidence of the President – perhaps the most important subjective criteria to serve successfully as Secretary.
Mr. Pompeo’s participation in the North Korea negotiations has, whether by accident or design on the President’s part, strengthened the case for his confirmation. He has seemingly established some ability to communicate with Mr. Kim. His expressed hardline stances perhaps give him more credibility than another diplomat considered more restrained. Finally — although I have concerns that the outcome of the negotiations will not be in the long-term best interest of the United States (Noise to be saved for another day’s post) – since Mr. Pompeo is a central player for us in Korea negotiations now clearly underway, it would in my view be a mistake to undermine Mr. Pompeo by rejecting his nomination.