A Gentleman from Delaware

In the midst of the day-to-day political melodramas that keep the country’s citizens waiting for the next push notification on their smartphones, it seems that the only bipartisanship you see is the willingness to be pugnacious. However, amidst all of the squabbling, there was a break in the stormy clouds. 

Ever since Rex Tillerson was relieved of his duties as America’s top diplomat last month, the country has weighed in on the President’s nominee to be the next Secretary of State. Currently serving the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo endured an hours-long marathon of questions from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. While the nomination was not expected to be reported favorably out of the committee prior to Monday due to Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) opposition to Director Pompeo, a late-breaking announcement came from Senator Paul that he would vote in favor of the nomination when the panel voted Monday evening. There was just one problem: not every Republican was present. 

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) had just eulogized a long-time personal friend at a funeral in Atlanta earlier that day and was not expected to be in Washington, D.C. until late Monday night. Without Georgia’s senior senator, who chairs both the Ethics and Veterans’ Affairs committees, the Pompeo nomination would be the first nomination for Secretary of State to not be reported favorably to the chamber in the twenty-first century. 

Then along came Senator Christopher Coons. Senator Coons (D-DE), a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, pulled what some are calling a parliamentary “pair.” This is where a member who would vote in the negative votes “present” due to the absence of a member who would vote “yea.” Senator Isakson, who supports Director Pompeo’s nomination, had asked his friend and colleague to pair the vote. His colleague obliged, and the Pompeo nomination was recommended to the full Senate. 

Senator Coons could have easily voted “nay” as he intended (he announced his opposition to the nomination last week) and waited for Senator Isakson to make it to the Dirksen Senate Office Building at around 11 p.m. to vote, but the result was already known. Senator Coons did his friend on the other side of the aisle a favor, and our country witnessed a shining example of what class in politics looks like. 

Boy, we needed it. Whether or not you would like Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State, Senator Coons showed us all what a class act is and that there are more important things than drama-prone politics.

Contact Wil Stowers at [email protected].