Unpacking the Berwick Surprise.

[UPDATE]: Ben Domenech over at the New Ledger calls this a “formality.”

Roll Call reports:

President Barack Obama sent the Senate his nomination of Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday — a move that comes two weeks after Obama bypassed Congress to put his stalled nominee in the post until the end of 2011.


Via Senatus: background here; and Allahpundit over at Hot Air reports that he’s “honestly shocked.” It is somewhat shocking; you don’t usually see an administration so openly caving in public.

As I see it, there are several possible reasons for this:

  1. The President is attempting to rally the base. It’s now conventional wisdom at this point – thanks largely to the White House, honestly – that the Democrats are going to get hammered this November. Perhaps the President feels that revisiting the Obamacare debacle would be helpful to him. Pro: The Democratic base wants to fight for Obamacare. Con: The VRWC wants the Democratic base to fight for Obamacare, too.
  2. The President is attempting to make up for two years of “I won.” I actually think that this is the highest-probability scenario: the White House has digested the aforementioned conventional wisdom, concluded that the 112th Congress is going to be full of angry freshman legislators who do not actually believe – or care – that entitlement spending is supposed to be untouchable, and is hastily trying to remove some of the more egregious annoyances before then. Pro: It does remove one of the more egregious annoyances. Con: It’s probably not worth the hit to the President’s perceived effectiveness at this point.
  3. The President panicked and caved under pressure. Low-probability, actually – if this happened in December I’d think differently – but added for completeness’ sake. Pro: None, nada, zippo, nothing. Con: If true, then I suggest that the Democratic party should start looking for a primary challenger; because if true, then this Presidency is going to be at the Right’s bidding for the next two years.
  4. The President decided that the opposition was right about Berwick’s recess appointment being inappropriate. Likewise low-probability. Pro: It would demonstrate a laudable ability in the President to learn from his mistakes. Con: Nobody’s going to believe it, though.

I think that covers it.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.


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