Friday, January 29, 2010

No, Nothing

I fear President Obama still doesn't get it. The Republicans have absolutely no intention of playing nice, not even after the president asked them to in the politest terms imaginable. The response is clear: "No, nothing." Whether the issue is jobs, the economy, health care, discretionary spending: the GOP continues to refuse each and every proposal put forth by the White House. That tactic extends especially to presidential nominations, as the Los Angeles Times noted in an editorial yesterday.

Law professor Dawn Johnsen was nominated by President Obama to head up the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the office which advises the executive branch on the legality of White House proposals and actions. More than ten months ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the confirmation, but because Harry Reid didn't then have the magical, mystical 60th vote, the nomination was put on hold. Of course, that was before Arlen Specter switched parties as part of a deal to get him re-elected. Now he's willing to vote for Prof. Johnsen, but, unfortunately, Harry doesn't have the 60th vote again, and Senate Republicans are fully aware of that.

...[Republicans] now say they'll try to delay a second committee vote on Johnsen ... Citing "several incidents affecting our national security" -- including the attempted destruction of an airliner on Christmas Day -- they're again raising questions about "her dedication to aggressive executive action in national security matters." ...

Opposition to Johnsen isn't completely, or even primarily, about national security. Anti-abortion groups oppose the nomination because she served as legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League from 1988 to 1993. But whether rooted in nostalgia for Bush terrorism policies or antipathy to her abortion-rights stance, the obstruction of this nomination is and always has been unjustified. The committee should promptly send it to the floor.

The moderate-left editorial board still doesn't get it. The opposition to Prof. Johnsen has nothing to do with her history. The president could have nominated John Yoo, who held that position under President Bush and wrote the legal memos justifying torture, or even Scott Roeder, currently on trial for the murder of a doctor who performed abortions, and the Republican "No, Nothings" would still balk.

And, sadly, the Democrats don't seem to have a clue on how to respond.

Apparently elections don't matter unless the Republicans win.

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