In a surprising move, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected President Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division on a 52-47 vote today.
The nominee, Debo Adegbile, had stirred up a lot of controversy because during his tenure as president of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, NAACP lawyers portrayed convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal as the victim of racial injustice. So it's not shocking that enough Democrats joined Republicans to kill Adegbile's nomination today. But what has left Senate insiders scratching their heads is Harry Reid's decision to bring the nomination to the floor when he didn't have the votes to confirm Adegbile.
"The most plausible explanation I've heard is that Reid is either incompetent, indifferent, or both," a Senate GOP aide tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "He was probably under a lot of pressure from certain left-wing groups to have the vote, and decided he'd make it somebody else's problem, meaning the rest of his conference. The fact that they called Biden over at the last minute shows they didn't know if they had the votes as of this afternoon. If I'm a Democrat senator, I'm furious at Reid for having to take this vote."
The list of Democrats up for reelection in 2014 who voted for Adegbile includes Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Warner of Virginia, Mark Udall of Colorado, Al Franken of Minnesota, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Why Reid forced them to cast a controversial vote for a failed nominee is anyone's guess.