A lot of pundits (old and new) will soon be writing about whether there is a “new” Barack Obama who is starting to show a willingness to use the power of his office — a willinessness many of his supporters had started to feel he was lacking. The latest big development: the White House announced that he’s making 15 recess appointments after hitting a brickwall in many cases due to GOP Congressional opposition or inaction.

The Huffington Post reports:

President Obama on Saturday announced the recess appointment of 15 political appointees whose nominations had been stalled by Republicans.

Go to the link for the full list. MORE:

“The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis,” Obama said in a statement.

“Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate. At a time of economic emergency, two top appointees to the Department of Treasury have been held up for nearly six months. I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government.”

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president the right to unilaterally fill any vacancy that would normally require Senate confirmation when the Senate is in recess.

Unlike appointments that are confirmed by the Senate, recess appointments only last until the end of the next session of Congress, which right now would mean until the end of 2011.

If you look at Obama’s decision to roll up his sleeves and his apparent conclusion that he was going to get nowhere with the GOP with these appointments, it suggests he is now in the next phase of his presidency where he is going to try to optimize use of his power as President to get his policies and agenda through, and also optmize his role as head of his party.

And perhaps the context makes it more defensible now than before: with TV images of angry Tea Party rallies, video of Sarah Palin reading from a paper swiping at Obama about his use of a teleprompter, Republicans insisting Obama has ignored them, Americans going to Tea Party rallies and counter Coffee Party rallies (with impending Marijuana Party rallies in California?), reports of intimidation against Democrats and Republicans (even a road rage incident because someone dared to have a pro-Obama bumperstick on their car — THAT portends for a LOT of work for traffic cops in 2010 and 2012, doesn’t it?) a larger number of Americans may start to conclude that if government is not broken, then on some key issues the willingness of political factions to work together is broken. And if the alternative is stalemate or inaction or a President using his legal power as other Presidents have before him, then some Americans (who are not talk show hosts) may give him a partial pass.

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
Leave a replyComments (31)
  1. shannonlee March 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    What did McCain say about the immediate future of Rep cooperation with Dems???

    here is the quote:
    “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.”

    • TheMagicalSkyFather March 27, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      Translation: Yo we got the green light daddyo to cram it down their throats if we can. And on a case by case basis that is what will most likely happen. For everything that passes and moves we will likely have one very happy GOP member that crossed the aisle for a hefty deal of some type. Ah democracy lol.

  2. Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Obamabush is out in the open now. If he can’t even unite the Democrats I don’t think he can unite the nation.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • shannonlee March 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm

      Funny…is that Obama Ambush or Obama Bush? maybe both!

      • Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm

        Funny…is that Obama Ambush or Obama Bush? maybe both!

        LOL, maybe both but better stick to using ObamaBush so as not to confuse him with Obama Amish:

        http://www.dotpenn.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/obama_rumor_mill.jpg

  3. DdW March 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Finally some spine!

    Good for him, good for Americans and damn the Republican torpedoes

    • Dr J March 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

      Finally some spine! Good for him, good for Americans and damn the Republican torpedoes

      Hear hear, it is good to see. He’s damning some Democratic torpedoes on education, too. He might just turn into the guy I voted for.

  4. JSpencer March 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Republicans have made it abundantly clear (ad nauseum) they have zero interest or intention of engaging in any sort of bipartisan cooperation. Obama is doing exactly the right thing by taking the bull by the horns. Good for him.

  5. pacatrue March 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I’d want to know more context before “approving” Obama’s actions, such as tracking down the specific cases. If these are all highly qualified people that are not “extreme” to most of the electorate AND the Republicans are only holding them up to make political points, then I agree. If these are very poor decisions, such as Bolton was, or somehow exceptional, then I think Obama should not have made the recess appointments.

  6. Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Republicans have made it abundantly clear (ad nauseum) they have zero interest or intention of engaging in any sort of bipartisan cooperation.

    Well since none was offered it is hard for them to express any interest.

    • JSpencer March 27, 2010 at 7:08 pm

      Well since none was offered it is hard for them to express any interest.

      Still subscribing to that meme eh? I don’t think anyone who is paying attention really believes that. The republican definition of bipartisanship is pretty much “my way or no way”. They didn’t earn their party of no label by engaging in good faith gestures of compromise and cooperation – other than lip service of course.

      As for your 62% poll, I believe that is a flier (as we target shooters say) since the average of most polling on this comes out closer to 50 – 50.

      • Brian Allen March 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm

        Yeah, where is that coming from and how does it compare to other polling?

        I expect all the polls could show formidable approval for reform and we would still find many people simply denying the reality of it.

      • Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 7:54 pm

        Still subscribing to that meme eh? I don’t think anyone who is paying attention really believes that.

        Maybe those democrats in Congress that voted against Obamacare do. And that 62% of Americans who want the GOP to continue to fight it, including a majority of not only Conservatives but also independents, at least according to that (*chuckle*) great bastion of Conservatism CBS.

      • Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm

        The 62% wasn’t necessarily opposition alone but likely included some not sure or folks who supported healthcare overall but didn’t like everything in it and wanted Republicans to fight parts of it. After all that question wasn’t on healthcare but on whether the public wanted the GOP to continue to fight the legislation.

        http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim//2010/03/24/image6330002.gif

        If you want to get a better polling picture try the aggregate here:

        http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/healthplan.php

        50.4% opposed and 40.5% in favor of Obamacare.

        So you have USA Today/Gallup and Kaiser / PSRA polls showing a positive.

        You also have CBS News, Quinnipiac, Bloomberg, CNN, Rasmussen, Democracy Corps (D)/Third Way (D), FOX, YouGov/Polimetrix, PPP (D), NBC/WSJ, Pew, OnMessage (R-RNC), AP-GfK, Ipsos/McClatchy, show negetive response in their latest polling.

        • Brian Allen March 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm

          Your link to i.i.com.com is nothing but a graph. There is no information on who conducted the poll, sample size, margin of error, nothing.

          That is a graph, not a real poll. I could give you one in 5 minutes. I could ask my neighbor what they think and it would be more legitimate.

          Shame on you for trying to pass that off.

          I checked the other polls you cited. It seems only 3 have been conducted since HCR passed according to pollster.com. A reliable source. One of them shows a trend for approval (Gallup), 2 disagree (CBS News, Quinipac).

          None show your mythical 62%

          The funny thing here is that rather than trying to pull a fast one on us with that silly graph, you could have just referred to the legitimate source. You’re not earning anyone’s confidence on this one.

          • Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm

            Your link to i.i.com.com is nothing but a graph. There is no information on who conducted the poll, sample size, margin of error, nothing.

            That is a graph, not a real poll. I could give you one in 5 minutes. I could ask my neighbor what they think and it would be more legitimate.

            Shame on you for trying to pass that off.

            Ok here ya go:

            http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20001117-503544.html

            The poll finds that 62 percent want Congressional Republicans to keep challenging the bill, while 33 percent say they should not do so. Nearly nine in ten Republicans and two in three independents want the GOP to keep challenging. Even 41 percent of Democrats support continued challenges.

            CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

            This poll was conducted by telephone on March 22-23, 2010 among 649 adults first interviewed by CBS News March 18-21, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Poll

            ————————–

            I checked the other polls you cited. It seems only 3 have been conducted since HCR passed according to pollster.com. A reliable source. One of them shows a trend for approval (Gallup), 2 disagree (CBS News, Quinipac).

            None show your mythical 62%

            Not mythical at all, CBS (see link above) and none of the others asked the same question about whether those polled supported the GOP efforts.

            The funny thing here is that rather than trying to pull a fast one on us with that silly graph, you could have just referred to the legitimate source. You’re not earning anyone’s confidence on this one.

            The funny thing here is, I did not try to pull a fast one. True I didn’t link in this post to the actual poll but now I have, maybe that will restore your confidence. It certainly proves I was not “pulling a fast one”.

          • Brian Allen March 27, 2010 at 10:59 pm

            I’m happy to correct myself on this. And indeed I can see you weren’t trying to pull a fast one.

            My apologies.

          • Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 11:32 pm

            I’m happy to correct myself on this. And indeed I can see you weren’t trying to pull a fast one.

            My apologies.

            No worries, I thought I had posted it was from CBS, but I had my first post eaten up by the wieirdness of the internet and it didn’t make it to the version that was posted. Its fair game for you to ask for where the data came from, even if a bit accusingly.

          • JSpencer March 27, 2010 at 11:28 pm

            The average of several polls at 538 is more like 43 and 46. No matter, it’s a poll and is subject to change. As for the desire on the part of the public to want republicans to fight HCR, I look at that about the same way I look at the publics desire to watch mud wrestling. Bottom line, someone has had to function in the adult role, and it hasn’t been the GOP.

          • Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 11:36 pm

            The average of several polls at 538 is more like 43 and 46.

            Perhaps you missed it but the average is given in the top right, its 50.4% opposed to 40.5% in favor. Although perhaps you refer to something else, but I have no idea what you mean by “538”. Can you clarify?

            http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/healthplan.php

          • JSpencer March 28, 2010 at 10:14 am

            Sure, the site I’m referring to (sorry, I presumed common knowledge) is Nate Silver’s:

            http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/

            The specific reference was:

            http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/03/are-democrats-better-off-for-having.html

            No doubt the numbers will change again by next week. 😉

          • gcotharn March 28, 2010 at 10:43 am

            Just want to clarify: when you said “The average of several polls at 538 is more like 43 and 46″, you meant 43 in favor of HCR and 46 opposed to HCR. I originally misinterpreted your statement as being a claim that, on average, more polled persons support HCR.

            It’s been claimed, in another post, that some of the poll opposition to HCR consists of polled persons who oppose b/c HCR doesn’t go far enough. This is a reasonable claim. Still, if anyone knows of polling which measures such persons, please direct me to it. I would like to see numbers.

            In the post JSpencer linked to, Nate Silver is not optimistic about public perception of HCR, either now or in the run up to November:

            Most of the polls show a bump of some kind in approval for health care reform — but it’s not as large as that implied by the USA Today/Gallup one-day poll that was released on Tuesday. If we take an average of the four polls that have been conducted entirely after the health care bill passed the House, rather (those from Gallup, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac and CBS), they average out to 43 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. Those are numbers that I think Democrats would gladly take relative to where health care has been in the past, but it’s not exactly as though the bill has become wildly popular — nor is it likely to do so in advance of the midterms.

  7. Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Damned some public ones too as 62% support Republicans continuing to fight Obamacare.

  8. SteveK March 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    (*chuckle*)

    Oh no… Leonidas has become another DLS. (*snort*)… Must be the stress (*cough*) caused by being on the losing side… (*raspberry*)

  9. Leonidas March 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Bottom line, someone has had to function in the adult role, and it hasn’t been the GOP.

    nor the Democrats.

  10. DLS March 28, 2010 at 9:14 am

    “A lot of pundits (old and new) will soon be writing about whether there is a ‘new’ Barack Obama”

    After how many minutes or hours?

    Meanwhile, the public remains opposed to the legislation (and to how the Dems passed it, and to what the Dems have been doing this past year), no matter what kind of childish attacks reporting that will spawn.

  11. JSpencer March 28, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Correct. And you are welcome to give that difference of 3 percentage points however much weight you like. I tend to take polls like these with a fair amount of salt – that is until the proof of what they actually means comes out. We’ll see how all the crystal ball gazing shakes out in November. I expect the dems will lose seats, but doubt it will be in the numbers republicans are hoping for.

  12. DLS March 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    “Yo we got the green light daddyo to cram it down their throats if we can.”

    If the Dems resume what killed them over health care, will they also ignore or fail to notice public disapproval again? Will the Usual Suspects be surprised and angered by the forced GOP opposition?

    As far as Obama’s action, not a soul has questioned it so far. The GOP has no choice but to resist what Obama and the Dems are doing the rest of this year, and Obama is just rushing to fill an effective power vacuum, in exercising his right to make recess appointments, and turn the screws more tightly against the Republicans. Why wouldn’t he do it? Now, I just hope these appointments make sense for a Change [tm].

  13. WagglebutII March 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Obama was elected POTUS and the democrats were elected legislators. They were elected to govern in accordance with laws and USConstitution. They should be prudent but not timid. Were I in BO’s position I would do no less! I did not vote for him but I want him to succeed and I want the USA to succeed. Gitter done!

    • JSpencer March 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Exactly. This is democracy in action. Sore loser-ism isn’t a justifiable reason to get wankerized. The GOP and it’s apologists truly need to get a g-r-i-p.

  14. Kathy Gill March 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Joe, I want to see the people who line up to blast and support his decision … then compare their words with what they said when Bush did this.

    It’s politics as usual, which Obama /said/ he was leaving behind. I hate it when my skepticism is rewarded. :-/