According to Politico, the President was the clear winner of a confrontation with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
The Senate confirmed a huge group of administration nominees on Thursday, following a tense exchange between President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
McConnell was reportedly convinced by the president’s bluff of recess appointments, and scared out of his little mind by the thought of being called an “obstructionist”. This does not portend well for the upcoming Health Care Summit.
That’s the job, Mitch. That is the Senate’s entire reason for being.
Why else is there a Senate?
McConnell reportedly secured the confirmation of 27 of the president’s nominees after the Democrat “gestured forcefully”. Say what you will about Obama, he’s not above a little physical intimidation to get his way.
The other arrow in the president’s quiver was the use of recess appointments. These appointments do not require Senate confirmation, and last to the end of the legislative term, or in this case until next January.
Yet political appointees are seldom essential in government. “The bureaucracy runs itself” is almost tautological. They are only important to Obama, so that he can have a victory and to reward political friends.
And what if Obama were “forced” to make recess appointments? These recess appointments would last a year. At this point, that would make the positions subject to confirmation by a new, presumably more Republican Senate. Thus, another reason Obama wants them confirmed now: by confirming the appointees, they can serve out his term, or at least until Obama has to throw them under the bus to make some minor political point.
The 27 nominees were apparently part of a blanket hold placed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) because Obama “doesn’t like Alabama”. More specifically, Obama cancelled a $45 million FBI anti-explosives counterterrorism facility and an air-to-air tanker refueling contract worth many billions.
These projects cloud the distinction between earmarks and necessary projects, because while both projects are necessary for national defense and domestic law enforcement, neither necessarily has to go to Alabama. Shelby successfully got them for his state, and is fighting to keep them.
A tool at his disposal, as a Senator, is to block the confirmation of appointees. Yet because Mitch McConnell is afraid of being labelled as an obstructionist, he apparently kicked the intimidation downhill and got Shelby to release some of the holds.
Man up, Mitch. You’re going into the Health Care Summit (or is it “Submit”?) with your eyes droopy, your head heavy, and nothing keeping you awake. Stand tall. Tell Obama to do as he wishes. And remind him that the pendulum is swinging back toward freedom again.
Gone 2500 years, still not PC.