Gridlock Isn’t Bad When It’s Wanted

The Providence Journal editors did their best, Sunday, to blame Republicans and otherwise minimize the culpability of President Obama for his questionable recess appointments during the dubious recess that legislators don’t believe they had. It’s curious to note that no mention is made of the fact that two of the four nominees were put forward just two days before the Senate’s scheduled adjournment, not leaving time for even basic background checks. Hardly gridlock.
But what’s interesting is the notion that the American people care about this sort of battle:

On purely political grounds, the president would seem to be in a strong position. Many Americans can readily sympathize with his frustration since the 2010 elections saddled him with stronger opposition and a Republican-led House.

Who, exactly, do the editors believe did the saddling? (Or is “many” a term indicating “people with whom we associate”?) By the election results alone, we can see that many Americans thought it important to stop, or at least slow, President Obama’s rampage through the national laws. Many of those who care about bureaucratic appointments, at least to the point of being aware that they exist, may very well want gridlock.
And even those who do not might pause to consider — as the editors do not — whether the president bears some responsibility for nominating candidates whom his duly elected opposition will find uncontroversial enough to expedite their confirmation.

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Dan
Dan
9 years ago

I enjoyed the recent Senate Judiciary hearing in which Scalia and Breyer participated as panelists. They were peppered with questions from Democratic Senators attempting to paint the house gridlock as broken and a deplorable state of affairs. Both justices stated over and over that this is a proper function of the House, there is nothing bad about gridlock, and people simply don’t understand the Constitution. As a bonus, Dianne Feinstein tried to sandbag Scalia about a women’s rights issue and was taken to school in a most humiliating fashion.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

I enjoyed the recent Senate Judiciary hearing in which Scalia and Breyer participated as panelists. They were peppered with questions from Democratic Senators attempting to paint the house gridlock as broken and a deplorable state of affairs. Both justices stated over and over that this is a proper function of the House, there is nothing bad about gridlock, and people simply don’t understand the Constitution. As a bonus, Dianne Feinstein tried to sandbag Scalia about a women’s rights issue and was taken to school in a most humiliating fashion.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

The fear of “gridlock” is symptomatic of a rising belief in “government”. My tendency is to agree with Churchill that “compromise is a failure of leadership”. Americans have been persuaded that “politics is the art of compromise”. Perhaps compromise is necessary, but it is not a goal. the goal should be leaders with ability to form solutions which they can elucidate clearly “nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
It has been explained to me that compromise is necessary because various politicians have “their own agendas”. I suspect that “differing agendas” translates to “a politicians first job is to get re-elected”. I am idealistic enough to believe that every politicians goal should be advancing the cause, and idea, of America. I am practical enough to realize this is not easily accomplished and accommodation (Compromise) will be necessary. Still, I tire of the idea that compromise is the goal and not a necessity which brings in “half a loaf”.
PS, I remember the government being “shut down” in 1995, I do not recall that it effected my life in any way.

Monique
Editor
9 years ago

“two of the four nominees were put forward just two days before the Senate’s scheduled adjournment”
Ah. So recess appointments were the strategy from the beginning.
Submitting the names pro forma to the Senate two days (laughable) before the adjournment will allow the President to be technically correct when he then says, “Well, I sent them to Congress but they failed to act on it. So I had no choice but to …”

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

I keep hearing that the gridlock and stalling is all the Republicans’ fault. Hey, it takes two to tango. If one side has one opinion and the other side has a differing opinion an neither one is willing to move close enough to the other side then BOTH are stalling. When people try to use that one on me, that it’s the Republicans causing this gridlock, I just say the same thing back to them and replace Republicans with Democrats. They often seem stunned and confused. Then I explain if the Democrats will just simply go along with what the Republicans want, then there will be no more gridlock. Of course, that sounds absurd to my Democrat friends, until I add, “But that’s what you’re asking the Republicans to do, give up what they believe in and just give the Democrats what they want to break this gridlock, right?” That’s usually the conversation ender.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“I keep hearing that the gridlock and stalling is all the Republicans’ fault. Hey, it takes two to tango. If one side has one opinion and the other side has a differing opinion an neither one is willing to move close enough to the other side then BOTH are stalling.”

Masking a value judgement as objective fact is a common progressive tactic. When somebody complains about “obstructionism,” what they are really complaining about is the obstruction of things that they personally value. For the statement to have any meaning, it must include the premise that one position is better than the other.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“…the president bears some responsibility for nominating candidates whom his duly elected opposition will find uncontroversial enough to expedite their confirmation.”
What you ignore here is that the Republican Senate has admitted to blocking many of these nominations not because of any objection to their qualifications but because they disagree with the purpose of the agency. Attempting to shut down agencies individual Senators don’t like was never was the intent of Senatorial review of appointees.
There some valid criticism of executive power (curiously something we never heard over here during the Bush administration), but you’re clearly more concerned with the partisan aspects of this.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“What you ignore here is that the Republican Senate has admitted to blocking many of these nominations not because of any objection to their qualifications but because they disagree with the purpose of the agency.”

Russ, do you have a source for this statement? I would like to read more about this for myself.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Thank you, Russ. I read the article. I did not, however, see anything regarding an admission by Senate Republicans of “blocking many of these nominations not because of any objection to their qualifications but because they disagree with the purpose of the agency.” That may be, in fact, what is occurring, but when you state that somebody has “admitted” something, generally there has been a statement made by the person to that effect. I did see a similar assertion made by Charles Schumer. He is, however, a Democrat.

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
9 years ago

Recess appointments by Reagan – 240.= 30 per year
Recess appointments by George W. Bush – 171 = 21 per year
Recess appointments by Obama – 33 =… 11 per year
Conservative Sean Hannity’s appointment of the twice convicted felon Buddy Cianci to his “Great American Panel” = FANTASTIC !

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

At least the first half of Sammy the Democratic Troll’s posting was semi-relevant this time. Better than his usual zero percent. What Buddy Cianci and Sean Hannity have to do with the issue of recess appointments is anyone’s guess.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Dan wrote:
“I did not, however, see anything regarding an admission by Senate Republicans of ‘blocking many of these nominations not because of any objection to their qualifications but because they disagree with the purpose of the agency.'”
It’s kind of buried at the end and doesn’t name specific Senators (maybe I’ll look into that a bit if I get a chance).

Senate Republicans made clear that they would use the filibuster to prevent anyone from being confirmed to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the law that created it in 2010 was altered to dilute the director’s power or increase Congressional control.
“The Republicans’ goal here is not simply to object to people who have views they think are out of the mainstream, but to shut down parts of the government they don’t like,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

msteven
msteven
9 years ago

Seriously, we are debating whether blocking nominations are based on the qualifications of the individual as opposed to political affiliation or ideology?
And some people really believe that only one of the two political parties does this.
Really?

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Russ – I did see that. However, Senate Republicans wanting more Congressional control over a specific agency position is not the same as disagreeing with the purpose of the agency and blocking confirmations on that basis.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Posted by Russ
“What you ignore here is that the Republican Senate has admitted to blocking many of these nominations not because of any objection to their qualifications but because they disagree with the purpose of the agency. Attempting to shut down agencies individual Senators don’t like was never was the intent of Senatorial review of appointees.”
I think that whether it was said, or not, is almost irrelevant. It encapsulates the idea that some of these agencies have grown out of control (swat teams assualting Gibson guitar, Waco, Ruby Ridge, FEMA at NO). It is probably acknowledged that there is no control over these agencies. Legislative oversight s probably no longer considered possible, if it was ever desired. So, the politicans probably nibble at the edges, trying to get some one in control who might better manage them (so they can go back to sleep).

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Warrington – I work for one of “these agencies.” You are correct – Congress has no practical authority over their activities. The worst they can do is write an angry letter, to which somebody like me sends a “thank you for your interest” slightly modified form letter in response. Once a year or so, the head of the Agency goes before some Congressional committee and equivocates for a couple of hours.
Now the White House, that is a different matter. OMB says jump and we ask how high.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

Sammy said:
“Recess appointments by Reagan – 240.= 30 per year
Recess appointments by George W. Bush – 171 = 21 per year
Recess appointments by Obama – 33 =… 11 per year

Thanks for pointing out that Democrats have trouble swallowing their own medicine.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Senate Republicans wanting more Congressional control over a specific agency position is not the same as disagreeing with the purpose of the agency and blocking confirmations on that basis.”
Fair enough, but still a disortion of the supposed role of the Senate and quite possibly the death knell for Senatorial oversight of appointments.

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