Ending Advice and Consent

Sign me up:

Ackerman has a point, but here’s a different suggestion: how about doing away with Senate confirmation entirely? It wastes tons of committee time, it promotes endless grandstanding by bloviating pols, it discourages all but the hardiest from working for the government, and — most important of all — it doesn’t actually seem to produce a better class of appointees, does it?  Is the country really better off with a system that confirms Alberto Gonzales but deep sixes Tom Daschle?  Has the White House staff, on average, been any less competent or less honest in recent years than the Senate-confirmed cabinet staff?  Does the Senate, as Ackerman would like, really make it difficult for presidents to appoint underqualified officials?

I think it’s entirely possible that Senate confirmation does, in fact, make it hard for a President to appoint clearly unqualified people to certain positions (althought the Bush era provides a decent counter-example), but even allowing that, I’m not sure that getting rid of advice and consent would make it any easier for them to do so. After all, we’ll still have a corporate media obsessed with easily hyped scandals, and it’s hard to envision them letting something like Joe the Secretary of State nominee go by unnoticed (although not that hard). On the other hand, the Senate process currently serves to merely play to petty, hyper-partisan scandals and serve as a vehicle for the opposition to inflict a certain amount of damage on some nominees. Very rarely does anything of substantative notice come out of a Senate hearing.

I certainly wouldn’t abolish te requirement in the case of the federal judiciary, given that the judicial branch is a seperate, co-equal branch of government and appointees serve for life, but I can’t really see any reason why the Senate should have a veto power on who advises/serves under the President in the executive branch.