On Thursday, during the confirmation hearing for the presumed next leader of the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, a pair of jokers in movie monster masks decided to drop by.
Though the “protestors” were few, their banal, little outburst has successfully stolen most of the attention away from Bernhardt’s confirmation — of course, that in and of itself is extremely telling.
Because We’re in a Swamp! Get It? A Swamp!
As David Bernhardt sat down for a confrontational Senate hearing, eyes immediately became drawn not to the longtime oilman, but to an individual dressed in a mask ripped from a Creature from the Black Lagoon film (or The Shape of Water if you’re under forty).
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) March 28, 2019
The allusion to Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to drain the Washington, DC swamp of its corruption was clear. The connection to Bernhardt was also direct. Since the former lobbyist took over the Interior Department for former Secretary Ryan Zinke, he’s been continuously attacked for his perceived connection to the oil and gas industry.
So, a swamp creature to photobomb a swamp creature. Hilarious. Or it would be if the protest in question wasn’t so off base.
Attacking a Trump Nominee Because He’s a Trump Nominee
Let’s be clear, here. In today’s wildly divided Washington, a horde of people would have lined up to take their shots at any nominee Donald Trump put forth. It was just a matter of finding the right tactics. In Bernhardt’s case, he spent time working as a lobbyist when he wasn’t putting in time for a previous presidential administration.
In fact, committee Chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski raved about Bernhardt’s competence and knowledge, calling his level of experience “unparalleled.”
So, yes, David Bernhardt has spent time in Washington, DC working as a lobbyist. Apparently, that’s enough to immediately qualify Bernhardt as lacking a sense of ethics. The potential Interior Secretary also has years of experience working in the Interior Department during the Presidency of George W. Bush. In the eyes of Bernhardt’s opponents, “years of experience” translates to “agency insider,” which, when we’re talking about the American government, fails to amount to much of an insult.
The point is, the attack was coming. The real test would be Bernhardt’s handling of the assault.
Ethical Pursuit at a Higher Level
There’s a reason that Bernhardt’s opponents and the leftist media at large are placing so much importance on his career and this minute protest of his confirmation hearing: Bernhardt acquitted himself like a total pro.
Throughout the hearing, Bernhardt reminded the panel of his love of the outdoors, of his affection for nature, all while explaining an ambitious campaign to overhaul the Interior Department. Bernhardt’s particular focus: ethics.
“The reality is that the ethics program throughout the Department of the Interior has been sadly neglected for some time,” he wrote in a prepared statement.
Add to that the announcement that Acting Secretary Bernhardt launched, “the most comprehensive public lands management legislation in a decade” in supporting the solidification of the Dingell Act.
An overarching commitment to ethics and on-the-books examples of his zeal for conservation aren’t enough to convince Bernhardt’s opponents that he’s on the level. They insist on avoiding the obvious with explorations of his past and jokes about the swamp.