January 27, 2009

GOP Saving Ammo for Judicial Nominees?

Despite lingering ethical and tax issues the Senate has confirmed both Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner to Secretary of the Treasury.  Hillary Clinton faced conflict of interest issues surrounding foreign donations to her husbands foundation but was confirmed by a 94-2 margin.  Geithner confirmation was put into jeopardy when it was revealed that he had not paid personal employment taxes during his time at the IMF.  Nonetheless, he was confirmed yesterday by the senate by a vote of 60-34.  Both escaped their confirmation hearings having left many questions either unanswered or insufficiently answered. 

It begs the question, why did Republicans refuse to mount a sincere challenge?

Byron York, who has covered the Geithner nomination extensively for National Review was told by key Senate Republican the reason:
"members of the minority party have just so much ammunition, and using it against a cabinet official who serves at the pleasure of the president is not as wise as saving it to use against, say, a judicial nominee seeking a lifetime appointment to the bench."
We hope this is true.  Obama has a chance to pull the judiciary sharply to the left (see here and here) even if he does not greatly change the make up of its highest court.  With Obama enjoying approval ratings in the 60's and the media, along with the Democratic majority, trumpeting any dissenting voice as divisive, the GOP is going to need every bit of political ammunition it can muster to combat Obama's nominees that are seen as activists and out of touch with American values.