Opinion: Benghazi triggers a major credibility crisis

May 18, 2013


— Note to GOP re Benghazi: Stop calling it Watergate, Iran-Contra, bigger than both, etc. First, it might well be, but we don’t know. History will judge. Second, overhyping will only diminish the importance of the scandal if it doesn’t meet presidency-breaking standards. Third, focusing on the political effects simply plays into the hands of Democrats desperately claiming that this is nothing but partisan politics.

Let the facts speak for themselves. They are damning enough. Let Gregory Hicks, the honorable, apolitical second-in-command that night in Libya, movingly and grippingly demolish the president’s Benghazi mantra that “what I have always tried to do is just get all the facts” and “every piece of information that we got, as we got it, we laid it out for the American people.”

On the contrary. Just hours into the Benghazi assault, Hicks reported, by phone to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself, on the attack with absolutely no mention of any demonstration or video, later to become the essence of the Susan Rice talking points that left him “stunned” and “embarrassed.”

But Hicks is then ordered not to meet with an investigative congressional delegation. And when he speaks with them nonetheless, he gets a furious call from Clinton’s top aide for not having a State Department lawyer (and informant) present. His questions about the Rice testimony are met with a stone-cold response, sending the message — don’t go there. He then finds himself demoted.

Get the facts and get them out? It wasn’t just Hicks. Within 24 hours, the CIA station chief in Libya cabled that it was a terrorist attack and not a spontaneous mob. On Day Two, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East wrote an email saying the attack was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia.

What were the American people fed? Four days and 12 drafts later, a fiction about a demonstration that never was, provoked by a video that no one saw (Hicks: “a non-event in Libya”), about a movie that was never made.

The original CIA draft included four paragraphs on the involvement of al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists and on the dangerous security situation in Benghazi. These paragraphs were stricken after strenuous State Department objections mediated by the White House. All that was left was the fable of the spontaneous demonstration.

That’s not an accretion of truth. That’s a subtraction of truth.

And why? Let the deputy national security adviser’s email to the parties explain: “We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities” — fancy bureaucratese for “interests of the government agencies involved.” (He then added — “particularly the investigation.” But the FBI, which was conducting the investigation, had no significant objections. That excuse was simply bogus.)

Note that he didn’t say the talking points should reflect the truth — only the political interests, the required political cover, of all involved. And the overriding political interest was the need to protect the president’s campaign claim, his main foreign policy plank, that al-Qaida was vanquished and the tide of war receding.

But then things got worse — the cover-up needed its own cover-up. On Nov. 28, press secretary Jay Carney told the media that State and the White House edited nothing but a single trivial word. When the email trail later revealed this to be false, Carney doubled down. Last Friday, he repeated that the CIA itself made the edits after the normal input from various agencies.

That was a bridge too far for even the heretofore supine mainstream media. The CIA may have typed the final edits. But the orders came from on high. You cannot tell a room full of journalists that when your editor tells you to strike four paragraphs from your text — and you do — there were no edits because you are the one who turned in the final copy.

The Clintonian wordplay doesn’t stop with Benghazi. Four days after the IRS announced that it discriminated against conservative organizations, Carney said repeatedly in his daily briefing that, if true, the president would be outraged.

If? By then, the IRS had not only admitted the grievous misconduct but apologized for it — and the president was speaking in the conditional.

This could be the first case in presidential history of subjunctive outrage. (It turned into ostensibly real outrage upon later release of the Inspector General report.) Add that to the conditional truths — ever changing, ever fading — of Benghazi, and you have a major credibility crisis.

Note to the White House: Try the truth. It’s easier to memorize.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


jafs 5 years ago

You know, if folks like CK called for all politicians to "try the truth", he might have a good point.

But, when you overlook many examples of political spin and lying as long as they're done by "your side" and harshly attack any such stuff by the "other side", it's not interesting to me.

I look at this and see "politics as usual", with various agencies wanting not to look bad.

Armstrong 5 years ago

C.K., really ? Obama and credibility in the same sentence ?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

Well, Krauthammer IS an authority on Lack of credibility.

weeslicket 5 years ago

so, it seems that benghazi was a CIA base, using a state department diplomatic pod as cover.

the IRS investigates newly-created (political) groups seeking tax-exempt, anonymous speech under the guise of "social welfare".

tail wags dog. etc.

Armstrong 5 years ago

Yes, and if this happened under W's watch I'm sure you would all be saying the same thing. Right ?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

Well, the acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, was a Bush appointee and his replacement has been blocked many times by Republicans. That is a fact. Take it for what it is worth.

weeslicket 5 years ago

now, you do know, that the president is in charge of the executive branch of government. i'm pretty sure that the CIA, the IRS, USPS, etc. tend to run their own operations, and when these operations are "supervised", that is mostly done through the legislative branch.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

The President nominates his own choice to be the head of the CIA and IRS. Congress can approve that choice or not, but the choice still is the President's. Congress can ask all the questions they want. Congress can decide to fund or not. But the agency heads are still the President's choice. So while you're "pretty sure", I'm even more certain that you are in error.

weeslicket 5 years ago

from jhawkinsf: So while you're "pretty sure", I'm even more certain that you are in error.

actually, i am now 100% certain that you just erred in your argument. sentence 2 (before the comma) and sentence 4. seemingly, there is a balance of powers, julia.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Congress' powers rest in it's power to fund or not. But it's still the President who is charged with the day to day operations. The buck stops on the President's desk when it comes to whether or not the CIA or the IRS behaves in a manner consistent with their mission. It would be the President and not Congress who would fire a rogue CIA director or the head of the IRS. Congress could choose to defund a rogue program. Congress could hold hearings that would make things politically uncomfortable for the head of an agency. But only the President could fire him/her on the spot.

I stand by my assessment that you have erred. No agency runs their own operations. They all have some ultimate person in charge. And in the case of the IRS or the CIA, that person is the President. (The Postal Service I'm not so sure about).

weeslicket 5 years ago

i am so sorry that you feel poorly with regard to your previous posts about how the presidency is in charge of ALL things, as though IT were GOD.
even worse, my typings feels so crowded down by my boundaries to to right, i worry that i can only comment in ever lessening columns of letters. oh help me sanfrancisojayhawk!!

jafs 5 years ago

You're right that the president has firing power.

But, given the size and complexity of the various agencies, it's quite probable that there's a lot the president doesn't know about the details of all of their operations (sometimes on purpose, as with "plausible deniability" - I think that was Reagan).

Ultimately, presidents rely on the heads of agencies, and all of the lower employees - they can't possibly personally oversee all of their actions.

So, when it turns out that the head of the IRS gave a list of somewhere around 200 things he was investigating within the agency, I don't see that the same way those who use that to attack Obama do - I see that as the normal functioning of that agency. I don't think Obama had any particular responsibility to get personally involved in those, that was that guy's job, and it would be appropriate for Obama to wait until he finished, and then get briefed.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

The President is like any CEO. Ultimate responsibility is his, whether he knows the exact day to day operations.

jafs 5 years ago


But I think it's a big mistake to crucify Obama for this. He fired the guy, and there's a serious investigation going on, about all of the issues recently brought up.

Seems like an excellent response to these problems to me.

Do you think a president should resign any time anything bad happens in politics? Was Bush ultimately responsible for the failure to prevent 9/11, given what we know about it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

What you want is for Obama to cave to the calls of conspiracy, incompetence and scandal, thereby justifying your hysteria, and destroying the life of the IRS commissioner based on little or no evidence to accomplish that is just fine with you.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Jafs, I actually think Obama is handling this whole thing pretty well. Certainly I don't think he should resign. And I think Congress' hearings were nothing but political posturing, Republicans trying to put all blame on Obama and Democrats trying to defend him, no matter what. I just jumped into this conversation because wees' comments were so far off base, suggesting that the IRS and CIA were stand alone agencies and not under the executive branch.

I don't believe any President can know all the day to day works in the entire executive branch of government. That's precisely why there are many layers of managers between him and the actual workings of all those agencies. However, I hope you will remember that when some very large multinational corporation in involved in some major cluster f### and the CEO says he was unaware of the specific details. He's likely telling the truth. However, will you hold him responsible with the familiar comment "he knew or should have known". A more consistent position would be to not blame him for the cluster f###, rather how did he respond to it. Obama's response has been fine, in my opinion. Should he have known, well, just like the CEO, no one can know everything.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Jafs, I can't explain why one of my posts was removed, I'll restate my position. I actually think Obama has handled this whole thing pretty well. And of course, I see no reason for him to resign. I think the behavior of Congress has been as bad as it has been predictable. Republicans looking to blame Obama for everything from the Linbergh kidnapping to high treason. Democrats are apologizing, as if nothing at all happened. What really happened is what really happened, and the mark of this President will be how he handles the mess.

That said, I hope all who defend Obama now will recall this when the next multinational corporation is involved in some scandal, some major mess up. When the CEO testifies that is was the responsibility of underlings, and that he didn't know of the specific wrongdoing, will all those wanting to give Obama a free pass now give that CEO an equal free pass? Will the CEO be vilified with the familiar refrain that he should have known? Or will one standard be used for the CEO and another for the head of the executive branch?

jafs 5 years ago

Well, I generally agree.

But, a president has less power than a CEO, as you've pointed out a few times. He has to work with elected officials, and we have a number of checks and balances on executive power.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Bad example, considering how many CEO's are getting huge bonuses for running a company into the ground. Unless they were hired to destroy the company. I don't see any bank CEO's taking responsibility for the greed that hurt our economy. And the continued greed that makes it hard for little businesses to get a loan, but they'll give a bunch to big companies, and they'll do whatever they can to screw their little customers. They haven't suffered at all. The stock market is doing great, and they living well.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Bad example, really? Let's look at George Bush. He didn't do a good job, did he? He he's getting a retirement package better than mine, better than yours. Brownback will get a great retirement package, so will Kobach. And in the end, Obama will get a pretty decent golden parachute, despite his apparent lack of success.

And while private sector CEO's packages frequently are bigger than those of government's, as long as it's not my money, I really could care less.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

So you never buy products that pay for these CEO's. And you never work for any of these companies, and just happily let them throw the peanuts left over after the CEO's bonuses. And you never have been laid off from a company which paid a person big money to ruin it? If it hasn't happened to you, I'm sure it's happened to someone you know. But thats right. For you it's all about me me me. A true tea party follower.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

It's not about me, me, me. it's about knowing when things are none of my business. I don't tell you how to spend your money. And I'd resent it if you told me how to spend mine. And if company "A" wants to give a big bonus to a CEO, and assuming I don't own stock in that company, then it's really none of my business.

The chances I'd vote for a tea party candidate are about the same as me voting for a true socialist. Zero.

jafs 5 years ago

Given that Congress can confirm or not, they have a lot of power in the decision. The president can only nominate.

So, it's not quite right to say that the agency heads are the "president's choice" - it's a joint operation.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago


The Supreme Court operates in the same way. So it's your contention that the Supreme Court is a "joint operation", not Democratic appointees or Republican appointees? All these 5-4 decisions are "joint" decisions, reflecting the equal powers given to the justices by a President of one party and a Congress of the other party? Really?????

jafs 5 years ago

Overuse of exclamation points and question marks doesn't improve an argument.

Of course SC justices are a joint decision, between Congress and the president. If Congress doesn't confirm them, they can't serve. So a president can only nominate - if Congress fails to confirm, he can't do anything about it.

I don't understand what you're trying to say about 5-4 decisions. They are too close to reflect any sort of definitive answers for me.

If a president can simply appoint people, like in the Cabinet, then it's accurate to call those folks the "president's choice".

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Let me give you the most simple example I can think of. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must be nominated by the President and confirmed by Congress. So, that makes them co-Commanders-In-Chief, right? No. That title rests squarely on the President's shoulders. And if the as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs behaves in a manner inconsistent with the military's mission, the President fires him. That might include nothing more than a difference of opinion, without any specific wrongdoing. As head of the executive branch, the President always commands that power. And whether you or wess want to admit it, the CIA and IRS, just like the FBI and the Dept. of Education, just like Homeland Security and Health and Welfare, they are all part of the executive branch.

jafs 5 years ago

No, you miss my point.

The decision about who gets to head agencies is a joint decision, nominated by the president but confirmed (or not) by Congress.

I've already said the president has firing power, but he doesn't have "hiring" power without Congress. One of those pesky checks and balances thing.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

That term you keep using, a joint decision, makes it sound likes it's an equal thing. Do you seriously believe Hillary Clinton was Congress' choice? Do you seriously believe Kerry was Congress' choice? Or for that matter, just about any Cabinet post? Or head of just about any agency? And of course, that's as true today for Obama as it was for Bush during his tenure and Clinton's before. These are all the President's people, unless some really big skeleton is in their closet. Then Congress says no. But barring that skeleton, confirmation is routine.

jafs 5 years ago

There's a huge difference between appointments and nominations.

Congress has the power to confirm or not, and they use it. In fact, R in Congress have managed to simply stall a fairly large number of these things, by not bringing them to a confirmation at all.

Tell Bork that confirmation is "routine".

If Congress chooses not to exercise their power, that's a choice they make, but they have the power regardless, which makes it a check on the president's power, as it's intended to be.

Actually, Congress has more power than the president - they can deny his nominees, while he has no power to overturn their decisions.

A number of people have posted that Miller was in fact Bush's guy, not Obama's at all - if true, then there's even less reason to tar and feather Obama for this.

By the way, asking for the resignation is what he can do, right? He can't actually "fire" somebody like a CEO can, can he?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Was Clinton's confirmation routine? Kerry's? Bork was the exception.

Miller wasn't Bush's guy. Miller was a 25 year veteran of the IRS, covered by civil service. His interim promotion to head of the IRS was for 210 days, a number established long ago, to prevent interim from becoming permanent without confirmation. If Bush appointed him to some post years ago, I'm unaware of what position that would be. But head of the IRS it wasn't.

I would dispute your characterization that Congress has more power. As in this case, and in recess appointments, which typically last a year, the President simply bypasses Congress if Congress holds up controversial appointments.

jafs 5 years ago

If confirmation is necessary for nominees, how can the president just "bypass" them?

You seem to mush up the distinction between appointments, which the president can do on his own, and nominations, which involve Congress by necessity.

Members of the Cabinet are simply appointed, as far as I know, without any need for Congressional confirmation. Other positions involve that confirmation.

Do you have any unbiased sources regarding Miller, Bush, etc.? I'm having a hard time finding any.

Ah, I found what I needed - in fact, the activities by the IRS that are being scrutinized happened under the former Director of the IRS, who was in fact a Bush pick - Schulman. And, in testimony before Congress, Miller testified that none of the folks working under him (Schulman) at the time were Obama appointees.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

All cabinet secretaries, as well as undersecretaries, are subject to confirmation by the Senate.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Cabinet appointments must get confirmed by the Senate. Additionally, the way around the confirmation process should it become held up by politics is by doing what's known as a recess appointment. In the case of Miller, he was there under a similar appointment, a 210 interim appointment.

Now the tricky part. Assuming Bush did appoint someone, in this case, Schulman, and then Obama decided to keep him on even though he had the option of putting his own person in place, then should Schulman be seen as a strictly Bush appointment, given that Obama made the choice to keep him on?

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Well, some worse things happened under W's watch, but the only people making a fuss were those of us on a forum. There should have been investigations, but there weren't, because the Democrats wanted to unite the country again. The new tea party Republicans do not want to unite the country. They hate the United States, and say so everyday, even while waving a flag.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

I am thinking that what may or may not have happened in previous administrations is irrelevant. We need to be focused on what is going on now. When you go online to get news you have to be very careful of the source.

Okay, so a branch of al-Quida attacked the consulate, a CIA outpost, in Benghazi and killed four Americans. Were they really after CIA records? Did they get any?Is it true that the CIA got all their people out safe and that was their main concern. If this is a major listening post in Libya I can see how the President would be in a bind, but at this point it would seem the consulate cover is blown.

verity 5 years ago

Frankie, I don't think what has happened in other administrations is irrelevant when there is so much hypocrisy going on. I do agree that each case should be considered for what it is. Unfortunately, the Republicans have stated that they want to make the president a failure and the methods used in this investigation make one suspect another witch hunt. If the investigation seemed to actually be a serious hunt for the facts that would then be used in future decisions, it would be a different story.

weeslicket 5 years ago

bin ladin is taken out. the US spikes its football in the endzone. (this was actually a "good thing") (BL buried at sea. facts acknowledged. books and movies)

i'm really just feeling angry about things i really don't understand.

verity 5 years ago

"I'm really just feeling angry about things I really don't understand."

Spot on.

Oh, and Twister, really? The "mainstream media" avoids most anything bad about Obama? What do you call this article? And every article by Mr Krauthammer and every article by Mr Thomas? And even that hotbed of radical liberalism, Huffington Post? Yeah, I've not read or heard much of anything bad about President Obama.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"Even the left should be interested in stopping these types of abuses of power."

Yes, stopping abuses of power is a laudable thing-- trouble is, all the Republicans really want is to again be in the position to be the primary abusers of power, something they've demonstrated a great talent for.

With regards to the "liberal media," it's clear that nothing would satisfy you short of every media outlet adopting exactly the same propagandistic techniques that can already be found on Fox, Rush, Breitbart, etc., etc., etc. How many more outlets do you need to confirm your ideological biases?

Armstrong 5 years ago

As many as you have. MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, Wash Post, Huffington Post, MSN, LA Times, Chicago Trib, NY Post, Should I keep going ?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Actually, some of those are quite conservative. You might want to check it over again.

Regardless, I don't rely on any of them for most of my news. Reporting news with a bias is perfectly acceptable, but any news consumer should always attempt to understand what the bias of any news source is and how that might affect the way it reports.

Sadly, with most of the mainstream "conservative" sources, their primary purpose is to sway the opinion(s) of those who watch, not to provide basic information about the events of the world and politics.

"Liberal" news organizations tend to be much better about providing basic and complete information in its reporting, with significantly less emphasis on influencing their viewers'/watchers'/readers' opinions on those stories. But that's partly a matter of natural selection-- people who are inclined to be liberal/progressive tend to be more open-minded, and are more interested in hearing the full data and facts about a story so that they can make up their own minds. You won't get that sort of complete information from the conservative media.

The typical "conservative," on the other hand, has strongly held convictions that they don't want to question. So they tend to void information-rich programming which might incite such questioning. Instead, at outlets like Fox you get a monotonous repetition of very narrowly selected (or concocted) facts droning on hour after hour, at the exclusion of any mention of any of the most serious issues of our time (think you'll ever hear balanced discussion or reporting of climate change on Fox?

Armstrong 5 years ago

You're entitled to your opinion however wrong it may be

Armstrong 5 years ago

Whatever your ego says today dude

verity 5 years ago

You might have some credibility if you cited how Bozo was wrong.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Oh, come on. You were making accusations of a conspiracy between AP and Obama, doing a "lamentation of the liberal media" by a slightly different name. I merely responded to that.

verity 5 years ago

"It's only during the past week that the main stream media has finally begun to give Benghazi-gate any amount of coverage."

Really? Why, I could swear I've been hearing/reading vast amounts about it for weeks. Ever since it happened, in fact.

jafs 5 years ago

jhf and/or bozo - are there any positions that the president can simply fill without confirmation?

Either way on Schulman, it's obvious that the attackers are completely incorrect. Unless one can believe that a Bush appointee kept on by Obama is somehow now a completely partisan D.

And, as far as recess appointments, Congressional R have found ways to try to block that as well. My original point was just that Congress has significant power, by design, otherwise the president could just fill the positions without their involvement.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

When it come to Presidential appointments that then need confirmation by the Senate, I'd put a numerical value on it being 98% on the President, 2% on the Senate. If that's how you choose to define significant, fine. If you think my numbers are off, then I'll give you a little homework assignment. Look up how many appointments Presidents have made over the centuries and then look up how many have been denied by the Senate. I'd be willing to bet my 98/2 ratio is pretty close. Heck, just focus in on the last 5 Presidents, just to get a good sample.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

The Senate refuses (generally by some variation of a filibuster) to approve appointments quite frequently-- the backlog of judicial nominations awaiting a vote is quite long. And presidents regularly make nominations based more on the likelihood that the nominee can get approval than on who the president would most want to have in there. Elizabeth Warren is a very recent example, and even the more moderate fallback nominee, Richard Cordray, has been essentially blackballed by Senate Republicans.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Judicial appointments are a good example of appointments that are held up. But compare that with all the Cabinet appointments, over the years, and suddenly the numbers aren't there. Earlier in the thread, Jafs, you mentioned Bork's nomination. His was an exception, so much so, that a new word was coined to describe it. Being "borked". But look at the Supreme Court, What do Scalia and Ginsburg have in common, other than they were both confirmed? Nothing. How about Rumsfeld and Hillary Clinton? Again, only that they were confirmed. The Senate has a long history of confirming people of widely varying philosophies, deferring to the wishes of the President. There are exceptions. Just not that many.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Know why Sebelius is Sec. of HHS right now? Because Republicans let it be known that they had no intentions of approving Tom Daschle, Obama's first choice.

And what chances do you think someone like Paul Krugman or Joe Stiglitz would have at getting approved for Sec. of Treasury (even though either would be eminently qualified?)

It's an entirely naive notion that there isn't a whole lot of pushback from the Senate on who gets nominated for any top-level position, especially in this political climate, where Republicans have gone out of their way to disrespect Obama and his nominees as part of their very overt agenda of obstructionism.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

I looked at wiki for a list of positions that need Senate confirmation. It's a very long list, a couple of hundred, I'd estimate. You want to pick out a couple here, a couple there, fine. That's the problem, you only hear about those small contentious ones. The many that sail through are the ones no one is thinking about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"The many that sail through are the ones no one is thinking about."

Which ones are those? Please be specific. And even if you're right, why do think that somehow counteracts the effects of the nomination/confirmation process of their bosses?

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

"Please be specific" - I just said I looked at wiki and estimated the numbers to be in the hundreds. Please feel free to do the same.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

But which ones of those nominations "breeze thru" the confirmation process.? Please be specific (i.e., don't dodge this time.)

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Hundreds in the course of each administration. Thousands through the years. You want specifics, go find them.

jafs 5 years ago

It's remarkable to me that you're actually arguing this, when it's completely clear that the confirmation process is intended to give Congress power, to act as a check on presidential power.

Different Congresses have different views, so it might not be surprising if a R Congress was more likely to confirm R nominees, and vice versa. It is interesting if a D Congress easily approves a R nominee, and vice versa.

If the Congress is in fact "deferring" to the president, then they're not doing their job, and we should hold them accountable for that.

With SC nominees, it's become rather obvious that they all say pretty much the same things in order to get confirmed - I have great respect for the constitution and stare decisis, I can't comment on anything that might come before the court, and I'll judge each case on a case by case basis.

One real problem with SC justices is that there's no remedy if they act completely differently from their presentation once confirmed. I tend to agree with a Senator who complained about that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"It's remarkable to me that you're actually arguing this,"

It's a matter of staking out a position with little merit, but not being able to give up on it.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

What you are arguing is that Congress, or in this case the Senate, has chosen to define it's role differently than you would have, had you been in a position to define it's role. The Senate has chosen to define it's "advice and consent" to mean that it will defer to the President when it comes to specific philosophies of nominees, yet will intervene when someone who is clearly not competent is nominated. That's how Scalia and Ginsberg wind up on the same court, yet Haynesworth and Carswell don't. (Gosh, going back forty years, trying to remember the exact spelling of the two Nixon appointees who were voted down. Hope I got them correct). But my point stands, that nominees bring with them the philosophies of the President.

jafs 5 years ago

A very quick google search will find a umkc article, which states that the majority of the justices denied were denied due to ideological reasons.

I'm sure that nominees bring that to some degree, but I also think bozo is right that presidents tend to pick nominees they think can get confirmed, rather than their ideal choices.

Bork was denied, but wasn't incompetent, as far as I remember - the decision to deny him was ideological.

Let's look at the word "consent" - when used in other areas, like sexuality, it refers to doing something you want to do, not going along with what somebody else wants. If a woman "defers" to a man, simply going along with what he wants, even if she doesn't, that may very well be rape.

Also, since the minority party can filibuster if the nominee doesn't get a 3/5 majority vote, it's clear that this is all part of the intention of the founders to create checks and balances, rather than a stronger executive branch, and that the Senate is not supposed to be a "rubber stamp" for presidents.

But, I'll stop here, since you seem intent on continuing to argue this, and I think we've both made our feelings clear by now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

One minor correction-- the filibuster is a result of Senate rules, which they can change any time they want. It's not a creation of the founders.

Melinda Black 5 years ago

The general public is not listening to this anymore. "Scandal Fatigue" has set in and they have turned the channel. The only people still talking about this are decidedly partisan.

Armstrong 5 years ago

I'm sure the families and friends of those killed will be glad to hear that. Barry loves people like you

jafs 5 years ago


I just want to make sure I understand your position here - you think that however the Senate wants to define their role is fine, whether they rubber-stamp all of the president's nominees, or obstruct all of them?

That the intention of the founders wasn't to create checks and balances, but also allow for the functioning of government, or that their intention is irrelevant?

That citizens don't have a valid interest in trying to make sure that our government operates as intended.

If I've gotten something wrong, please correct me.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Be clear, not every way that the Senate chooses to define it's role is fine with me. I'm just saying it is what it is. Let me give an example of one of the most egregious examples, though this is the entire Congress, not just the Senate. The War Powers Act has the effect of Congress abdicating it's Constitutional responsibility of declaring war. I may not agree with it, but they've chosen to do it.

But we were talking about advise and consent. Do we interpret that broadly, or narrowly? That's for the Senate to decide. Earlier, I made the claim that with Presidential appointments, the Senate generally cedes to the President the right to appoint whomever they want, regardless of philosophy, unless there is some overriding reason to not do so. There are exceptions, Bork being one that comes to mind, but those are rare. I mentioned earlier the nominations of Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, two Supreme Court Justices with philosophies just about as far apart as one can imagine. Yet they were confirmed just seven years apart, by a Senate that probably had many of the same members. Scalia's vote was unanimous while the vote on Gingburg was 93-3. With votes like that by the same people, clearly, philosophy was put off to the side. What was considered was were they qualified. Once that was settled, they were confirmed. So advice and consent to them didn't mean philosophy, it meant qualified. Maybe that doesn't suit you, maybe you think advice and consent should mean something else. But in this case, I think it's clear that the Senate acted in a way that they thought was proper.

Supreme Court nominations have become spectacles. Lot's of questions before full committees. Nominations of under secretaries of commerce for Latin American affairs, or the hundreds like that, don't get the publicity nor the scrutiny that SC nominations do. They breeze through, I'm guessing, but probably without hearings before a full committee. Probably just a sub-committee and a background check by a staff lawyer. But the President does get to install his people, with few exceptions.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.