Why Republicans Hate Thomas Perez

We’ll all need to buckle up in preparation for some dramatic and historical confrontations in the coming weeks.  No, we’re not talking about college basketball’s “March Madness”  (Go UCLA!)  We’re talking about the confirmation hearings of Thomas Perez, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Labor.  By all accounts, the Republicans plan to use a full-court press to kill his nomination.

So why is the Republican Party opposed to Perez’s appointment?  Basically, it boils down to two reasons:  (1)  Because Perez is unabashedly pro-worker, pro-union, pro-immigrant, and pro-civil rights; and (2)  because Obama nominated him.

As to the first reason, Perez’s record as head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (since 2009) is going to raise some concerns.  Among other things, while at the DOJ, Perez (the Harvard-educated son of Dominican Republic immigrants) fought against unfair mortgage lending, supported the working rights of the nation’s veterans (many of whom are minorities), and went after bad cops and discriminatory immigration practices with a vengeance.

According to those who know him best, Perez rejoices in fighting for people who don’t have the resources to fight for themselves.  Going to bat for the underdog is both noble and commendable—in many ways, a uniquely American endeavor.  While most of us would consider such a person a “humanitarian,” many Republican senators consider such a person a “trouble-maker.”  And yet, with a straight face, they continue to refer to liberals as “elitists.”  Go figure.

Their second reason is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s initial reluctance to sign a treaty with the USSR.  Reagan feared that any agreement the Soviets “liked” had to be one that was bad for America.  And the same goes for the president’s nominee:  If Obama likes somebody, there must be something wrong with him. In truth, this knee-jerk opposition transcends ideology.  Senate Republicans will try to torpedo Obama’s nominees just to mess with him.  Recall Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense.

Even though Hagel was a former Republican senator himself, as well as a decorated combat vet, John McCain and Lindsay Graham used the hearings to brutally attack him and embarrass the president.  Their beef?  Hagel had previously criticized the Iraq “surge” tactic, and had implied that the Israeli lobby was powerful.  McCain and Graham’s naked hypocrisy was insufferable.  If there were any justice in the world, the master-at-arms would’ve grabbed a bullwhip and publicly flogged both men.

No one can say whether or not Perez will be confirmed, but one thing is certain:  He will not be candid.  Perez will not risk further alienating the opposition by expressing his true feelings about labor unions.  He will not praise organized labor’s role in U.S. history, he will not lament the sharp decline in union membership (now at a pitiful 11.3-percent), and he will not draw attention to the obvious correlation between union membership and a healthy middle-class.

In order to avoid being “Borked,” Perez will adopt the “Souter” defense.  He will go intellectually limp.  He will give a whole new meaning to the term “vague.”  He will speak in generalities so broad and vacuous, no one will have a clue what he’s talking about, and when confronted with a direct and unavoidably controversial question, observers will fear he’s lapsed into a fugue-like state.

We’d all like to believe that Perez will take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to publicly defend the American labor movement, and issue a resounding and bitter indictment of the anti-labor forces attempting to undermine it, but that’s not going to happen.  With circumspection the order of the day, organized labor will miss yet another opportunity to have its case presented by someone who knows what he’s talking about.

David Macaray, CounterPunch’s labor correspondent, is a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd Edition). He was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South