Sen. Brownback, the conservative Senator from Kansas, has made his position very clear when it comes to the right of the President to get a simple vote on his nominees:
“All of the president’s nominees—both now and in the future—deserve a fair up or down vote, regardless of whether some members of the Senate feel they can be filibustered based on whatever they define to be extraordinary circumstances.” (Official Statement)
He made this comment in the context of discussion on judicial nominees. But he didn't say that only judicial nominees deserved a vote - he said all nominees deserved a vote.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? There's no ambiguity or nuance in that statement. So why in the world has Sen. Brownback placed a hold on a Bush's nominee? Why would he prevent an up or down vote that he so clearly stated every nominee deserves?
The nominee in question here is Julie Finley. She's been nominated for the position of ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE is an organization of 55 member nations that focuses on security - including arms control, human rights, democratization, counter-terrorism, and economic and environmental issues.
Julie Finley is eminently qualified for this position. She's now the Trustee and Treasurer for the National Endowment for Democracy. She's also the Chairman of the Project on Transitional Democracies. She serves as Advisory Council Member for the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Brookings Institution, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. She was a Founder and Board Member of the U.S. Committee on NATO, which was established in 1996 as a bipartisan citizen’s initiative to support NATO enlargement. Surely, she's qualified.
So why is Senator Brownback abandoning principle, acting against his committed stand of giving every nominee an up or down vote? Why has he suddenly become a relativist - saying that whether or not nominees deserve a vote is relative?
Julie Finley is pro-choice.
No matter that abortion isn't an issue for the OSCE. Nope, it just doesn't matter that her opinions on abortion have no relevance to the ambassadorship. Brownback doesn't like her ideology and that's enough for him to block a vote. Of course, ideology has been dismissed as a valid reason to block a vote on a judicial nominee - but again, that relativistic approach comes to the fore and ideology is apparently a perfectly good reason to block this vote.
You know what this means? No pro-choice women in any office requiring Senate confirmation. None. Now, a third of pro-choice women voted for Bush. Julie Finley was a major fundraiser for him. But that doesn't matter.
If you want Senate confirmation, you better cede control over your own body. You better endorse a ban on abortion, no matter if your health is at risk. You better click your heels when the ideological police show up. And you better not be surprised when the Republicans abandon principle to target you because you won't abandon yours. It's their way. It's not principled, of course. But that's relative.