News that unprecedented GOP obstruction of President Obama’s executive appointments (not to mention sequestration) has left several cabinet departments and federal agencies simply unable to function has gotten the
normally reliable and level-headed Greg Sargent usually reasonable Jonathan Bernstein to pen an application to join the Green Lantern Pundit Corps over the glacial speed to which the GOP has reduced the President’s vetting process to. Faster, President! Vet! Vet!
Their motto: “In brightest day, in blackest night, if Obama just had the will to fight!”
The answer is to reduce, as much as possible, the vetting that goes into these choices. Yes, that probably increases the chances of a scandal down the road sometime. But that cost, visible as it is when it happens, just isn’t as important as the cost of leaving offices empty — and of disqualifying perfectly good men and women who want to give some of their abilities to the public.
I’ve talked before about getting cover for change on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue by putting a commission together dedicated to stopping the madness. But Obama can do most of this on his own. It just takes realizing that the cost of the current levels of vetting are in fact huge, and that it really isn’t that big a deal if a bad apple (or someone who can be portrayed as a bad apple) sneaks in every once in a while. Reduce vetting now!
The problem here remains the Republicans, guys. Accepting the framing here that Obama needs to be the one to change to accept the “new reality” of GOP blocking is exactly what the Republicans want, because then that becomes the acceptable norm for the next 44 months.
The far greater cost than the empty agency positions is the damage the Republicans are doing to the idea of good government itself, and the fact that we’re letting them get away with this petty crap only means that “a bureaucracy that can’t possibly function correctly because it’s been hamstrung” is the new normal, and what Americans will be conditioned to accept. Furthermore, the next time Republicans are in charge, they’ll simply redefine the framing and move the goalposts to “We can fill these positions with whomever we want, plenary executive, suckas!”
Besides, if President Obama speeds up or eliminates the vetting process, A) Republicans will keep obstructing the process anyway, meaning that this isn’t a solution to the root cause of the problem, B) a scandal is exactly what the GOP will need in order to “prove” that Democrats can’t govern, and C) pretty sure President Obama thought of A and B and is going this route anyway. The actual solution to the problem is to do exactly what the President is doing, carefully vetting and to continue to point out that the Republicans are making governance impossible. That particular message is penetrating the public.
What this isn’t however is an issue of the sufficiency of the President’s willpower. The. Problem. Is. The. Republicans. Period. Generate your own willpower to fight them and vote them out of power.