A Mike Pompeo candidacy? Kansas doesn’t need the secretary of state’s kind of swagger

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Sen. Pat Roberts announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Take a look at the potential contenders that could run to replace him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is fussing again about his ambitions for elective office in Kansas.

He’s said he won’t run in 2020. Before making an appearance in Overland Park Monday, though, the former congressman was asked if he would rule out any eventual candidacy in Kansas.

“I try to just avoid ruling things out when there’s others who are in control,” Pompeo said. “The Lord will get me to the right place.”

The Lord works in mysterious ways, of course, so we won’t guess what Secretary Pompeo might hear. Kansans, on the other hand, can send him a message, which is this: Don’t do it.

The secretary’s full-throated endorsement of President Donald Trump’s erratic approach to government would be reason enough for voters to reject a Pompeo candidacy for the U.S. Senate or for governor.

But there are more specific reasons to question a Pompeo candidacy.

He has embraced brutal, oppressive regimes, for example. Last year, Pompeo defended the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia following the gruesome assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“This is a long, historic commitment and one that is absolutely vital to Americans’ national security,” Pompeo said.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that Khashoggi’s murder was likely part of a year-long campaign by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to crush internal dissent through kidnappings, torture and murder. Some ally.

North Korea? Pompeo has declined to publicly assign Kim Jong Un responsibility for the mistreatment and eventual death of American Otto Warmbier, who was arrested in that totalitarian state.

Pompeo’s international standards have been less than consistent. He has sharply criticized human rights abuses in China, Iran and Venezuela, yet those complaints ring hollow when the world considers our warm relations with the Saudis, North Koreans — and Russians. His views have angered Republicans and Democrats.

Pompeo also has defended the president’s trade wars, which have severely hurt Kansas farmers, as we warned they would two years ago. The secretary had the audacity to describe Trump as “deeply free trade,” which bruises the truth.

More fundamentally, Pompeo’s resentment of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy distorts the secretary of state’s world view. In January, Pompeo delivered a speech in Cairo crammed with misstatements and misleading claims that Kansans should find disturbing.

“America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power,” Pompeo said. “We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East.”

That statement ignores history. It also ignores logic. Just minutes earlier, Pompeo told his audience “when America retreats, chaos often follows.”

Perhaps that explains why the United States still has thousands of troops and more than a dozen military bases in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, where America has been engaged in war for almost two decades.

In recent interviews, Secretary Pompeo has boasted of State Department “swagger.” But Kansans are less interested in belligerence than hard-working, humble public servants, those more concerned with the public good than personal ambition.

After two years in the Trump administration, Secretary Pompeo remains the tea party Republican he has always been, similar in many ways to former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kansas ultimately rejected Kobach in 2018 and could render a similar judgment about Mike Pompeo if he decides to run.

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