Executive Branch Appointments Are a Mess

Politico has an overview today of the disaster that is executive branch nominations and confirmations in Barack Obama’s administration. The more coverage, the better for this story, although Abby Phillip and Josh Gerstein could have done a better job of comparing just how much the situation has deteriorated over time at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

I don’t really blame them for leaving the question of responsibility open; in fact, I think they do a good job of pointing fingers at everyone, although they could have mentioned that the choice of Republicans to filibuster so many (if not all) nominations is entirely unprecedented. Best intriguing quote: they got someone (unnamed) inside the administration to say that the WH personnel office has been “skittish” after a few nominations went sour early in Obama’s presidency. As I’ve said, this is the wrong lesson to take from the troubles with the failed nominations of Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson; a better lesson would be that even relatively high-visibility mistakes are forgotten within days and do little damage to the president.

Regular readers know my reform preference: drastically reduced vetting by the White House and the Senate, and a simple majority needed to confirm in the Senate once a nominee reaches the floor. Unfortunately, this president doesn’t seem to consider any of this a priority, and so the problem just keeps getting worse.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.