Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It's cabinet secretary nominee confirmation day on Capitol Hill! (Try saying that three times fast!)

In the big story, the Senate has, at long last, confirmed Condi Rice to be our next Secretary of State, with 85 senators voting in her support and 13 voting against her. The dissenters, twelve Democrats (Kerry, Kennedy, and expectedly, Boxer, voted against due to her "lack of candor" regarding the war [and because she's raking in the dough for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ever since she "impugned the integrity" of Ms. Rice in last week's confirmation hearings]) and one Independent (Jim Jeffords of Vermont), cast the most 'no' votes against any secretary of State nominee since World War II! However, the more historic outcome is that Ms. Rice will become the first African-American SecState in our nation's great history.

Also in the Senate floor and committees today, Jim Nicholson was confirmed to replace Anthony J. Principi as Secretary of Veteran Affairs and Michael O. Leavitt was confirmed to replace Thommy G. Thompson as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Confirmation is also expected later today on Samuel W. Bodman, a deputy Treasury secretary who won committee approval today to succeed Spencer Abraham as Secretary of Energy.

On a 10-8 party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee today endorsed the nomination of former White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to be our next Attorney General, succeeding John Ashcroft. The unified Democratic dissent was designed to "send a strong statement that the minority will not tolerate administration stonewalling of Democratic demands for information," writes CQ Midday Update.

My senior senator, Charles E. Schumer (never one to miss an opportunity to get his name in the press), insisted that "We have to find our voice." He claimed that the vote shows that "when we feel something's wrong, we will stand up."

That's good because I wouldn't want him to take injustices sitting down. But now that you're standing, Mr. Senator, what exactly do you plan on doing? Are you going to talk for hours on end? And, if so, what will that accomplish? (To clarify, Schumer has said they do not plan to fillibuster Gonzales' confirmation once it's brought to the floor for a vote.) Do you plan on fillibustering away the entire 109th Congress just to prove that there are still some Democrats in our great legislature? Really, with the miniscule numbers they have these days, all they can do is fillibuster. They have not shown a willingness, as of yet at least, to work with the Republican majority so they will likely not be consulted when major decisions must be made. That relegates them to screaming and jumping up in down in front of the bright cameras and big microphones. Pretty sad, don't you think?


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