To find a strategy against the Islamic State, the most vital country may be Turkey. There is no American ambassador in Turkey.
Any strategy will be partly funded by the United Arab Emirates. There is no American ambassador there.
The most immediate nuclear threat in the world comes from Korea. There is no U.S. ambassador in Korea.
In each case, ambassadors have been nominated, and Senate Republicans have blocked a confirmation vote because they’re angry at President Obama and Senate Democrats.
There is an endless list of things Congress isn’t doing, and most of them are pretty hard. Immigration reform is tough. Fixing Social Security and Medicare would be challenging. Devising a new transportation package would take some time.
It should not be that hard to take votes on confirming ambassadors. For years, before the Capitol atmosphere became more poisonous than mustard gas, the Senate used to confirm ambassadors in bunches. Republicans don’t have objections to the particular nominees, they’re just in an extended sulk.
Still, in the current atmosphere, maybe doing their constitutional duty of voting on presidential nominees is still too difficult.
But there’s one thing that Senate Republicans could absolutely do:
Stop talking about the great threat posed by the Islamic State if you won’t confirm an ambassador to Turkey.
NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV 9/27/14.