Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Maybe Obama's just not a very good president

As of last week, there were 38 judicial nominees approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and waiting for a floor vote. Twenty-nine of those nominees left Judiciary without opposition, and at least three came with significant bipartisan support. Given the huge number of lower-court vacancies and this level of support, it's ridiculous that Reid is poised to accept a deal that confirms half of the nominees.

Of course, if there's anyone to blame, it's Reid for his inaction and Obama for his unconcern with the judicial nomination process. At any point during the last two years, Reid could have forced a showdown with Republicans over secret holds and their obstruction of judicial confirmations. What's more, Obama could have been much more diligent about making nominations to fill the large and growing number of vacancies on the lower courts.

Understand, that criticism above is coming from the left. And you've got to wonder *what* the priorities of the Obama White House actually are. Because everybody who pays even a little attention to politics knows that one of the big reasons capturing the White House is so important is because it's a chance to leave a lasting mark on the judiciary -- not just the Supreme Court, where Obama could hardly avoid doing his duty, but the appellate and district courts as well. *Conservative administrations are very eager to fill judicial vacancies.* And well they should be. It was a low-level George W. Bush appointee, after all, who this week put the health care bill into play by declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional. This stuff matters. And certainly, the GOP is being obstructionist. But it doesn't appear that Obama is trying very hard.

I'd love for Obama to bring about a liberal utopia. Short of that, I'd settle -- after the Bush Administration -- for simple, quiet, competent nuts-and-bolts governance. We're apparently not getting either. Where *is* the president's head?

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