December 30th, 2010

Obama’s interim appointment: Cole to Justice Department

There’s a big hue and cry over Obama’s interim appointment of James Cole as Deputy Attorney General. It’s a controversial pick, and the use of the interim method to bypass Congress is obviously a strategic gambit to get him in there without the legislative battle that would otherwise inevitably occur.

Should we be shocked, or even surprised? No. Obama is not alone among presidents in using such ploys to get around the opposition; he’s merely more blatant about it, as well as more inclined to avoid Congress through executive orders and czars and the like.

The main objections to Cole’s appointment appear to be (a) his function as independent monitor of AIG from 2005-2009, the years when the company was making the risky decisions that ultimately led to a mega-crisis; and (b) his position on trials for terrorists, which is that it is a criminal matter for the civilian justice system.

I’d have to know more about exactly what Cole was hired to do regarding AIG, and whether he could have been expected to uncover the problems there, before I would condemn him for that association. The best information I’ve been able to uncover is this article, where it says he was responsible for monitoring AIG’s “regulatory compliance, financial reporting, whistle-blower protection and employee retention policies.” It’s not immediately apparent to me whether, given that mandate, he should have been able to uncover the rot—especially since the problems in virtually all the companies trading the shaky credit instruments that eventually brought the whole edifice crashing down seemed to elude everyone charged with regulating the industry. I’d like to hear why Cole should be singled out for special condemnation for failing to uncover what nobody else seemed able to uncover.

Then there’s his stance on terror suspects and civilian trials. I find it stupid and reprehensible, but that hardly differentiates him from Holder, his boss at Justice—or, for that matter, from the president himself. His position appears identical to the position of the Obama administration, and even if by some miracle someone opposed to it were to be nominated, the policy (and rot) begins at the top and nothing would change.

So, although I agree that interim appointments of controversial figures should be opposed, I can’t quite understand why this particular pick is so much more of a problem than many of Obama’s other nominees. The problem is the Obama administration itself, which will continue its attempts to name people simpatico to its philosophies any way it can until it is voted out in 2012, or until it finishes its second term in 2016.

What can be done? Jennifer Rubin points out that the Republican caucus could inform Obama that it will refuse to confirm any future nominations unless he promises to stop making recess appointments. I don’t see this particular group of Republicans doing that, however. It would be a declaration of war over something that isn’t necessarily worth it, and would leave them open to charges of obstructionism while Obama could wave the “I’m a bipartisan” banner and criticize them for it.

The next Congress will need to choose its battles well. Make no mistake; there will be plenty of them.

8 Responses to “Obama’s interim appointment: Cole to Justice Department”

  1. Curtis Says:

    The new senators will make the Senate Republican caucus quite capable of throwing down the gauntlet. It worked to get the tax increases thwarted and that was the old crew.

    The newly elected members are:
    • Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte(N.H.)
    • Senator-elect Roy Blunt(Mo.)
    • Senator-elect John Boozman(Ark.)
    • Senator-elect Dan Coats(Ind.)
    • Senator-elect John Hoeven(N.D.)
    • Senator-elect Ron Johnson(Wis.)
    • Senator-elect Mark Kirk(Ill.)
    • Senator-elect Mike Lee(Utah)
    • Senator-elect Jerry Moran(Kan.)
    • Senator-elect Rand Paul(Ky.)
    • Senator-elect Rob Portman(Ohio)
    • Senator-elect Marco Rubio(Fla.)
    • Senator-elect Pat Toomey(Pa.)

    13 new senators. 13 is the number of rebellion. Sounds good; Don’t tread on me.

  2. ‘Nuff said’ – Opinions Rants Raves – Garysworld USA – Dec 30th - GarysWorld USA Says:

    [...] Obama’s interim appointment: Cole to Justice Department - neo-neocon [...]

  3. Curtis Says:

    It’s time to celebrate the American spirit. All the slander and lies against America have not prevailed and the fifth column within is exposed and its power has crested.

    Obama is now having to work in directions counter to his true purposes and although he still will create as much federal government as possible, it’s a losing game because every action, every agency, every appointment, every cause only engenders more resistance. It is not our will but theirs which is flagging.

    Thank you, Victor. Appropriate name.

  4. waltj Says:

    Since the Dems will still control the Senate after 5 January, it’s interesting that Obama still believes it necessary to make recess appointments. He must figure that those Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2012, and anxious to hang on to their shrinking majority, will weigh his nominees very carefully so as to avoid further alienating the voters. To extrapolate further, that likely means that there is something in Mr. Cole’s background that Obama would not like to have revealed during a confirmation hearing.

  5. Curtis Says:

    More info on Cole:

    Looks like the biggest objection is that he got a whole lot of money for either being ineffective or fraudulent.

  6. SteveH Says:

    “”and would leave them open to charges of obstructionism while Obama could wave the “I’m a bipartisan” banner and criticize them for it.”"

    I’ll go out on a limb and say obstructionist is the job republicans got elected for. Sure Matt Lauer and Katie Couric will obssess over the mean spirited partisanship of the GOP. But voters didn’t go to the polls Nov 2nd worried about being called names for hampering Obama and the democrats.

  7. JuliB Says:

    Mark Kirk is a RINO, and I don’t use that term lightly. He’s virtually the same as a Dem. The Dems sent out campaign literature comparing Kirk to the Libertarian candidate and said (truthfully) that the Libt was the only conservative running.

    I voted 3rd party after much anguish (early voting,so before that literature came out). I’d rather not ‘waste my vote’ but could not – in good conscience – vote for Kirk.

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    What can be done?


    We let them keep moving into place and positioning laws, and people, while we were still talking and discussing endlessly. that way we never made up our minds, and never actually opposed anything meaningfully.

    its about managing beliefs. without some leader dialoging us to some consensus we would endlessly argue waiting for that declaration from above (with everything relative we could not converge on a best answer without a guide).

    on another note, they have almost all they need.

    [deleted long post including the major points in place]

    Looking at leaves won’t let you see the forest.

    Just as looking at cells won’t give you and understanding of the human condition.

    To focus on one square of a chessboard to the exclusion of most other places and moves is to miss the meaning that comes from the arrangement of the parts.

    Obviously the board and pieces never change, only their arrangements evolve along a single multi-branched tree created by the decisions at each point which creates the context and animates what amounts to some stones on a small sized checkerboard patterned surface.

    [arguing isolated parts in a world where nothing is isolated allows for the control over that point by constantly ignoring the whole. This then allows for the denial of any effects that may be argued that occur to the whole (the reality of it is disconnected in favor of a ephemeral contextual moral argument that tends to use justifications to create weight rather than morals, or as a more convenient replacement for morals). Abortion by itself is one thing, combined WITH social engineering changing economic outcomes of different classes of people, which changes what choices they make in life and changes demographic outcomes, what is it?]

    Look at the whole chessboard and realize whats in place


    Liberal Star Blogger Ezra Klein: Constitution ‘Has No Binding Power on Anything’; Confusing Because it’s Over 100 Years Old

    [i would point out that Marxism is also over 100 years old, as is Rousseau, and the others]

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