Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 28, 2010

OBAMA'S RESPONSE TO SCANDALOUS OBSTRUCTIONISM.... It's not like Senate Republicans gave President Obama much of a choice.

The White House has sent dozens of qualified nominees to the Senate for key government posts. If given up-or-down votes, the nominees would be confirmed, so Republicans have blocked votes at a rate unseen in American history. Consider: at this point in Bush's presidency, there were five nominees pending on the Senate floor. For Obama, the number is 77.

The president had to decide whether to tolerate GOP obstructionism undermining the government's ability to function. Obama made his perspective quite clear yesterday afternoon.

President Obama, making a muscular show of his executive authority just one day after Congress left for spring recess, said Saturday that he would bypass the Senate and install 15 appointees, including a union lawyer whose nomination to the National Labor Relations Board was blocked last month with the help of two Democrats.

Coming on the heels of Mr. Obama's big victory on health care legislation, Saturday's move suggests a newly emboldened president who is unafraid to provoke a confrontation with the minority party.

Just two days ago, all 41 Senate Republicans sent Mr. Obama a letter urging him not to appoint the union lawyer, Craig Becker, during the recess. Mr. Obama's action, in defiance of the Republicans, was hailed by union leaders, but it also seemed certain to intensify the partisan rancor that has enveloped Washington.

"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disprove of my nominees," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis."

The full list of nominees to receive recess appointments is online here. On average, the 15 nominees have waited seven months for an up-or-down vote, but Republicans have blocked them all, knowing that the will of the Senate would lead to their confirmation. This was the first time Obama has made use of this power

The president said in a statement, "I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government."

It's worth fully appreciating the extent to which the president's move reflects deep animosity. Kevin Drum explained the context of the National Labor Relations Board move, in particular.

Years ago, after Republicans filibustered a Carter nominee to the NLRB, the two parties made a deal: the board would have three appointees from the president's party and two from the other party. So after he took office Obama nominated two Democrats and one Republican to fill the NLRB's three vacant seats and got support from a couple of Republicans on the HELP committee for the entire slate. But when it got to the Senate floor John McCain put a hold on Becker, and his nomination -- along with the others -- died.

Fast forward to today and Obama finally decides to fill the board using recess appointments. But what does he do? He only appoints the two Democrats. This is not what you do if you're trying to make nice. It's what you do if you're playing hardball and you want to send a pointed message to the GOP caucus. You won't act on my nominees? Fine. I'll appoint my guys and then leave it up to you to round up 50 votes in the Senate for yours. Have fun.

Again, the patient president seemed reluctant to go down this road, but petty Republicans just kept pushing. Yesterday, Obama pushed back.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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as aggravated as i may be with alot of what obama's done, i looooooooved reading this. and esp sweet that it was that asshole mccain who put the hold on. god, i hope the dems reciprocate and vote no on the republican nominee.

damn, st johnnie is stepping in it all over the place. what a way to go out. hahahaha.

Posted by: bkny on March 28, 2010 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

"The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disprove of my nominees," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

That's exactly right. They don't have to approve his nominees, but they should vote on them, one way or the other. Bush just used the process to avoid losing votes on controversial nominees.

Posted by: N.Wells on March 28, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

I was thrilled to see these recess appointments. The first thing that came to mind was the recess appointment by President Bush of John Bolton. The Republicans don't have a leg to stand on. As always, the thread that runs through all of their nonsense is hypocrisy.

Bottom line, the Republicans just don't want President Obama and the Democrats to govern. During the presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama said he wanted to make government cool again. He felt government could be smart and efficient without being intrusive. This idea terrifies the Republicans.

President Ronald Reagan said it all:

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Posted by: Ladyhawke on March 28, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever it takes, that second GOP seat on the NLRB needs to remain vacant for a good, long time---just to allow a full-speed-ahead clearing of the backlog.

Next, Mr. Obama needs to do some wholesale house-cleaning on those other pending nomination. He, as well as I and all the rest of us, knows full well that the GOP will strive to shut everything down now, so he may as well get everyone into their places.

Beyond this, the time has just about arrived where the Senate needs to declare itself "no longer duly bound" to the antiquarian rules that were created by the Founders who, in their just and proper ways, never imagined the pure evil that the Republikanner Beast has become; an evil that would have made George Rex III seem the ultimate proponent of representative democracy....

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 28, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

-Keep this up, Mr. P, and you're gonna need to buy a bigger jockstrap. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 28, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Can a motion be raised to require appropriate dress ?
If the Party of George the third is going to make a run in modern politics , eschewing any of the advances made in the 200 or so years or since the gentle touch of his rule was inexplicably removed , it would be a bit more palpable to the sensitive sorts in the wide open Tea Baggeur contingent to have visible accouterments of the period they yearn so earnestly for . Sensitive , but lacking imagination , the semiotics including costumes and wigs would improve a Tea Baggeurs cognitive processing measurably , one hopes !

Posted by: FRP on March 28, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Bottom line, the Republicans just don't want President Obama and the Democrats to govern. ...
Posted by: Ladyhawke on March 28, 2010 at 8:16 AM "

I agree with that sentiment, but I think that the Rs, realizing they are definitely stuck with Obama and the Ds governing until the next Congress (convening Jan 2011), and probably stuck with Obama and the Ds governing until Jan 2013. Because of that, I think the Rs figure the best thing for them is to make it appear that Obama and the Ds govern poorly, while using their propaganda methods to intimate (falsely) that the majority of the country opposes Obama and the Ds efforts to govern.

It is all the Rs have. The large majority of the country knows the Rs certainly ARE NOT capable of governing, even when the Rs control majorities in both houses of Congress, or the presidency, or all three, without even considering the judicial branch of government.

Posted by: Bill on March 28, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

1. Remember that the Republicans reneged on a deal to approve Becker along with the nominees for the other 2 vacancies. By not recess appointing the Republicans' nominee, Obama is (a) showing them that there's a downside to them here and (b) leaving their appointee to be negotiated as part of a future deal to get nominees confirmed. However, the Republicans probably don't care about their nominee at this point--with or without their nominee, they will only have a minority on the NLRB.

2. Smartly, Obama surrounded the Becker appointment with a dozen other appointments in financial and national security positions. This way, the story is less about Becker and instead becomes more about the overall Republican destructive obstruction.

Posted by: DRF on March 28, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bill, something you said struck a chord with me. "It's all the Republicans have."

I've seen those exact words typed here [and at The Carpetbagger Report] weekly for at least four years now. And it's probably the single most clear defining characteristic the Republicans have. They lie.

They project. They cajole. They ignore. They whine. They scream. They accuse. They distort. They deny. They lie. And meanwhile, they flat out refuse to govern and blame the other side.

Admittedly, Democrats can lie, too. Bill Clinton DID have sex with that woman. But for Republicans, the artful use of the lie is the only tool they have in their arsenal. It's how they start wars and quit their jobs as governor. It's how they deny gays their rights and hide their own gayness. It's how they court Christians and Tea Baggers. It's how they win viewers and listeners and scare the shit out of old people. And of course, it's how they make their money. They lie.

The lie is all they have. It's worked so well for them so far, why on earth would they need anything else?

Posted by: chrenson on March 28, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, a presidential move employed by the previous administration that now brings out all the worst reactionary grandstanding possible among elected members of the minority party!

Simply to gain back some measure of self-respect, the Republicans need to begin showing us their policy proposals. We need them to let us know they stand for more than obstructing this duly elected president while protecting their own like Ensign, Sanford and Vitter! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 28, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I think the "good of boys' are justing hatings because they are out numbered. They don't want to see a young black president move this country forward. The Rs political methodilogy and ideology is out of date and has not and will not help the majority of this Country. All of them (Rs)over 40 yrs of age need to retire. The country needs younger Rs who are not set in their ways and racist to help run this government. Stop being jealous and help this president govern this country.

Posted by: Ms. Glo on March 28, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

It's a start. You see my friend. The sky didn't fall. All you got in response was impotent sputtering rage. And you have fifteen more good people to work with. Feels good doesn't it?

You come into this job with a bright shiny tool chest. Don't be afraid to use the tools. Some of them look ugly but they were designed for very specific jobs.

Posted by: SW on March 28, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding the sort of decision made by the sort of folks who are inclined to accept the nature of the two dimensional either or answers in its entirety .
Wishing , and hoping , and thinking , and praying , planning , and dreaming each night , won't get folks determined to not get , to reach beyond NO .

Posted by: FRP on March 28, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Key to turning Perlstein's thesis to shit:

Obama pushed back...

Lots and lots more of this... and if there is an incremental push plan, okie dokie...

Posted by: neill on March 28, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

About f**king time! The only reason that the Republicans keep on behaving this way is because Obama hasn't made them pay a price for it.

Make them pay price for their obstruction and maybe, just maybe, they'll grow up a little.

Posted by: mfw13 on March 28, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

You won't act on my nominees? Fine. I'll appoint my guys and then leave it up to you to round up 50 votes in the Senate for yours. Have fun.

I think he meant to say 60 votes.

Posted by: Davran on March 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

This is the first I've heard of leaving the GOP nominee off the list, and I read the lefty blogs obsessively. I wish the White House had made a Big Fuckin' Deal out of the fact.

Americans hate partisan bickering and sniping and passive-aggressive obstructionism; they DON'T hate partisan brawling. Of course the GOP is going to wail and moan, but if Obama answers or rebuts or deflects that complaining, he's nevertheless on the defensive.

Instead, I wish he'd gone on TV to say, "Dear Republicans, the pain you're feeling right now is because I threw an elbow, and I'm ready to accept the consequences. You can either play fair, or you can get used to hurting."

Every consecutive week that we can make the message "GAME OVER - DEMOCRATS WIN" is probably worth a seat in Congress come November.

Posted by: Matt on March 28, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

It would be very easy to stop the "partisan rancor" in Washington. The Republicans could start acting like grown-ups.

Since that's not likely to happen any time soon, bravo to President Obama for actually making the government function in a time of crisis.

Posted by: Naveen on March 28, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll appoint my guys and then leave it up to you to round up 50 votes in the Senate for yours. Have fun."

Actually it is even sweeter than that. As I understand it the nominations of Becker and the other Dem are still pending, if Republicans actually have 50 votes AGAINST Becker they could turn down the nomination, at which point he wouldn't seem to have much choice but to resign (although I suppose he could stick it out through January). If the Senate refuses to act on the actual nomination I see nothing that would keep Obama from reappointing Becker after this Congress goes out of session or at worst during the first recess after the next Congress convenes.

And though at one level I am really disappointed not to see Dawn Johnson's name on the list it was probably a brilliant political move. Because Republicans are going to have a hell of a time demonizing most of the other 14 appointees. "How dare the President staff up the Treasury and the Office of the Trade Representative in a time of economic turmoil and huge trade deficits!!" Methinks that dog don't hunt.

Posted by: Bruce Webb on March 28, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most rewarding things about these recent events is the absence of the Lieberman Factor.

Sure, Obama let him keep his committee positions, but he didn't allow him to deliver for AIPAC, and Netanyahu was made to look like a fool. That's gotta hurt. At least I hope so.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on March 28, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

The party of "up-or-down vote" is simply now the party of "hell no". Good for the president; the Rs are bullies and bullies don't respect civility. I hope Obama will appoint more over the recess.

I wonder if Erroll Southers would take the TSA job if offered (since he stepped away due to R obstructionisn). Southers is extremely well qualified and Obama could make a case based on national security. That *is* an issue the Rs claim to care about. ::snort::

Posted by: Hannah on March 28, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum's point is excellent.

Posted by: Jon on March 28, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Between me and my husband we've had over 20,000 in debt and had to use a company to get out of it. We made sure it was legitimate through use of the BBB lookup.

Posted by: Credit Card Debt on November 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK



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