No TSA chief for you

NO TSA CHIEF FOR YOU…. Several months ago, President Obama nominated Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert, to head the TSA. Southers is the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence, and the associate director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. Two Senate committees considered the nomination, and easily approved Southers with bipartisan support.

But the Senate hasn’t been able to vote on the nomination — Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina hates unions, and held the nomination hostage, seeking assurances that TSA workers wouldn’t have collective-bargaining rights. As a result, even after the attempted terrorist plot on Christmas, there’s been no progress.

Today, Southers got tired of waiting and decided to give up, saying his nomination was “obstructed by political ideology.”

“I was extremely excited about the opportunity to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and fulfill Secretary [Janet] Napolitano’s objective to develop it into the best organization of its kind in the world,” Southers said in a statement released by the White House on Wednesday. “However, it is apparent that this path has been obstructed by political ideology. I have decided, after deep reflection and in consultation with my family and friends to respectfully withdraw my name from consideration for confirmation as the assistant secretary for the TSA.”

“It is clear that my nomination has become a lightning rod for those who have chosen to push a political agenda at the risk of the safety and security of the American people,” Southers said. “This partisan climate is unacceptable and I refuse to allow myself to remain part of their dialogue. The TSA has important work to be done and I regret I will not be part of their success.”

“Today our national security system lost a skilled law enforcement officer with needed expertise and leadership qualities because of political games — and that is a real shame,” Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said. “I urge my colleagues to more carefully focus on America’s security not partisanship.”

Except, we know that won’t happen. Why focus on Americans’ security when there’s an administration to undermine and a presidency to destroy? What incentive will right-wing senators have to be more responsible now that DeMint has won and Southers has withdrawn?

For those keeping score, the TSA job is one of 177 positions — many seeking to fill key posts relating to the economy, foreign policy, and national security — in which a nomination has been made, but the nominee remains stuck in Senate limbo because Republicans are trying to break the government. And if yesterday’s results in Massachusetts are any indication, their recklessness and puerile behavior will be rewarded by the electorate.