The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, January 16, 2005
That John Tower nomination fight
John Tower I've noted as the first US Senator from the Confederacy since Jeter Pritchard of Tennessee (January 12).
Tower is also notable (not that it had stuck in my puny brain) for a knock-down, drag-out nomination fight in 1989 for Secretary of Defense that Daddy George Bush lost.
I come to it through a piece on Keith Poole's site  detailing John Kerry's Voting Record.
It's pretty useless for the 99th and 100th because the relevant materials aren't there in THOMAS. So I mosey over to the 101st page on which, after a whole bunch of more or less unanimous confirmations - including (RC 19) anti-Christ Thomas Pickering as UN Ambassador - we get to Tower (RC 20), who was rejected 53-47 .
Tower's confirmation was a whole big deal; it seems that his problem was cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women - mostly, the second - according to a Texas Observer piece
In humiliating testimony during his confirmation hearings, however, it emerged that Senator Tower had been drunk for most of his tenure in the United States Senate, and was not a good bet for keeping the nuclear peace. Moreover, he liked to dress up in a Superman costume and frequent Capitol Hill bars, where he lunged at the ladies .
(The fact that highest body of lawmakers in the land had previously clasped the randy old piss-artist to its bosom for nigh on fourteen years is not to be wondered at. Ol' Strom Thurmond lasted nigh on fifty!)
He wasn't a nice guy (as if that was a requirement of office!), according to a 2001 Ken Rudin piece :
It would be an understatement to say that Tower, who did not seek reelection in 1984, was not the most likable senator in the joint. He was often perceived as a bully who would rather knock some heads than charm fellow senators to win over their votes.
And he liked defence contractors  - as a political consultant , his gig after leaving the Senate and whitewashing Reagan over Iran-Contra (Tower timeline).
There is a spooky six degrees connection with John Kerry - Tower was killed in a plane crash in Georgia on April 5 1991; John Heinz was killed in a plane crash in Pennsylvania - the day before! It's a conspiracy theorist's wet dream.
The list of Senate rejections of Cabinet nominations is a select one - headed by no less than Roger Taney, future Chief Justice. Apart from Tower, the only nominations to be rejected in the 20th century were Charles B Warren, Coolidge's pick as Attorney-General in 1925, and Lewis L Strauss, Eisenhower's for Commerce in 1959 .
Strauss, apparently, was the nemesis of Robert Oppenheimer at the Atomic Energy Commission, but his
arrogance and his insistence that he was always right made him unpopular on Capitol Hill.
Stupid idea to nominate him for Commerce Secretary, then.
Strauss perjured himself during the confirmation hearings - but strangely did not go the way of Alger Hiss.
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