Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 12, 2010

A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.... Alabama Senator Richard Shelby (R) has refused to allow a vote on Peter Diamond's nomination to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve. As far as the conservative lawmaker is concerned, MIT's Diamond, among the most accomplished economists of his generation, lacks the necessary qualifications.

Yesterday, Diamond won a Nobel Prize in economics, which in turn made Shelby look even more foolish, and created an opportunity for the White House.

"Obstructing a nominee as well qualified as Peter in a time of economic crisis is a harmful attempt to score political points that hurts our middle class and our broader economic recovery," Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.

Mr. Obama issued a separate statement congratulating Mr. Diamond and pointing out his expertise in unemployment and housing. "I hope he will be confirmed by the Senate as quickly as possible," Mr. Obama said.

Even now, that appears exceedingly unlikely. In a statement, Shelby said he just doesn't care: "While the Nobel Prize for Economics is a significant recognition, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences does not determine who is qualified to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System."

That's true, of course; the Nobel committee is not responsible for determining who's qualified to serve. But it's worth emphasizing a little detail Shelby may have forgotten -- that responsibility rests with the U.S. Senate, not one conservative member.

Diamond's nomination has been pending since April, and in case Shelby's forgotten, we're facing some difficult economic times and could use a functioning Fed. The nomination has cleared committee, is ready for a floor vote, and if Shelby opposes Diamond, he can vote against him.

But in 2010, that's no longer good enough. Shelby has decided one of the nation's most accomplished economists, a celebrated expert in employment policy, not only failed to earn his support, but is so offensive to Shelby's far-right sensibilities that he's forbidding the Senate from voting at all.

This is no way to run a country.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Alabama Senator Richard Shelby is an enemy of the state, in my opinion.

Posted by: Bill on October 12, 2010 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

"This is no way to run a country."
Sure it is. If you don't care about the consequences. If all you want is power, then the well being of the country be damned!

Republicans: We'd rather rule over Hell, than serve in Heaven!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 12, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. Shelby no more cares about the welfare of the United States than a dog cares about the hydrant it pees on.

Posted by: Mike on October 12, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Shelby and his ilk are the face of the "New America". Get used to it. These corrupt jackboots figured out how to take a shaky Republic and rattle it to it's skeletal far right with the whole hearted blessing of corporate America's main stream media. I hope David Gregory's ready for his eternity in hell. He'll have plenty of company. I bet his mom is really proud. Once these ass holes take control one again placed into power by low information bigots/homophobics Shelby will stick it right between the eyes of those left leaning liberals and lazy poor once again. Belgium. Yep that's sounding much better to me. Belgium.

Posted by: stevio on October 12, 2010 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Echoes of the sjem's liberum veto, and potentially just as destructive.

Posted by: Kirk Spencer on October 12, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

The problem here is not Shelby; the problem is 41 Senate repugs - and at least four DINOs - who are conspiring to bring down Obama's administration. Does anyone really think Shelby - or any of his tag-team playmates - would pull this stunt without the direct and explicit approval of Mitch McConnell?

Stop focusing on Shelby and call out the real motherfuckers here.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on October 12, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

In the way our Senate operates, there will always be Senators who will step up to thwart progress - when progress is defined as helping the non-rich or that which in any way hurts the corporatocracy; similarly, there will always be those who will ensure that the interests of the rich and the corporatocracy are served. We have long since abandoned any real semblance of representative democracy.

Posted by: terraformer on October 12, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

For all practical purposes, Shelby is running unopposed. And being condemned for disregarding foreigners only boosts his cred here. Worse yet, he's erected a billboard opposite my workplace.

So let me, once again, apologize for the people this state elects.

Posted by: martin on October 12, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

If Reid allowed the time he could make the Senate vote for Diamond. I doubt that all 41 (or more after the midterm) will vote AGAINST Diamond.

Expect a vote before Christmas.

Posted by: Maritza on October 12, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Reid could force a vote over Shelby's objections. The problem is that doing so takes up a LOT of the Senate's time and that Republicans are blocking action on scores of appointees. Overcoming the insane Republican obstructionism on all of them would prevent the Senate from conducting any other business for weeks or maybe months.

Posted by: tanstaafl on October 12, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

The reverend Fred Phelps has at least as much to contribute to rational policy as these phine phellows . Shelby in particular seems to ape the singular devotion to a manic extension of logic stretched point by point past any humanly related recognition in "so called" free speech exercises in one instance , and stretched past the point of decency in both instances where it is called privilege , senate or otherwise .

Posted by: FRP on October 12, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Nobel laureate nominates Nobel laureate; Alabama senator knows better.

Posted by: Grumpy on October 12, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

" But it's worth emphasizing a little detail Shelby may have forgotten -- that responsibility rests with the U.S. Senate, not one conservative member."

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

Whenever there is a democrat in the White House, the responsibility rests with each individual conservative senator to block any and all nominations made.

Whenever there is a republican in the White House, the responsibilities of each and every senator is to agree with any and all nominations made.

There is a way for The Obomination to address this problem. If he would let President McCain make all of his appointments, we republicans would not block all of them!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on October 12, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Ah the irony. Heavily comb-overed Grecian Formulated Alabaman professing opinion on Royal Swedish Academy of Science recognizing accomplished graduate of MITs ability.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on October 12, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

If Obama had nominated Cletus from Shitbuckle,Alabama I'm sure that Shhelby would be all for him as opposed to one of them edumacated elites.

Posted by: Gandalf on October 12, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

"This is no way to run a country."

Benen is correct--- and it applies to Dems as swaell as Repubs. BHO and the Senate Dems have been enacting as enablers of Repubs. Atv any time since 2/09 they could stop this nonsense by en\ding the Senate filibuster by the nuclear option. They haven't-- and won't. BHO and many Senate Dems need replacing-- preferably by other Dems pdq. If not, they'll be replaced by Repubs. That process starts the first Tuesday in November.
Many Dems will temporize, and continue to support the enablers.

Posted by: gdb on October 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that Nobel Prize is really prestigious- doesn't the worst President in US History, Barrack Hussein Obama have one????

Posted by: fred on October 12, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

If there are any constitutional scholars here:

If the US Senate refuses to perform their constitutional requirement to "advise and consent" to Executive office nominations, are the specific Senators delaying those nominations violating their oath of office?

Can the President declare, since the Senate has abandoned their obligations to advise and consent, he can nominate anybody he likes?

There's got to be something to break this logjam. If the Senate is broken, they're not going to fix it until someone hits them on the head with a big enough anvil.

Posted by: PaulW on October 12, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Every nominee for any office that the Senate must approve should be accompanied by the name of the (very much more liberal) recess appointee who will get the job if the Senate blocks the nomination.

Posted by: MCD on October 12, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why do Republicans hate America?

The Dems really need to start pounding this- hard. The GOP has precisely no problem with suggesting that even the most moderate Democrat is a barely-hidden Trotskyite-Stalinist-Leninist-Fascist-Islamic-Socialist maniac, the least the Dems can do is, I don't know, FIGHT BACK A LITTLE BIT.


Posted by: Zorro on October 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

FWIW, Peter Diamond received a very cordial personal acknowledgement from Governor Patrick here in Massachusetts last night at a local political forum run by one of our state reps. Diamond has done a ton of excellent work at the state policy level, and I think we'll be rather sorry to see him go.

As far as the Senate goes, it's not entirely Shelby's fault that Shelby is allowed to single-handedly obstruct the president's appointments. The institution itself is suffering under self-imposed hobbles that most of its members seem happy to perpetuate. With rules like these, who needs "checks and balances"?

Posted by: GP on October 12, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Any reason Obama can't recess-appoint Diamond?

I mean, aside from, "It might anger Republicans"?

Posted by: Chris on October 13, 2010 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK



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