Amazing. I am reading conservative bloggers and columnists blaming Andrew Puzder’s withdrawal as the Labor Secretary nominee on an outrageous Democratic Party hit job. This is the mirror image of Democrats and their news media describing every move by the President as a threat to the solar system. Why would anyone believe these conservatives when their charges are reasonable and justified, if they call something like this an outrage?
Puzder was one of President Trump’s worst and most indefensible nominations, running in a dead heat with Ben Carson at HUD (unqualified, and an apparent idiot); and Rick Perry at Energy (appointing someone who wants to get rid of the agency he will be heading when he couldn’t even remember the name of the agency on live TV). His nomination is also the most glaring example yet of incompetent and lazy vetting, as well as insensitivity to obvious problems, and why the President desperately needs a pro, and adult, and a competent manager as Chief of Staff.
No, Puzder wasn’t forced to withdraw “just” because of his employment of an undocumented immigrant as his housekeeper. To be clear, however, that alone would have been sufficient to disqualify him to serve in this administration, which has made enforcement of immigration laws a centerpiece of its philosophy.
There was a lot more wrong with Puzder, however. President Trump had promised to protect working-class Americans, and Puzder has been an advocate for management, not labor. Democrats find him unacceptable because he opposes increases in the minimum wage (while they want extreme increases that will lose jobs and put small businesses in bankruptcy), but the job does require a more balanced approach than Puzder seemed to be likely to take. As the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains, he also had serious conflict of interest problems—almost as many as the President.
The high-profile spousal abuse allegations against him, however, would also disqualify Puzder all by themselves. Puzder’s ex-wife Lisa Fierstein, appearing on an Oprah segment titled “High Class Battered Women,” said that he once told her, “I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this.” Fierstein also said she called the police when he beat her, explaining her abuse to Winfrey as she appeared in disguise as “Ann” in a 1990 video. Oprah herself made sure Democrats and the news media (but I repeat myself) had the tape in hand as ammunition against the nominee.
Puzder denied the accusations, and eight months after appearing on “Oprah,” Fierstein retracted tale of domestic abuse as part of a child custody agreement. Then she said repeatedly that the allegations were a tactic to gain leverage in her divorce. (Nice ethics there, Linda, whatever the truth is.) But this does nothing to alter the perception that Puzder might be a spousal abuser. The President, unapologetic misogynist that he is, still can not allow anyone with that shadow over him to serve in the administration. Puzder should have told the President about the issue, and Trump’s staff should have discovered it if they were doing their jobs properly. If Puzder did reveal the controversy, that should have ended his chances of a getting the nomination. If he didn’t, then the President should have pulled the nomination. Maybe he did.
Democrats were absolutely right to seek this nominee’s defeat. Conservatives make themselves look foolish, insensitive, dumb and dishonest by claiming otherwise.