Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Confirmation Hearings.

To say that I have completely disengaged national politics since the election would be untrue. While I certainly don't spend nearly as much time following the intricacies in the halls of federal power as I did at the beginning of last autumn, I am still trying to keep my ear to the ground for the rumblings that may kick up significant dust. Barack Obama has now been president for a week, and I'm aware that he has indeed fulfilled his promise to get off to an active start. Michael Savage was on air last night trying to make the case that our new president is abusing his right to pass executive orders. He seems to think that the six times Obama has used the tool is some kind of record. I'm not going to do his homework for him by verifying the validity of the claim.

During Bush's reign there were a number of executive orders that generated controversy. It would be interesting to see an enterprising professional journalist do a side-by-side comparison of Bush and Obama in that regard. But lately my interest has been drawn more by the ongoing discussion about the President's cabinet appointees. The big three so far, as far as I'm concerned, have been Hillary Clinton, Tim Geithner, and Eric Holder. Hillary was bound to escape much of the nasty criticism and attention she might have drawn had she not been appropriated as the Conservative pundits' poster child for opposition to Obama's candidacy last year. Remember Operation Chaos and all those silly right-wingers with their 'I heart" Clinton sock puppets?

Meanwhile former president of the New York Federal Reserve Tim Geithner seemed like an incredibly cautious choice for Treasury Secretary. He was widely seen as non-partisan, and had significant support from many financial and political quarters. While he did draw some flak for his role as a key adviser in the Wall Street Meltdown Crisis, he managed to come off as an establishment guy that might just have the answers to get the nation out of the mess that had been brewing for years. No one expected anything else but a quick and uncomplicated Senate confirmation hearing that would be more ceremonial than investigative. And then information about Geithner's tax evasion in the early part of this decade came to light.

Geithner was able to weather the controversy, but he emerged into his position with more bruises than anyone really expected. Sure, it's a bit ironic to hear a bunch of Republicans whine about a guy who didn't particularly relish the idea of paying federal taxes, but this is more of an issue of strict adherence to rules than concordance of basic philosophies. Perhaps Geithner would be hailed as a hero (on the Right) for his past foibles if he were a Bush appointee? It's all a bit beside the point anyway, as he was ushered into the Obama administration officially by a 60-34 senate vote. Still he could end up being a black mark on the President's economic recovery program should things not work out in an ideal fashion (which they won't).

Now we can expect to see the Eric Holder saga taking center stage in the upcoming media cycle. Obama's nomination for Attorney General has been called on the carpet to justify his participation in the Clinton pardon of Democratic campaign contributor Mark Rich. A fact not likely to receive much media play is that Holder first attained the federal bench via appointment by former President Ronald Reagan. Similarly, conservative pundits and skeptics (like Arlen Specter) are likely to gloss over the fact that George W. Bush used Holder as the acting Attorney General in 2001, while awaiting the confirmation of super-dolt John Ashcroft. And finally, the same critics probably won't bring up Holder's encouragement of the strong independent counsel that Janet Reno set in motion, resulting in a an impeachment hearing for the last Dem president. Washington can always rely on an awfully short institutional memory.

Labels: , , , , ,

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understood all of your post until I read this part..."Perhaps Geithner would be hailed as a hero (on the Right) for his past foibles if he were a Bush appointee?" Are you really suggesting that Republicans are less concerned about people who avoid paying taxes by other than legal means? Do you really think when he was told he had to pay several years of back taxes, he forgot that the same situation applied to a few more past years? And, do you really think the press and consequently the public who are usually lead by words like sheep would be more forgiving it this "mistake" would have been made by a republican appointee? You can't be serious.
He might be the right guy at the right time, and for that reason I'd give him a pass, but to suggest that he'd be given more of a pass as a Republican is, in my mind, just plain wrong.
jg

9:32 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Well... there is certainly a contingent of anti-tax Republicans that considers any type of tax evasion morally justifiable. Would you maintain that Republicans (generally speaking) DON'T bitch about paying taxes more than Dems? I understand there are exceptions (and that you have always seemed to me to be one of them)... but I have a hard time believing that you really haven't noticed that taxes are considered inimical to many in the GOP. Check out Grover Norquist (and the Club for Growth, or whatever the hell they are called) if you aren't sure what I'm referring to.

I am not suggesting that the Democrats would give Geithner "a pass" if he were a Bush-appointee... I believe you misread the portion of my post that you quoted in your comment. That's a strange interpretation...

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well... there is certainly a contingent of anti-tax Republicans that considers any type of tax evasion morally justifiable."

There may be more anti-tax Republicans than anti-tax Democrats, though I've never seen a survey. I'd say it's probably a matter of relativity, since I imagine percentage-wise there are many more Republicans paying loads of tax than there are Democrats.

"Would you maintain that Republicans (generally speaking) DON'T bitch about paying taxes more than Dems?"

See reply to above. If you don't pay taxes, or pay little in taxes, or get a government check as a negative-tax, then you're less likely to bitch. At least that would be my guess. Anyway, how could you complain about paying large taxes if you like big government (and handouts)? Wait..I take that back...it happens.

"but I have a hard time believing that you really haven't noticed that taxes are considered inimical"

Frankly, I can't say that I've noticed that. Then again, I have no idea what that "inimical" means...brb, checking Wikipedia.

to many in the GOP. Check out Grover Norquist (and the Club for Growth, or whatever the hell they are called) if you aren't sure what I'm referring to.

OK, now I know who he is. I don't think what you're generalizing on here is an indictment of paying (or bitching about") paying taxes. It's about government at various levels levying higher taxes. While it may seem directly connected on the surface, I contend it's not necessarily so. As a republican, I can be against higher taxes, whether they be local, state or federal, because I don't like bigger government or excessive spending, but that doesn't mean I'd complain about paying them. That just may fit the majority of higher wage-earning Republicans.

" "I am not suggesting that the Democrats would give Geithner "a pass" if he were a Bush-appointee... I believe you misread the portion of my post that you quoted in your comment."

Perhaps I did, in interpreting your comment.."Perhaps Geithner would be hailed as a hero (on the Right) for his past foibles if he were a Bush appointee?" Are you implying that his failure to follow basic rules for payment social security and medicare taxes for a couple of years, while paying other years, would be judged by Republicans as heroic? That view I definitely don't understand.

jg

12:28 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

"I imagine percentage-wise there are many more Republicans paying loads of tax than there are Democrats."

That's an interesting theory too...

"As a republican, I can be against higher taxes, whether they be local, state or federal, because I don't like bigger government or excessive spending, but that doesn't mean I'd complain about paying them."

Interesting... 9 times out of 10 when I hear someone bitching about taxes, they turn out to be a Republican. The remainder call themselves "libertarians". And many of them make less than I do.

3:09 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home