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Is there a point to Senate Confirmation Hearings?

 
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Shatner
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:00 pm    Post subject: Is there a point to Senate Confirmation Hearings? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Trump cabinet nominees were trotted in, questioned, and trotted out. I expect all of them to, sooner or later, get confirmed, if for no other reason than there has only been one outright rejection of a nominee in 40 years.

Watching some of the hearings, it looks like there is no actual consequence for being obviously incompetent (i.e. most of them, though Rick Perry and Betsy DeVos showed it in a way that made for easier negative media coverage than the others). Sure, some Democrat can catch you out and make a snarky remark for the camera but... so what, you're still gonna be Energy Secretary.

And it looks like if anyone is questioning your seemingly obvious conflicts of interest and past misdeeds (see: Rex Tillerson for the biggest example), you can just deflect the question or state that you don't remember those particular details, and repeat that until they move on to the next question.

So, what's the point to all this? Is this one of those things that mattered back when political norms were still a thing, or has it always been a bit of political kabuki?


Last edited by Shatner on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Part of it is the abandonment of political norms. The on-face reason for confirmation hearings is to make sure the candidate is qualified, and previously people who got nominated were qualified, because otherwise it would be embarrassing to the president. Trump obviously doesn't care about that.

The real reason is as a check-and-balance between the president and the senate, where if the Senate doesn't like the nominee for political or other reasons, the President has to spend political capital to make sure their nominee gets through (which they do, again because a failed nomination is embarrassing). The less the senate likes them, the more political capital has to be spent, and the less the president has for other things, so you tend to get compromise candidates. Unfortunately, the current senate majority apparently likes corrupt incompetents just fine.

Trump's nominees, like himself, are unprecedentedly terrible, but both the president and the senate republicans are also unprecedentedly shameless, so...
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Kaelik
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, this use to have a point in a sane world. Like, people appointed really qualified people, and compromise candidates based on the senate.

But Trump appointed literally zero competent non-corrupt people so the Senate realized that if they allowed a single one to fail, they would have to explain why all the other dumb terrible ones got through, so the Republicans decided instead of actually making sure there are qualified nominees, they would just rubber stamp 14 clones of Hitler if that is what Trump decides to put up.
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Last edited by Kaelik on Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Voss
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Is there a point to Senate Confirmation Hearings? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Shatner wrote:

So, what's the point to all this? Is this one of those things that mattered back when political norms were still a thing?


Yes. This even mattered for the Bushes from time to time. Sadly, those glorious times of hope (not really, but in comparison...) are gone.

Quote:
And it looks like if anyone is questioning your seemingly obvious conflicts of interest and past misdeeds (see: Rex Tillerson for the biggest example), you can just deflect the question or state that you don't remember those particular details, and repeat that until they move on to the next question.

You forgot 'I'd leave it for the states to decide,' poignantly promising the Republican majority that as Secretary of <whichever> they'll tear down Big Government and leave states with even larger budget shortfalls that they can't cope with, so education, protected lands and anything else you might value will be even more vulnerable to depredation and ruin.

Yet somehow government contracts (which cost millions more than government agencies doing the same jobs) will stay intact.
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Kaelik
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Don't forget, all profitable federal lands will not fall to ruin, because Congress defines them all to be worth zero dollars so they can give them to their friends at a market price of $0.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Like all of politics, it relies on honest actors to function as intended.

So if you were trying to pick a competent executive body, the senate hearings would be a chance to point out some dude was a ridiculous crook who had tricked the president into being nominated.

But if the president is a ridiculous crook, and wants a lot of ridiculous crooks at his side, then you're just fucked and nothing will help anyway, but you go through the motions and the press points out to everyone that yes, these people are all ridiculous crooks.

Which will likely make Republican voters very happy about their choice. They basically like when reasonable and studious people disapprove of you, so the more people are able to claim with evidence that a candidate is corrupt and foolish, the better for the candidate.
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