A Laborious Confirmation

Those few deluded souls
who are hoping for a return to honesty, integrity
and responsibility in government got a taste of “hope” and “change”
this Saturday, with the confirmation hearings for incoming labor
secretary Hilda Solis. The Los Angeles Times reports that
Solis, a woman who could be called one of the “most liberal” members of
Barack Obama’s cabinet without a lapse in objectivity, ducked and weaved
around Republican questions about her support for unions, only saying
that she “couldn’t speak for the Obama administration.” Oh no, of
course not, and I am sure Alger Hiss could not speak for his employers either!

Among one of the more priceless gems in Solis’s confirmation was
her thoroughly disingenuous refusal to express her approval of the
Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that she co-sponsored. Again, the
same refrain came back to hit Republicans who were under the impression
that a voting record might express an opinion: “I can’t speak for the
Obama administration.” Of course, given the demoralized state of the
Republican opposition, it’s no wonder that they let this bit of
scandalous doubletalk get by with only a few timid remarks about
upsetting the balance between management and worker. A more appropriate
response would have been the words of Cleopatra from Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra: “You lie up to the hearing of the Gods!”

What possible reason, other than her pro-union credentials, could
Obama have for picking Solis as his labor secretary? Indeed, why does
one get picked for any secretarial position, if not because of one’s
experience in the field, whether it be defending Marc Rich or landing under sniper fire in Bosnia?
Moreover, why would a Democratic President with tenuous ties to the
working class pick someone who was an unabashed union supporter to be
his secretary of labor? Perhaps it was her charming personality – at
least, if one considers an incapacity for honest discussion to be
charming.

The truth, as I have stated in a previous article, is that Obama should have left Solis here in California. It is incontestable that the woman is pro-union, but that is not the problem – the problem is that nominating someone who stands only slightly to the right of Arthur Scargill to ensure good behavior on the part of unions is an inexcusable instance of nominating the fox to run the hen

house. What
is even more bewildering is that several Republican legislators
including, paradoxically enough, Orrin Hatch, have announced their
intention to support Solis as the nominee. One expects this sort of
thing from fellow travelers, but not from Republican legislators with a record of being at least somewhat principled.

And surely, even if one does agree with Solis’s politics, it
must be a little disconcerting that someone like her has been placed in
the Obama cabinet, given Obama’s promises to keep his administration
transparent and lobbyist-free. Solis is arguably a lobbyist
and her disingenuous refusal to answer the tough questions shows her to
be no friend of transparency. Republicans seem anxious to back down on
this confirmation. They should not be so easily bullied. If Robert Bork
can be made to answer for extremism, then so must Hilda Solis –
otherwise, it will become clear that the only extremism which is
politically objectionable is extremism in the defense of liberty.