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Kansas stripes for Pompeo deeply conservative E-mail
Opinion
Thursday, 22 March 2018 10:34

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Topeka Capital-Journal
March 18

The trajectory of Mike Pompeo on the political stage is not so much the story of a Kansan who made good as it is an ambitious businessman who made the most of the ties he formed in the state.
The background of Pompeo, born and raised in Southern California, is impressive. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduated first in his class with a degree in mechanical engineering, served five years of active duty in the Army and rose to the rank of captain as a cavalry officer in East Germany. He later was accepted to Harvard Law School and was editor of the Harvard Law Review.
His link to Kansas was through his mother, Dorothy, a native of the state. Pompeo moved to Wichita, the hometown of his wife, Susan, and was instrumental in the growth of two businesses. He became involved in the community, taught Sunday school and eventually rode the Tea Party movement into Washington. He was elected to three terms in the House of Representatives beginning in 2010.
One of the biggest influences for Pompeo has been Charles and David Koch, the Wichita siblings who built Koch Industries and funneled considerable money into the campaigns Pompeo ran to jump-start his political career. He was confirmed as CIA director following his nomination by Donald Trump shortly after the president’s election in November 2016.
Now, with Pompeo next in line to become secretary of state following Trump’s decision to oust Rex Tillerson, the transplanted Wichitan will serve a lead role in the administration. In his position as top diplomat, Pompeo not only must engage allies and enemies, but also soothe Trump’s temperament. The backing Pompeo has from the Koch brothers suggests Trump will listen to Pompeo, which could bring a needed level of stability to the White House as well as a method for advancing the Kochs’ conservative agenda.
As a hawk, Pompeo strongly opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and was praised Tuesday by Trump for sharing the same sentiment as the president that the agreement forged by the Obama administration was “terrible.?
First, however, the administration’s attention is thrust on Trump’s upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo’s capability as an adviser in those talks will be key to any details that are worked out and cut through bluster that has persisted leading up to the surprising summit. A better relationship with Trump, at least than that of Tillerson, could actually work in favor of a peaceful agreement between the two bickering leaders of the United States and North Korea.
At least that’s a hopeful viewpoint.
A contentious confirmation hearing is expected for Pompeo before the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Rand Paul of Kentucky became the first Republican senator to say he will oppose Pompeo, in part because the secretary of state nominee has supported using torture to interrogate enemy combatants and suspected terrorists. Paul also voted not to confirm Pompeo as CIA director in 2017.
Whatever the outcome, the political path for Pompeo has grown bumpier, yet more substantial.
Do his ties to Kansas matter? Well, he and his wife regularly returned to Wichita during Pompeo’s three House terms and were quick to call the city their home, not Washington, while cheering on Wichita State’s basketball fortunes and involving themselves in civic activities.
Wichita also happens to be where the Koch brothers conduct their business and played an influential role in the rise of Mike Pompeo. That connection, and the deeply conservative influence it carries, figures to strengthen even more if Pompeo is affirmed as secretary of state.

 

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