Another leftover from Sunday brunch via the Corner. Joel Pollak floated this idea a few weeks ago in a piece for Breitbart. I thought of it again on Thursday night, when I was busy enjoying my vacation from HA by watching Obama’s amnesty speech and screaming at my TV. Now here’s Cruz proposing the same plan, although with two caveats. One: It’s not so much that he wants the Senate to block O’s nominees as he wants Mitch McConnell to refuse to bring those nominations to the floor in the first place. That’s a clever way of killing two birds with one stone. If McConnell follows Cruz’s plan, Cruz can take credit among conservative voters for having been the motive force in bottling up O’s nominees. If McConnell doesn’t follow Cruz’s plan, Cruz can point to it as proof that the establishment squishes refuse to fight the White House with everything they’ve got, which of course is why we need to nominate someone like Ted Cruz in 2016. Even so, I like the idea on the merits. If Obama won’t respect Congress’s constitutional power to set policy, why should the Senate respect Obama’s constitutional power to staff the executive and judicial branches? He’s the one who declared war on separation of powers. Let him live with the consequences. Plus, who knows? Maybe he’ll go rogue again and decide that he has some sort of emergency power to confirm nominees himself if the Senate won’t do it. I figure we’re only eight or nine more grossly unconstitutional actions away from the media beginning to express “concern” about Obama’s behavior.
The other caveat, per Cruz, is that the Senate should consider nominees for “vital national security positions.” Every other executive and judicial nominee will be bottled up, but people whose job is important to America’s defense get a special dispensation. That makes sense politically: This strategy will backfire, needless to say, if Democrats can twist it around to accuse Republicans of not caring about protecting the country because they refuse to approve NatSec officials. But … isn’t defunding the Department of Homeland Security, which will oversee Obama’s amnesty, one of the GOP proposals currently on the table? If so, Republicans will be accused of not caring about security no matter how many exceptions they make for nominees. Also, the timing here is odd in the sense that the two biggest vacancies in the cabinet right now — Attorney General and, as of this morning, Secretary of Defense — just so happen to be key NatSec positions. I’m imagining Mitch McConnell walking out to the mic, solemnly vowing to protest the president’s lawlessness by refusing to consider any new nominees, and then adding, “Oh yeah, except for the two positions that everyone’s spent weeks talking about. Those are too important for a petty constitutional crisis like this.” If we’re going to carve out big-name exceptions to the “no new nominees” rule, maybe we’re better off just blocking judicial nominees.
Whatever ends up happening, can we at least avoid a censure resolution? At this point in history, with Congress so pitifully weak vis-a-vis the executive, a rhetorical wrist slap would feel more pathetic than ignoring any formal condemnation altogether.