Benjy Sarlin Makes It Too Easy

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 16 2010 10:01 AM

Benjy Sarlin Makes It Too Easy

Yesterday the Daily Beast political reporter tweeted :

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Answer: Yes. Michelle Malkin welcomes the news that Elizabeth Warren is coming in as Assistant to the President & Special Adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the headline "Another day, another Obama czar."

"Special adviser" is the new czar. Facing stiff opposition and pointed questions about the left-wing, anti-business advocate that he wanted to nominate as chairman of the new federal consumer financial protection bureau, President Obama once again circumvented the Senate’ constitutional advice and consent role and installed Elizabeth Warren with a wave of his hand.

And so on. The Great Czar Panic of 2009 was one of the first freak-outs that really surprised the Democrats. Until Obama's presidency, it really never seemed like an issue that presidents would try and speed up projects by appointing special advisers instead of going through Senate confirmations. One reason: the confirmation process is completely broken. Senators can put holds on nominees for any reason, and some of the important reasons they've done so include disagreements over online gambling and the fate of flavored cigarette imports. Another reason: the White House isn't as quick on the draw about appointments as it could be, and I'm thinking of Fed board nominees here. But the big reason is the implosion of the Senate process. Nominees with majority support, even overwhelming support, can be held up for a year because of one senator's pique. Administrations, realizing that, look for ways to bypass the swamp. And when Obama's done it, it's become a key component in the Grand Unified Conservative Theory of his power-madness.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.