Commentary

Tillis: Skillfully manipulating the media with symbolic gestures

Sen. Thom Tillis has garnered himself a smattering of national attention recently by making some modest gestures of opposition to one of Donald Trump’s most outrageous actions — the plan to fund his border wall via a declaration of national emergency. (As an aside, isn’t it interesting that he chose to speak out in the Washington Post rather than a home state news outlet?)

And while any opposition that can be mustered to the policies of the Great Prevaricator is certainly better than nothing, it needs to be pointed out that:

a) Tillis’s opposition is purely symbolic (the votes simply aren’t there to override a Trump veto on the issue), and

b) on the fights that really do matter, Tillis continues to vote and act in lockstep with Trump.

In other words, any talk of Tillis being some kind of “maverick” is just plain silly.

Take, for example, the critical issue of the ongoing right-wing assault on the federal courts. Just yesterday, Tillis continued his knee-jerk support for Trump’s parade of unqualified ideologues by supporting Allison Rushing of North Carolina, who will join the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is from a statement issued by the nonpartisan Alliance for Justice on Rushing (a lawyer with only nine years’ experience who once interned for a far right group backing the “recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S.”):

“In confirming Allison Rushing, the GOP-led Senate is reaffirming that political partisanship matters much more than experience when it comes to judicial nominations under the Trump Administration. Rushing graduated from law school in 2007, so her resume is short — but it’s already packed with the kind of hard-right activities and affiliations that are de rigueur for Trump judicial nominees, including membership in the Federalist Society and work for the Alliance Defending Freedom – an extreme anti-LGBTQ group. Sadly, Rushing now has a lifetime seat on the federal bench, where she could have the opportunity to adjudicate the rights of millions of Americans for four or five decades.”

Right after that, Tillis voted to support Trump’s dreadful nomination of anti-Affordable Care Act crusader, Chad Readler. Again, here’s the Alliance for Justice — this time from a powerful post entitled “Chad Readler’s lack of conscience”:

“In his role at DOJ, Readler filed the government’s brief in the case, in which the Trump Administration argued that key provisions of the ACA were unconstitutional. Tellingly, Readler was then nominated to a highly influential federal judgeship in the Sixth Circuit – on the very same day he filed his brief.

Readler’s decision to file the brief was so striking that three Justice Department lawyers refused to sign it, and a veteran Justice Department lawyer resigned in protest. Chad Readler, in contrast, apparently could sleep at night knowing that if his legal argument was successful, over 50 million Americans, including cancer patients, people with disabilities, and pregnant women, would lose health insurance.

Should we have expected anything different from Readler? The answer, sadly, is no.

Like almost all Trump judicial nominees, Readler has a record of working to undermine constitutional rights and legal protections for all Americans. He has attacked voting rights and rights for women and LGBTQ Americans; worked to eliminate the right to public education in Ohio; defended attacks on immigrants; and sought to weaken protections for workers and consumers.”

And, of course, even as Tillis makes feints designed to win over the national media, he continues to inundate voters back home with pleas for money to help him “stand with President Trump,” fight for “border security” and “keep our country safe.”

The bottom line: Tillis is continuing to do what he’s always done — present himself to the public as a modern, affable and seemingly reasonable conservative while, at the same time, doing virtually everything in his power to advance the agenda of the far right. Let’s hope his constituents catch on soon.

One Comment


  1. Rob Davis

    March 6, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Here is part of his response to the Green New Deal:

    “This Green New Deal is impracticable and simply unachievable… It contains a series of proposals that would bring irreparable harm to low-income and rural communities… The underlying objective of this ‘Deal’ is to institute outrageous tax increases on hardworking Americans and redistribute the money to people and businesses based on who liberals determine should be winners and losers. In other words, it is the first step in reshaping American government into a socialist regime… We must use an all of the above strategy to adapt, become more resilient, and to mitigate damages from climate change. There are policies that can help bend the curve of human contributions to the climate crisis, but the Green New Deal is not one of them.”

    Well at least he doesn’t deny climate change! Good boy.

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