TUCKER: Beware the Swamp

The clarion call of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was “Drain the Swamp.” Trump was met with that refrain at rallies across the country as his supporters chanted those three words relentlessly.

Candidate Trump may have drawn his inspiration from President Reagan who, nearly four decades ago, called for “draining the bureaucratic swamp in Washington.” Unfortunately, today, the swamp is deeper and more powerful than ever. And the American people have less trust in Washington than ever.

A dominant characteristic of the swamp is its ability to stop ‘outsiders’ — like President Trump — dead in their tracks. An ongoing example of this is Trump’s fight to appoint conservative judges.

The bitter fight over the Kavanaugh nomination saw the opposition hurl the full weight of political correctness against the nomination in what became a highly partisan battle with little regard for truth. We are seeing the same battle over Trump’s nomination of North Carolinian Tom Farr to the Federal District Court bench.

Television commentator Brit Hume recently commented, “The term ‘racist’ is one of the worst things you can say about someone and it has been weaponized and widely used where clearly it does not apply.” Hume warned the media “to stop flinging the term ‘racist’ around indiscriminately. “

Tom Farr, an outstanding conservative attorney, was nominated by President Trump in 2017. His nomination appeared to be heading for Senate approval along strictly partisan lines in the fall of 2018 when the Washington Democrats struck back in typical political fashion, branding Farr as a racist based on false claims about his role in Jesse Helms’ 1984 and 1990 Senate re-election campaigns. The sad fact is the Democrats’ diatribe worked. Last fall, after announcing he was going to vote for Tom Farr’s nomination, Republican Senator Tim Scott about-faced and opposed Farr.

In a Senate with 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats the vote to confirm Tom Farr was cancelled.

And the swamp won.

Republicans now have a larger (53 to 47) majority in the Senate, but Tom Farr has not been renominated and confirmed. Tim Scott still says no. The question is what will Thom Tillis, who serves on the crucial Senate Judiciary Committee, do? Will Senator Tillis stand up and fight for Tom Farr’s renomination in the face of Tim Scott’s opposition? Or will insider politics rule the day?

The signs have not been encouraging.

A month ago, Senator Tillis told the News & Observer (1/9/19) that “he was still looking into whether he would have Farr, who has long-standing ties to Republicans in the state, renominated.”

At the end of January Tillis told the News & Observer, (1/30/19) “he was still looking into whether Farr had a path to confirmation in the Senate.” That sounded more like a Washington Insider hedging than a Senator girding for a fight on principle.

My personal knowledge of Tom Farr — and the facts — convince me that Farr is a competent conservative and should be confirmed. If the swamp is ever to be drained, Republicans are going to have to develop the backbone to push back. Too often “Mugwump” Republicans have retreated back into the Establishment. Washington politicians don’t ask themselves, What’s the right thing to do? — then say, Let’s do it. And forget the politics. Instead, with their fingers to the political winds they broker backroom deals.

Standing up to smear tactics is right. If Tom Farr is confirmed it will be a conservative victory over the swamp.

There is virtue in standing up and fighting for what’s right — even if you lose.

Santon Evans once warned that all too often would-be conservatives “come to Washington to drain the swamp, but they discover instead that the swamp is a hot tub.”

Senator Tillis needs to get out of the hot tub and lead the charge for Tom Farr.

Garland S. Tucker III, Retired Chairman/CEO of Triangle Capital Corporation and author of Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Changed America — Jefferson to Reagan.