No way to run a government, cont’d

NO WAY TO RUN A GOVERNMENT, CONT’D…. When President Obama nominated Michael McCrum to be a U.S. Attorney in Western Texas, there was no reason to think there’d be much of a delay. McCrum, a former assistant U.S. attorney, enjoyed the support of Texas’ Democratic congressional delegation and endorsements from both of Texas’ Republican U.S. senators.

Last week, McCrum told the White House he just couldn’t wait anymore. Jonathan Bernstein, who accurately described this as “insane,” flagged this item from San Antonio.

Michael McCrum, the leading candidate to be the top federal prosecutor in the San Antonio-based Western District of Texas, withdrew his name from consideration Thursday, frustrated with a dragging nomination process that had put his life on indefinite hold.

The development came as a surprise, given that the former assistant U.S. attorney, now a defense lawyer, had gotten the political nod more than a year ago from Texas’ Democratic Congressional delegation and even had support from the state’s two Republican senators.

President Barack Obama was expected to nominate McCrum to lead one of the busiest federal judicial districts in the country, with more than 100 federal criminal and civil lawyers in offices in San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, Alpine and Pecos.

Republicans didn’t block McCrum specifically, they just slowed down the entire process for confirming anyone for anything, and McCrum’s nomination just withered on the vine. After more than a year, McCrum could no longer keep his life on hold — he hasn’t been able to take any cases, and his law practice has “dwindled to almost nothing” — so he withdrew himself from consideration.

Reading a story like this, there’s a temptation to focus on how unfair it is for Michael McCrum and qualified nominees like him, who are getting royally screwed by the GOP decision to break the Senate. And to be sure, it is unfair, and I feel for these nominees and their families.

But it’s also unfair to you, me, and the rest of the country. We benefit when we have a functioning government, with accomplished, honorable patriots willing to work in the public sector on our behalf. When they say, “To hell with it, I can’t wait for conservatives in the Senate to stop playing games,” the whole country pays a price.

Bernstein has some compelling thoughts on improving the presidential appointment process. The sooner officials act, the better.