Accidental Senator Doug Jones apparently has his own version of the You Only Live Once meme. Call it #YOSO — You Only Serve Once. Despite the cover provided by fellow Democrat and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner yesterday, the man who will be the most endangered Senate incumbent in 2020 announced that he will oppose Gina Haspel’s confirmation as CIA director:
Red-state Democratic Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) said Tuesday that he will oppose CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the spy agency.
Jones pointed to Haspel’s role in the George W. Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” programs — now widely viewed as torture — as key to his opposition to her.
“There is a legal and moral responsibility that comes with operating in secrecy. Some of Ms. Haspel’s past actions and beliefs did not meet that standard. We must choose leaders that consistently embody our highest ideals, rather than our darkest moments,” he said in a statement.
Jones added that Haspel’s role is “very troubling.”
At least Jones wasn’t around to cast a vote on John Brennan, who outranked Haspel in those “darkest moments” and yet still managed to get 63 votes for his confirmation. The only three Democrats to vote against Brennan were Pat Leahy, Jeff Merkley, and Bernie Sanders. Others who are opposing Haspel five years later have much to explain in terms of hypocrisy, but not Jones.
However, Jones will still have lots of explaining to do with Alabama voters when his turn comes around in two years. He only occupies that seat because of the epic faceplant by Republicans last year in backing Roy Moore in a special-election primary, and Jones barely beat him despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore, some involving underaged girls. Republicans won’t make the same mistake twice, and Alabama voters will hardly embrace an incumbent who wants to position himself to Mark Warner’s left.
Or, for that matter, Bill Nelson’s:
After receiving the letter, Mr. Warner announced on Tuesday afternoon that he would support her confirmation. Soon after, two other Democrats, Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida, said they, too, would vote for Ms. Haspel.
Heitkamp and Nelson were bright enough to see the opening in a tough election year. That may cost them a little support from the left in November, but probably not much, as activists desperately want to maintain enough of a Democratic presence in the upper chamber to thwart Donald Trump’s agenda.
On the flip side, Doug Jones will undoubtedly get full-throated support of progressives and La Résistance in his next run for the Senate in Alabama for this stunt. That and $5 will get Jones a café latté and 30% of the vote when (if?) Republicans nominate a competent challenger for the seat. Nice knowing you, Senator Jones.