Senator Tommy Tuberville’s ongoing blockade of military promotions has united his fellow Republicans around two facts: His actions are wrong, and he might not be all that smart.
Tuberville has blocked nearly 400 military promotions in protest against the Defense Department policy of reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to travel out of state for an abortion. The Pentagon has repeatedly warned that the block harms military readiness, but Tuberville refuses to budge.
But his own words shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Tuberville is racist, multiple Alabama Republicans told Rolling Stone in a report published Friday. Instead, it should be interpreted as a sign that Tuberville is a blockhead.
“I do not believe that Tommy Tuberville is a racist at all,” one of them said, speaking anonymously. “I really believe that maybe he doesn’t have an understanding of the English language.”
An Alabama Republican lobbyist, also speaking anonymously, separately praised Tuberville’s political skills as “very underestimated.”
“It’s his policy skills where the jury is still out,” the lobbyist told Rolling Stone.
Tuberville’s stunt has dragged on so long that other Republican senators have turned on him. They pleaded with him to approve individual promotion nominations Thursday night, taking to the floor to berate him when he tanked 61 nominations.
The most scathing rebukes came from Dan Sullivan, who called Tuberville’s belief that he wasn’t damaging military readiness “ridiculous” and “patently absurd.”
“How dumb can we be, man?” Sullivan demanded.
One of the biggest ironies of the situation is that Tuberville often says he ran for Senate so he could give back to the U.S. just like his father, who served in the military. Instead, Tuberville is single-handedly wreaking havoc on the military—and may have massively embellished his father’s military record.