No, this is not a joke. With Janet Napolitano leaving the office of Secretary of Homeland Security at the end of August, the search has been on for her replacement. One of the early candidates to replace her was rumored to be Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the ranking member and former chair of the House Homeland Security Committee. As a black Democrat on the Hill, it should be no surprise that the Congressional Black Caucus initially endorsed him for the position. However, as the earlier link notes, Thompson denied that he was interested in the position, saying:
“I have no interest in serving as Secretary of Homeland Security, nor have I received any communication from the administration regarding my nomination. I remain fully committed to serving the people of the Second District as their Representative in Congress.’’
That is not, of course, a statement that he would not take the position if asked, but it is a strong denial nonetheless.
So, who does the Congressional Black Caucus turn to? Sheila Jackson Lee. The Houston Chronicle explains:
“Representative Jackson Lee would serve as an effective DHS Secretary because she understands the importance of increasing border security and maintaining homeland security,” the nomination letter reads.
Since entering Congress in 1995, Jackson Lee has served on several committees, including Foreign Affairs, Judiciary and Homeland Security, in which she was the Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection.
“As Chairwoman, Representative Jackson Lee supported increased airplane cargo inspections and increased security for railroads, issues of great importance to the security of this nation and its citizens,” the letter continues.
Jackson Lee currently holds the post of Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, a position that the CBC says she “stands as a strong and honest ‘voice of reason.’”
No, this is not a joke. While Jackson Lee's past tendency of making partisan, racist, and/or intellectually questionable statements should be well known to most RedStaters, let's take a little tour down memory lane as we contemplate the kind of person the Congressional Black Caucus wants to be in charge of the Department of Homeland Security.
Back in May of this year, it came to light that Jackson Lee had requested for Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department investigate True the Vote. As Breitbart News notes, this request came right before both the DOJ and the IRS began investigating said group.
In June of 2012, she called the Holder contempt charges over Operation Fast & Furious a "tragic witch hunt", but she didn't end there. As she is wont to do, she played the race card during an interview with Current TV:
“There’s something funny about why (Rep. Darrell Issa) refused to sit down with the general of the United States on an extended basis, as others have done, as this is the first African-American attorney general in the United states of America.”
“Is it because of the uniqueness of the way that this general has fought so hard to overcome voter oppression and suppression?” she continued. “Is it that reason that all of a sudden he becomes the eye of the storm? Not his actions, but just the fact that he has been a vigorous supporter and proponent of justice and equality for all. It smells… Something smells and today it wasn’t a very pretty smell.”
As far as the race card goes, within the past few years alone, she's accused Rush Limbaugh of being racist, which itself is hardly unusual among the Left, but the incoherent and bizarre fashion in which she did it really does need to be seen; she's called a Pepsi Super Bowl ad racist; she's told Martin Bashir that Newt Gingrich was using racist "code words" over his comments labeling Obama as "the food stamp President"; and she's called the debt ceiling battle is racist. Larry Elder has written a great treatment of her continued reliance on spurious charges of racist among Republicans and conservatives.
Her history of making what might be frankly termed "idiotic" statements goes back almost as far as she has been in Congress (she has served since 1995). The National Review noted back in October of 1997: "Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D., Tex.), while visiting Mars Pathfinder Mission Control Center, asked whether the Pathfinder had taken pictures of the American flag planted by Neil Armstrong in 1969." In 2009, she advocated for the same rights for American women that women in countries like Rwanda, China, Algeria, and Afghanistan. In 2010, she spoke of the progress being made in international relations between North and South...Vietnam, and in the same week, she said the following about the Tea Party (which could have easily gone in the "race card" section of this post):
And I thank you professor very much. I’m going to be engaging you with those very powerful numbers that you have offered on what the tea party recognizes, uh, or is recognized as. Might I add my own P.S.? All those who wore sheets a long time ago have now lifted them off and started wearing [applause], uh, clothing, uh, with a name, say, I am part of the tea party.
(EDIT, 3:15pm: I forgot to mention the trouble she had defending Obamacare to Neil Cavuto.)
And lastly, as The Daily Caller reported in 2011, she has a reputation as perhaps the worst boss on Capitol Hill. The article gives as examples (censorship mine):
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas also hands out nicknames to the people who work for her. The Houston Democrat addressed one of her employees as “you stupid m*****f****r.” And not just once, but “constantly,” recalls the staffer, “like, all the time.”
Another Jackson Lee aide recounts the time her parents came to Washington to visit: “They were really excited to come to the congressional office. They’re small town people, so for them it was a huge deal. They were actually sitting in the main lobby waiting area….[Jackson Lee] came out screaming at me over a scheduling change. Called me a ‘stupid idiot. Don’t be a moron, you foolish girl’ and actually did this in front of my parents, of all things.”
Yet another staffer remembers requesting a meeting early on in her tenure to ask how best to serve the congresswoman. Jackson Lee’s response: “What? What did you say to me? Who are you, the Congresswoman? You haven’t been elected. You don’t set up meetings with me! I tell you! You know what? You are the most unprofessional person I have ever met in my life.” With that, Jackson Lee hung up the phone.
According to the same staffer, Jackson Lee “would always say, ‘What am I a prostitute? Am I your prostitute? You can’t prostitute me.’”
And the article goes on and on for seven pages of this. In April of this year, one of her former aides moved forward with a lawsuit against her for failing to accommodate said aide's disability. The Hill reported (emphasis mine, for once):
At two separate points, Jackson Lee allegedly told Floyd, “I don’t care anything about your disability,” and later when asked about making adjustments to accommodate her disability the lawmaker allegedly told her chief of staff, “I don’t give a damn about her disability,” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C.
Floyd, who stopped working for Jackson Lee last fall, is seeking “back and front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs” and is pushing for a trial by jury, according to the suit.
The complaint states that Floyd informed Jackson Lee and her staff on numerous occasions of her vision disability, called “monocular vision, which causes eye fatigue and strain, headaches, reduced speed in reading, reduced concentration and comprehension, and general physical fatigue.”
The disability requires Floyd to take periodic breaks from reading throughout the day. But according to the lawsuit, Jackson Lee did not take appropriate steps to ensure those breaks occurred and to the contrary, piled so much work on Floyd that she often would work seamlessly from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
So, why do I post all of this here? I do not honestly believe that the push to have Sheila Jackson Lee become the next Secretary of Homeland Security will go anywhere outside the halls of whatever corridor of Capitol Hill in which the Congressional Black Caucus convenes itself. Instead, I want to give you some evidence into the kind of person this caucus has deemed worthy of being a member of the President's Cabinet. In fairness, she does occupy the position of Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, and according to the CBC's letter supporting her, "As Chairwoman, Representative Jackson Lee supported increased airplane cargo inspections and increased security for railroads, issues of great importance to the security of this nation and its citizens." Nevertheless, as Rich Cooper of the blog Security Debrief notes:
Apparently, it is not a joke. For reasons that baffle any sense of reality, it is a serious gesture on the part of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to encourage President Obama to nominate Rep. Jackson Lee as a replacement for outgoing-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. In a July 24 letter to the President, CBC Chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) detailed Rep. Jackson Lee’s tenure in Congress, calling her “a strong and honest ‘voice of reason.’”
I have heard Rep. Jackson Lee described by many people as many things, but the words “voice of reason” have never been among those descriptions.
Having watched her Congressional Committee performances for more than a dozen years, dealing with everything from NASA to homeland security issues, the words “wild card” may be the most accurate descriptor as you honest to God never know what she might say or do in a hearing, or for that matter, in any other setting. Her questioning of hearing witnesses of all stripes can at times be described as fierce and even ruthless – and those are on the good days.
The chief qualification Mrs. Jackson Lee appears to have for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security, in the Congressional Black Caucus' eyes, is that she is black. I do not make this charge lightly, but in view of the evidence available, she appears to lack both the temperament or intelligence to be able to competently carry out the duties of a Cabinet Secretary, especially one overseeing a department that concerns the everyday lives of ordinary Americans as much as Homeland Security does. It is worth noting that on April 10 of this year, Bennie Thompson, the same from earlier and also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, criticized Obama for not having enough diversity in his Cabinet. That the Congressional Black Caucus deems this to be a way of remedying this supposed problem is both farcical and shameful. They should be looking beyond the color of one's skin to be the primary qualification for a Cabinet secretary.