Saturday, October 22, 2011

Commerce Secretary Confirmed After Months of Republican Stalling

I've seen a few media outlets point this out over the past couple of days -- Obama's had many foreign policy successes because he can act alone, for the most part. Many in the media seem surprised, to which I've always said foreign policy is the No. 1 reason I voted for Obama and it's the No. 1 reason I'd vote for him again. Obama's got bigger world views.
We don't live in the kind of world where republican foreign policy ideas can thrive. It can only hurt us. Republicans are neanderthal when it comes to behaving responsibly in the modern world. There's no doubt in my mind that electing a republican president means return to the old fashioned "war on terrorism."
On the other hand, the media have also suggested that Obama hasn't been as successful at solving our economic problems because he needs Congress and Congress, for the most part, is ruled by lockstep republicans whose mission it is to thwart Obama at every turn (even with simple things such as approving nominations) like evil villains.
One answer can be found in the juxtaposition of a second Obama triumph that occurred yesterday: He finally got his Commerce secretary confirmed. You probably didn’t hear, because it doesn’t matter, which is the point. Last June, Obama named John Bryson as his Commerce secretary. Senate Republicans, despite harboring no objections either to Bryson or to his unimportant department, nevertheless held up the appointment for months in order to demand the signing of several trade deals. When Obama signed those, they made other demands. (Matthew Yglesias has the ridiculous narrative.)

They finally confirmed him yesterday — the same day Qaddafi was killed, and the day before Obama announced the final pullout of American troops. The striking contrast is the relative ease with which Obama pulled off these respective feats. At the snap of his fingers he can start a war or end one. But try to install a bland functionary into an unimportant domestic position, and he’ll be ensnared in months of controversy and inertia. This is the current state of “separation of powers.”
When Obama tries to craft international coalitions to support his policies, he is negotiating with leaders who have different interests than his, but ultimately share a common interest in peace and prosperity. On domestic policy, Obama has to deal with leaders engaged in a zero-sum contest for power, understanding full well that anything that helps Obama hurts them. NYmag