If what the Prowler reports is true (and he’s almost infallible), then what we have here is a senator whose ego is about a thousand times the size of his manhood. Let us count the ways that this hold — if it is, indeed, intended to kill the nomination, rather than just an attempt to study it for a short time further — is an example of the absolute worst of what makes the Senate a despicable institution. Yes, I said despicable: a concave of popinjays who frequently confuse their own narrow interests for the national interest… IF, that is, they consider the national interest at all.
Anyway, The Prowler says an anonymous senator is putting a hold on the nomination of the estimable Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School to be ambassador to the Vatican. Understand this: Glendon is a longtime pro-life stalwart of great reputation and great intellect. But the anonymous senator objects that Ms. Glendon has taken a public role as an advisor to Mitt Romney for president. Oh — the HORROR!! Yikes! Mitt Romney says over and over again that he is firmly pro-life. But because he has not always been pro life, it is apparently somehow seen as a disgrace for Glendon to support him. And of course we just CAN’T have somebody who supports a onetime pro-choicer represent us at the Vatican, now can we? Never mind, again, that this proposed ambassador is herself of utterly impeccable pro-life credentials, or that the man she supports for president now says he is pro life and actually governed in Massachusetts in a pro-life fashion.
No… the real thing at issue here is that some unknown senator, perhaps an already failed pro-life presidential candidate who resents Glendon’s support for Romney over him (gee — that would narrow the field somewhat wouldn’t it?), has his nose out of joint for some private reason.
Here’s why this hold is wrong. 1) Because Professor Glendon is eminently qualified for the post. If a presidential nominee is qualified for a position and has no ethical problems and there is no reason to believe she would do harm to the nation, then the Senate should confirm her. Period. And at the least, the Senate should get a chance for a floor vote on the nominee. 2) Because a senator of the president’s own party should ESPECIALLY never oppose a presidential nominee unless the nominee is unqualified or unethical, or risks harming the national interest. 3) Because permanent “holds,” even more than permanent filibusters of judges, are an affront to a republican form of government. A filibuster lets a substantial minority block something. A hold lets a single senator block something. On its face, that is an outrage. The original purpose of a “hold” was just what its name implies: a TEMPORARY move to hold something over in order for a senator to further study an issue or a nominee. But the legitimate purpose was indeed further study. The responsibility of the senator — yes, senators ARE supposed to be responsible — would then be to actually complete the study of whatever concerned them, and then, having found the knowledge sought, to release the matter for the Senate to vote on. To use what is supposed to be a courtesy, for purposes of slightly more time, as a maneuver for one person to kill a nomination outright is the province not of a republic, but of an authoritarian state — or perhaps of a private social club that allows blackballing. 4) Even worse than a hold is an anonymous hold. If a senator is killing a nomination by himself, thereby putting his lone judgment above that of the president and of all 99 of his other colleagues, then the least he should do is to do it in public and state his reasons for doing so. To maintain an anonymous hold is to show cowardice unbefitting a eunuch, much less a high elected official whose duty is to serve the country.
I could go on, but the point is clear: Whomever is putting the hold on Glendon is an egotistical, unrepublican, unRepublican, authoritarian, self-absorbed, petty coward. And if he had the guts to go public, I would say it to his face — except that if he were public, I then would no longer be able to call him a coward, but the other judgments would still stand.
So again, the question becomes: How DARE this Republican senator block his own party’s president from appointing an eminent, pro-life woman to the Vatican? This is the sort of thing that smear-minded Democrats like Pat Leahy do, or the sort of thing Lindsey Graham does to Republican judicial nominees. In other words, it is the sort of thing that is the lowest of the low. And the perpetrator’s soul deserves to be afforded some extra time in uncomfortable purgatory because of it.
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