Let's start with a David Broder column which complains about the partisanship of Congressional Democrats:
- The way back to common sense and comity is clear. Take the
issue of the Pickering nomination, which would have elevated him from
a district judgeship to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The
Judiciary Committee's 10 Democrats voted against Pickering; its nine
Republicans supported him.
Fair enough. But then that same partisan majority refused to let the full Senate vote on the nomination. Majority Leader Daschle claimed there was no precedent for sending the nomination to the floor with an adverse recommendation. But even if he is correct in his claim, his obduracy on the Pickering nomination is inappropriate. The Constitution gives the power to appoint judges to the president, "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." It does not empower any 10 members of one party to veto the choice of a president of the other party.
First off, it's not a question of "if"; it is a well-known, long standing rule in the Senate that with the sole exception of Supreme Court nominees, judges that get voted down in committee don't get a floor vote. The Constitution says the Senate shall advise and consent; it doesn't dictate procedures for them, and certainly doesn't mandate a floor vote.
As for the consequences, at least Bush gets an early resolution and a chance to find another nominee. All too often, when Republicans controlled the committee and the Senate, Clinton's nominees wouldn't even get a committee vote; the nomimations would just languish, sometimes for years, while the nominee stayed in limbo and the post remained vacant.
So it's a sign of a "looming crisis" which threatens to "jeopardize the functioning of government" when ten Democrats vote down a Republican nominee. May we infer then that it was simply business as usual when ten Republicans exercised this peculiar form of pocket veto over Democratic nominees?
Broder won his Pulitzer for Commentary in 1973.
Moving to the local stage, yesterday's Eileen McNamara column bent over backwards trying to blame Jane Swift's departure from the Massachusetts gubernatorial race on "the 'powerful men' we've heard so much about" (when Swift herself stupidly tried to blame sexism for the consequences of her own mistakes), and not on Swift's own numerous string of gaffes, saying, among other things,
- The most predictable and offensive canard offered in that ''told-you-so'' tone by talking heads in the wake of Swift's withdrawal was that the first woman governor in state history had buckled under the weight of her family obligations. Didn't we warn her she couldn't have it all? Didn't we predict those babies would be too much to juggle?
The most prominent "talking head" making that claim, as it happens, was female --- specifically, Jane Swift:
- In a stunning turnabout, Acting Governor Jane Swift yesterday withdrew from the race for governor, saying she could not meet the challenge from Republican businessman Mitt Romney and at the same time carry out her duties as governor and as a parent to three young children.
McNamara would not have had to look far into her own paper's coverage to discover this --- what I just quoted was the lead paragraph of their front-page story on Swift's departure. As to the rest of her claims, what let the air out of Swift's campaign wasn't just the drying up of funds, for which the unnamed powerful men might have some responsibility, but the abysmal poll numbers, which showed Swift with 12% support to Romney's 75%.
McNamara won her Pulitzer for Commentary in 1997.