Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

John McCain Dumps the group of 14


There is an old bad joke about accountants. A CEO interviews three people for the accounting position. He asks the first, “What is 1 plus 1” the guy says “2 of course”. He asks the same question to the second, and the second guy says “2 of course”. The third man comes in for the interview and again the CEO asks, “What is 1 plus 1”. The third guy looks left, looks right, leans in close, and asks, “What would you like it to equal.” He got the job.

Now, ignoring that joke, there’s some interesting news out of Congress today. One of the little known powers of a president, key sarcasm, is the duty to appoint judges. In our three-branch government, the legislature writes the laws, the executive enforces the laws and obeys the laws, and the judges interpret the laws. As judges leave their seats, a democratic President with a history as a constitutional law professor has the power to put people into those seats who will interpret the laws the way he wants them interpreted.

To put it bluntly, if the President can pick the judges, the President can get the answers he wants. A few years ago seven republican and seven democratic senators got together and decided they’d protect the power of the President to make such appointments. They came to be called the Gang of 14. They prevented all out partisan nuclear war and were rewarded with bipartisan merit badge. In the words of John McCain, elections have repercussions. When Americans elect a President, we are also electing a CEO in charge of judicial appointments. That little power has perhaps the most long lasting and far reaching effects of anything else the President will do in office.

Today, a judicial nominee named David Hamilton was up for vote. Republicans tried to filibuster it. Of the seven Republicans in that Gang, four are still Senators. Senators Collins and Snow, were gang members, and today voted for cloture, they helped end debate and the filibuster. Senators McCain and Graham were also members of the gang of 14. They voted to maintain the filibuster. In the end, it seems for these two, that the power to appoint Judges is important when a Republican is in White House, and unimportant when it’s a Democrat.

All that said, ten republicans voted to end the filibuster. Does that mean those ten are the new Republican moderates? What I find the most odd is that John McCain isn’t among them. Of all the Republicans I’d nominate a presidental nominee, McCain would be at the top of the list. So does this vote mean those ten others are more to bipartisan than McCain? Or perhaps McCain still has some (understandably) hard feeling about the election and helping Obama get the people he wants is just too hard a pill to swallow?

A good article on the matter was written by Larry Margasak.

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