Political Animal


December 10, 2011 9:55 AM The statute of limitations on nominees’ romances

By Steve Benen

Senate Republicans’ habit of blocking Obama administration nominees for key government posts isn’t exactly new. But the case of Mari Carmen Aponte is a little different than most.

The president gave Aponte a recess appointment in 2010 to serve as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, and now the administration wants her to be formally confirmed to the position, at least through 2012. GOP senators are balking, however, because they don’t like her ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago.

Gail Collins walks us through this farce.

[Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)] claimed the Republicans needed more information on Aponte’s relationship with Roberto Tamayo, a Cuban-American insurance salesman with whom she lived in Washington long ago.

A defecting Cuban intelligence agent claimed in 1993 that Fidel Castro’s spies were trying to recruit Aponte through Tamayo, who had friends at the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington. However, a retired U.S. counterintelligence agent told The Washington Times that Tamayo was, in fact, an informant for the F.B.I.

This sounds like a complicated boyfriend. However, who of us does not have a difficult significant other in the distant past? There has to be a statute of limitations on this sort of thing, and my vote would be for a decade, max.

If investigators had turned up evidence connecting Aponte to the Castro regime, then it would certainly be a legitimate issue. If there was any reason to believe Aponte had shared sensitive intelligence with her ex-boyfriend, obviously it would deserve extensive scrutiny. If there was any reason at all to believe Aponte had performed poorly in her job over the last year, Senate confirmation would deserve to be in doubt.

But none of that is true. She has no connections to the Cuban government; she never shared sensitive intelligence with anyone, and didn’t even have top-secret clearance until after she’d broken up with her ex-boyfriend; and Aponte has already been doing this job extremely well. The Senate should be thanking her and pleading with her to stay on the job.

But that’s not how Republicans operate in 2011.

At this point, it seems almost certain that the GOP minority will kill the Aponte nomination and her appointment will soon expire, sending her home.

The Senate’s descent into madness continues.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on December 10, 2011 10:07 AM:

    If she had MORE baggage, and was a Conservative, she might be the leading Republican Presidential candidate.

    Just take a look in Newt's love closet over the last 15 or so years.

    No, better not!

    I don't think that XXXXL French maid's outfit was for Callista.

    Maybe Newt was role-playing being J. Edgar Hoover in drag, with Rick Santorum on all fours playing the part of Clyde Tolson, 'taking one' for the FBI.

  • Danp on December 10, 2011 10:12 AM:

    What, exactly, is the accusation? That someone tried to recruit her? And the boyfriend is relevant because he knew people who knew people? Does Kevin Bacon fit in here somewhere?

  • Caffiend on December 10, 2011 10:22 AM:

    Polish Sejm. Google it.

    Mr. Captcha says obddre action. Sounds about right to me.

  • DAY on December 10, 2011 10:28 AM:

    South Carolina's Jim DeMint has BLOOD RELATIVES that committed TREASON against the United States of America!
    (assuming, of course, that firing on Fort Sumpter is a treasonable act. . .)

  • SYSPROG on December 10, 2011 10:31 AM:

    Me smells a little 'racism' here...we must forgive NEWT and HERMAN for being whore dogs because they REPENTED but a DEMOCRAT had a CUBAN boyfriend 20 years ago...well we know how THEY repent...

  • stevio on December 10, 2011 10:33 AM:

    Obama: "Jim, why are you such an ass hole?"

  • chi res on December 10, 2011 10:46 AM:

    Obama: "Jim, why are you such an ass hole?"

    Because most people, when asked that question, respond with total reason, quickly seeing the error of their way and doing exactly what you want them to do.

  • chopin on December 10, 2011 11:31 AM:

    Explain to me how the hell you are going to make the case that the government is dysfunctional and needs to be drowned in a bath tub if there are competent people running it?

  • Holmes on December 10, 2011 11:52 AM:

    Steve, could you put together a list of all the people that the Republicans have blocked and/or the nominees who withdrew themselves from consideration after waiting for months(more than a year in some cases) during President Obama's term?

  • c4Logic on December 10, 2011 12:50 PM:

    Don't make the mistake of attributing reason, logic, or consistency to any claim made by any Republican. To be a Republican you must have a criminal mindset, and be deeply, profoundly, shockingly sociopathic.

    If she once went on a date with a teenager who had a red pimple on his ass they would be suggesting she co-mingled with Reds, even as a child. To apply the word absurd to the actions of a Republican is a futile effort. Their every utterance, their every action defines the meaning of absurd. They are a contagious disease, spread through talk radio and Fox news. The plague of Republican wrong minded stupidity and churlishness has now reached pandemic proportions.


  • schtick on December 10, 2011 1:04 PM:

    Oh come on, if she went out with a teenager with a pimple on his ass they would be tossing rose petals for her to walk on because they all would think she went out with Rush.

  • exlibra on December 10, 2011 1:55 PM:

    Polish Sejm. Google it. -- Caffiend, @10:22 AM

    Didn't hafta; it was pounded into us in school :)
    Funny how things are remembered (or forgotten), though... That circus happened in the 18th century, much for the same reasons (too many outside powers with conflicting interests bought themselves too many "representatives", each with an overweening ego). Yet, we're still called "dumb Polacks", more than 200yrs later. Wonder if the American pachyderms will go down in history as "dumb GOPholes".

  • Daddy Love on December 10, 2011 6:22 PM:

    Oh, for cryin' out loud, it has nothing to do with this woman! It's about how "Obama is a socialist." That's all. They don't give a damn about governance anyway, so whatever can be done so that the narrative is coherent, will be.

  • Paurnvab on January 18, 2012 3:42 AM: