Tommy Tuberville is as two-faced with the military as he was as a coach and recruiter. As a senator, his list of accomplishments reads like the list of demands from an 80s B-movie.
He’s made it his mission to defend white nationalists while pretending not to know what a white nationalist is. That’s just about the only constituency Tuberville has supported so steadfastly.
Tuberville is just as dishonest as a senator to his voters as he was with recruits he was trying to secure commitments from. According to the Washington Post, he’s even backtracked on his pledge to donate his annual Senate salary of $174,000 a year to the military. Additionally, the American Institute of Philanthropy watchdog found the Tommy Tuberville Foundation to be an accountability black hole.
One of Tuberville’s central issues as a senator has been veterans and the military. The only signals he’s stayed true to those promises are his official committee assignments with the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Armed Services Committees. His actions say the opposite. For Tuberville, the military is a bargaining chip.
In his latest attempt to be a gnat to the Biden administration, Tuberville has taken it upon himself to hold the military hostage by refusing to allow the Senate a vote on a backlog of hundreds of military nominations and promotions. Tuberville hasn’t introduced legislation, he’s just left it to his colleagues to figure out the quandary he created.
Since the Pentagon announced its policy in February ensuring all American troops would have access to reproductive healthcare following the reversal of Roe v. Wade’s precedent, Tuberville has declared war on the military for a policy that attempts to give enlisted an avenue to take care of their own healthcare needs.
The Pentagon’s memo Tuberville has taken issue with doesn’t even include funding for abortions. It’s a policy that’s consistent with federal law that merely gives troops up to three weeks of administrative leave and provides support for travel to other states to receive reproductive care, including in vitro and pregnancy aides that aren’t available locally. Tuberville’s reputation as a coach is as much about the individuals he screwed over as it was about the fans he disappointed. As a coach, he blamed coaches, and coordinators for his messes. Sound familiar, Mitch McConnell? As a senator, he’s putting the military in the crosshairs and blaming the military for making him do it.
As a coach, Tuberville was the classic snake-tongued recruiter who would turn on programs, players, and his own assistants in an instant to serve his own self-interests. Famously, Tuberville snuck out of dinner with Texas Tech recruits on a Friday night to accept the head coaching job at Cincinnati. Tuberville sucked as much as a tactician as he does as a legislator. His current abortion stance is alienating him from even the most extreme MAGA Republicans.
His ongoing stunt has opened the door for a vote to reverse the policy in the upcoming annual defense policy bill, but won’t pass because it needs 60 votes. Even then, Tuberville has vowed to keep his blockade going. It’s not exactly clear whose interests Tuberville is looking out for with his meretricious stance aside from those who derive pleasure from harming a select group of women in the military. Targeted pain is a common GOP negotiating tactic we’ve seen before.
However, risking national defense for a policy that’s only applied to fewer than 100 women between 2016 and 2021 illustrates just how irresponsible he is. If this is Tuberville’s way of serving as a caretaker for the military, he’ll end his first term with the military in as much ruin as the schools he left.
Let’s not act like Alabama voted him in for his legislative acumen. Tuberville’s 13-0 season is regarded as his finest coaching moment, but he was fired by Auburn after a 5-7 campaign, which the voters conveniently forgot. Following in Mike Leach’s footsteps, Tuberville abandoned Texas Tech after going 20-17 in three seasons at the helm. Tuberville then took the reins of a Cincinnati program that had a 20-6 record between 2011 and 2012, then drove them into a ditch. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Tuberville is heading towards a similar fate, this time he’s taking the military down with him.