The Senate today by a 52-47 vote rejected President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division, with seven Democrats joining Republicans against the nominee because of his defense of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Democrats voting to block the nomination were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, John Walsh of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Chris Coons of Delaware. Coons, Pryor, and Walsh all face re-election this year.
Obama, in a statement, was hopping mad:
The Senate’s failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant. Mr. Adegbile’s qualifications are impeccable. He represents the best of the legal profession, with wide-ranging experience, and the deep respect of those with whom he has worked . . .
And now, Washington politics have used the rules against him. The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice – and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant.
But law enforcement officials, Republicans and the widow of Philadelphia police office Daniel Faulkner, whom Abu-Jamal killed in 1981, waged a campaign against Adegbile because of his work with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filing briefs and appeals on Abu-Jamal’s behalf.
Obama’s statement was no doubt less vitriolic than it might have been, given that the rejection was bipartisan.
But this was still the usual hubris, presuming that opposition to the Will of Obama cannot be based on logic and must be political or something worse. Such a statement is strikingly unpresidential, and, for Obama, entirely unsurprising.