Wednesday, January 09, 2013

almost everyone nominated to a cabinet post gets it

this is really surprising, at least to me. i really thought that the senate had a better record at blocking cabinet nominees. but if the odds for blocking are really this bad, why are presidents so skittish when they float a nominee idea and find some senate opposition? the stats that kapur cites mention that only 12 cabinet nominees were "withdrawn before coming to a Senate vote" but that doesn't count all the times that a name is floated in the press by an administration and then dropped before any formal nomination is made. that seems to happen a lot more often (e.g. susan rice just last month). you'd think presidents would notice the record and would realize that once they formally nominate someone, odds are heavily in favor of the nominee. why should they even listen to the pre-nomination buzz? odds are the opposition will melt away once the nomination becomes official (e.g. chuck hagel right now)

on the other hand, maybe the fact that presidents are so likely to shoot down their own trial balloons is what makes their nomination success record so good. if the people who reach the formal nomination have all been effectively pre-screened during the preceding trial balloon stage, maybe that explains the record. if that's the case then trial ballooning a nominees itself is a useful screening mechanism and should not be ignored by a president.