During his tenure in the Trump administration, Mike Pompeo spent about 15 months as a troubled director of the CIA. This was soon followed by a nearly three-year run at the State Department, leading to a great many assessments that the Kansas Republican was the single worst secretary of state in American history.
Pompeo is nevertheless eyeing the 2024 presidential campaign, hoping to parlay his unfortunate record of failure into a possible White House candidacy.
With this in mind, the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted a cattle call of sorts for likely GOP contenders, and after delivering remarks, Pompeo chatted with Semafor about the political landscape. Shelby Talcott asked the former cabinet secretary, for example, what he considers “the central issues that any Republican should be running” in the next cycle.
He responded by referencing “timeless” values, such as “making sure we don’t teach our kids crap in schools.” Pompeo added:
“I tell the story often — I get asked, ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?’ The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten. It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing.”
Though Pompeo apparently didn’t specify at the time exactly what he considered “crap” and “filth,” in the same interview, the Republican went on to reference The 1619 Project — a New York Times-backed initiative on slavery in the United States and its consequences — as the sort of thing that Pompeo believes will lead to the nation’s “decline.”
It’s at this point that I suspect some readers are asking, “Who’s Randi Weingarten?”
The woman that Pompeo considers to be the world’s single most dangerous person is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest unions for educators. The former secretary of state — who literally negotiated with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and leaders of the Taliban — is apparently convinced that the AFT leader is ruining America’s children, creating an ignorant and unpatriotic generation, promoting “crap” and “filth,” and establishing the conditions necessary to “take this republic down.”
In related news, Pompeo is a difficult man to take seriously.
“He needs to fund his campaign,” Weingarten told Semafor in response. “He doesn’t have a base, so he is trying to get millions from the anti-union, anti-public-education billionaires like Betsy DeVos.”
To be sure, far-right Republicans complaining about teachers’ unions is not altogether new. On the contrary, it’s been a standard move on the right for many years.
But what this latest reporting helps prove is that Pompeo believes the way to raise his national visibility and impress the GOP base is to attack organized groups of school teachers. Unfortunately, he might very well be right.