President Trump’s plan to turn the Federal Reserve Board into a right-wing-cable-show alumni society is hitting a snag as four Senate Republicans have signaled opposition to former presidential candidate Herman Cain, before any formal nomination has been made, according to the Washington Post:
A strong ally of the president, Sen. Kevin Cramer (N.D.), on Thursday joined three other Republicans — Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Cory Gardner (Colo.) — in announcing opposition to Cain’s appointment to the Fed. Republicans control 53 votes in the 100-seat Senate, and losing the support of four members means Cain would need help from Democrats, which appears unlikely.
As my colleague Jonathan Chait noted recently, there had already been reports that the White House might jettison Cain in order to save another equally unlikely Fed appointment, that of Stephen Moore:
Faced with the prospect of attempting to confirm two absurdly unqualified cranks for esteemed Fed positions, the conservative movement has undertaken a triage operation, focusing its defenses on Moore and leaving Cain to twist in the wind. The decision to save Moore at Cain’s expense makes some sense: Of the two, Cain’s kookery was on more colorful display through his slapstick 2012 presidential campaign. Cain’s treatment of women (numerous sexual-harassment lawsuits) is harder to defend than Moore’s (open adultery followed by failure to pay child support.)
The idea is that Republican senators might buck Trump on one nomination, but hardly two.
It’s possible this speculation is all wrong and that Trump will go to the mat for the former Godfather’s Pizza executive, who had an active career as a right-wing talk-radio gabber in Atlanta before he went national with a 2012 presidential campaign. Even if it fails, a fight over Cain would be a useful credential for Trump’s extremely slim claims of interest in promoting African-American representation in high federal offices.
More likely than not, though, Cain’s proto-nomination is toast; there are late-breaking reports that he will withdraw his candidacy for the post, relieving the president of the responsibility for pulling the plug.
We’ll now have to see if Trump follows up with another poorly qualified media figure, or lets Moore stand alone as a testament to his belief that talking on television is the only relevant qualification for any position, from president on down.