Friday, February 12, 2010

Can't Get Right

Ezra Klein agrees with me that the "win" over the holds on President Obama's nominees wasn't really a win at all and was yet another case of them hurting their own efforts.

Working backward, why not make recess appointments this recess? The administration remains terribly understaffed. Senate Republicans have slapped a historic number of holds on Obama's nominees, and Richard Shelby's effort to hold all of Obama's pending nominees as part of a multibillion-dollar shakedown made Nelson's Medicaid deal look like petty theft. What was the danger, then, of making recess appointments? That it would lead to a fight over Republican obstruction that the administration might actually win?

Worse, why explain the recess appointment as some sort of emergency measure? At what point does the administration accept that its success is dependent on finding ways to avoid being filibustered? Reconciliation can't be considered a nuclear option and recess appointments can't be saved for special cases. George W. Bush understood this and used reconciliation and recess appointments routinely in his first year. That meant it was no story when he used the processes for his next seven years. Obama is making the very consideration of these measures a story, which means any decision to actually use them will be a big deal and will make the president look like a bare-knuckle partisan.

This time the media and public opinion was on the administration's side on recess appointments, especially after Senator Shelby had put that blanket hold on all of the nominees just to try to get an earmark pushed through. But you wait and see the outcry if President Obama should ever try to do some recess appointments in the future. And guess what, it will all be their own fault.

This is getting to be quite disheartening.

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