Friday, December 31, 2010

Obama's recess appointments and the faux outrage of Republicans

Republicans are outraged -- outraged, they scream at us! -- over President Obama's recess appointments (six on Wednesday alone!). How dare he? Is he a tyrant or something? A Republican president would never ever ever do such a thing. Never ever!

(Ahem... John Bolton... ahem. And, no, I did not scream bloody murder when Bush appointed him. While I vehemently opposed Bolton, I recognized Bush's move as perfectly legal. As you may remember, Bolton was never confirmed and ended up resigning several months after his appointment.)

And, of course, all Republicans care about is bipartisanship. They just want to help out, to work productively with Democrats to get things done. They'd never ever ever act in a partisan way. Never ever!

Or am I to believe that WaPo's "Right Turn" columnist, Jennifer Rubin, is just full of shit?

On Wednesday, Obama shed any pretense of bipartisanship in making six recess appointments. As were his previous recess appointments, this batch included two individuals whose records are so controversial that they could not obtain confirmation even with 59 Democratic senators.

Thankfully, our good friend Steve Benen has taken the time to wade into the muck to set the record straight:

President Obama nominated six qualified officials to fill a variety of executive branch vacancies. These nominations were considered in the respective Senate committees, and approved by committee members. If brought to the floor, each of the six would have been confirmed, most with more than 60 votes. (When Rubin claims they were too "controversial" to "obtain confirmation," this has no relation to reality. She's simply wrong.)

Knowing this, conservative Republicans, who've engaged in obstructionist tactics unseen in American history, placed anonymous holds on the nominees. They could have simply voted against the nominees and urged their colleagues to follow suit, but that wasn't good enough -- Republicans had to shut down the advise-and-consent process altogether.

This, in turn, left the president with a choice: (a) leave the positions vacant until a Senate minority agreed to let the chamber vote up or down; or (b) fill the vacancies with qualified nominees who enjoyed the support of a Senate majority. He wisely chose the latter.

In other words, Rubin is indeed full of shit.

Plain and simple, this is about Republican obstructionism (a partisan effort by the disloyal opposition to prevent Obama from being able to govern effectively), and Obama's response to it, not Democratic partisanship or a presidential abuse of power.

And these supposed Constitution fetishists of the right ought to read the Constitution, along with some history:

Every president since George Washington has used recess appointments; it's a power explicitly given to the president in the Constitution.

Game. Set. Match.


The appointment Rubin most objects to is James Cole as deputy attorney general. She points to his supposed "controversial stance on the War on Terror" as justification for blocking him. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), that loathsome and utterly hypocritical supporter of terrorism, called his appointment "absolutely shocking."


As David Waldman points out at Daily Kos, Cole supports civilian trials for terror suspects. Republicans do not, of course, but Cole's "stance" is hardly all that "controversial," and certainly not so beyond the pale that he doesn't deserve a high-ranking job in the Justice Department -- which, of course, is a political job, and one should expect the person who holds it to have some views that the other side may not agree with. And, again, he was only blocked because a senator put a hold on him, not because he didn't have solid support in the Senate.

Waldman also notes that Cole has targeted political corruption, including among Republicans, most notably Newt Gingrich. But that can't have anything to do with it, right?

Because Republicans are so very honest, so very helpful, so very bipartisan. They say so themselves!!!


Yes, the shit stinks. And there's a lot of it.

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