THEIR TIMING COULD BE BETTER…. Jason Linkins notes at least one key government vacancy in the midst of concerns over swine flu, and the political circumstances surrounding the empty chair.

All of this is playing out at a time when HHS nominee sits on the sidelines, her nomination held up at the behest of pro-life organizations who want to paint her as the “Abortion Queen.”

The hold-up is pointless — merely delaying the inevitable for “another week.” Maybe the swine flu would be good enough to wait!

Occasionally, obstructionist tactics are about flexing some political muscle. Sometimes, it’s just a partisan game.

But once in a while, obstructionism can be a little more disturbing, and interfere with government functions for no good reason at all.

I’m not arguing the U.S. response to the swine-flu problem is necessarily less effective because Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination has been delayed; I’m simply not in a position to evaluate the inner working of the bureaucracy. I am arguing that in the midst of “public health emergency,” and a global response to a possible pandemic, it’d be awfully nice if Republicans could be grown-ups for a little while, and let the federal government have a Health and Human Services Secretary.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.