Losing the Appointment War.

Yesterday I argued that Obama should be aggressive about using his constitutional power to make recess appointments in the wake of Republican obstructionism. Perhaps in response to Obama's threats, the Senate confirmed 27 nominations that have been delayed for no reason other than obstructionism for its own sake. As Klein, Yglesias, and Zasloff all note, however, the outcome is essentially a Republican victory.

Obama seems to have promised not to use his perfectly legitimate recess appointment powers to staff positions that needed to be filled, and in exchange he didn't get confirmation for any of his most controversial nominees. Compare this to the "Gang of 14" negotiations, in which the Republicans secured confirmation for several of Bush's wingnuttiest judicial nominees in exchange for a virtually meaningless theoretical possibility of a future filibuster. If a minority of senators won't allow the National Labor Relations Board to have sufficient staff to function, a recess appointment is the only appropriate response. By not using his powers, Obama has handed a victory to the GOP for no discernible reason.

--Scott Lemieux

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