This year has seen one political low follow another.
It’s bad enough that Senate Dems now conduct party line votes against virtually any Trump nominee. That’s what the #resistance base demands. And political theater is what the legislative branch specializes in more than anything else. But, in the process, aspiring 2020 candidates are also smearing good and decent people simply because President Trump nominated them.
That’s the case with Kenneth Marcus.
Marcus is a Jewish civil rights leader. Aside from his opposition to BDS, there’s nothing that Dems could or have found to be objectionable about him. During the process, he answered questions thoughtfully and intelligently. And yet he not only had to be confirmed on a party line vote. But was hit with disgusting smears by Senator Cory Booker and Senator Kamala Harris.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Kenneth Marcus, a leading advocate against campus antisemitism, to serve as assistant secretary at the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education.
Marcus — who authored Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in Americain 2010 and The Definition of Anti-Semitism in 2015 — has frequently spoken out against what he described as rising antisemitism on American college campuses, which he blamed in part on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Some tactics used by BDS supporters — including harassment, vandalism, and even assault — represent “a violation of the civil rights of Jewish students,” he argued in September 2013.
Yet Marcus warned last year that the OCR “has been paralyzed” when it comes to addressing antisemitism.
“The reason for OCR’s powerlessness is that it is ill-equipped to recognize antisemitism when it sees it,” he argued, before endorsing the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), a bill that calls on the Department of Education to adopt the definition of antisemitism put forth by the State Department in 2010.
The left has insisted that this is “controversial” and have kept calling Marcus a controversial nominee. (They’ve yet to find a non-controversial Trump nominee.)
But then it got ugly with Senator Cory Booker, who apparently decided that he doesn’t represent New Jersey’s Jewish population at all, launching an extended smear of Marcus. In part based on Senator Patty Murray’s question as to whether Marcus can state where he disagrees with Trump. This is a cynical and dishonest “have you stopped beating your wife” question to ask of any nominee.
Senator Kamala Harris accused Marcus of threatening protection for gay rights. Booker suggested that Marcus didn’t care about racism.
Neither of them was willing to admit, what a Murray staffer did admit, that they don’t care about anti-Semitism and instead collaborate with anti-Semites.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) first weighed Marcus’s nomination. During a meeting discussing the Marcus nomination, a senior Democratic aide to Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the ranking member of the committee, said the Democratic office does not “care about anti-Semitism.”
“We don’t care about anti-Semitism in this office,” Murray’s senior adviser told a former colleague of Marcus. “We care about transgenders, we care about blacks, we care about Hispanics, we care about gays, we care about lesbians, we care about the disabled.”
Schumer’s office said it was too busy to meet with pro-Israel activists who were lobbying for Marcus to be confirmed. At the time, he released a bill dealing with marijuana use.
Though nominated on Oct. 30, 2017, the committee did not approve Marcus until Jan. 18, 2018. In all, it took 220 days for Marcus to be confirmed.
“To compare, President Obama’s two nominees to this position, Russlynn Ali and Catherine Lhamon, were confirmed in 45 and 52 days, and both were confirmed by a voice vote,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), the chairman of the HELP committee, noted on Thursday shortly before Marcus was confirmed.
This is how it is now.