Unpacking the Berwick Surprise.
[UPDATE]: Ben Domenech over at the New Ledger calls this a “formality.”
Roll Call reports:
President Barack Obama sent the Senate his nomination of Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday — a move that comes two weeks after Obama bypassed Congress to put his stalled nominee in the post until the end of 2011.
Via Senatus: background here; and Allahpundit over at Hot Air reports that he’s “honestly shocked.” It is somewhat shocking; you don’t usually see an administration so openly caving in public.
As I see it, there are several possible reasons for this:
- The President is attempting to rally the base. It’s now conventional wisdom at this point – thanks largely to the White House, honestly – that the Democrats are going to get hammered this November. Perhaps the President feels that revisiting the Obamacare debacle would be helpful to him. Pro: The Democratic base wants to fight for Obamacare. Con: The VRWC wants the Democratic base to fight for Obamacare, too.
- The President is attempting to make up for two years of “I won.” I actually think that this is the highest-probability scenario: the White House has digested the aforementioned conventional wisdom, concluded that the 112th Congress is going to be full of angry freshman legislators who do not actually believe – or care – that entitlement spending is supposed to be untouchable, and is hastily trying to remove some of the more egregious annoyances before then. Pro: It does remove one of the more egregious annoyances. Con: It’s probably not worth the hit to the President’s perceived effectiveness at this point.
- The President panicked and caved under pressure. Low-probability, actually – if this happened in December I’d think differently – but added for completeness’ sake. Pro: None, nada, zippo, nothing. Con: If true, then I suggest that the Democratic party should start looking for a primary challenger; because if true, then this Presidency is going to be at the Right’s bidding for the next two years.
- The President decided that the opposition was right about Berwick’s recess appointment being inappropriate. Likewise low-probability. Pro: It would demonstrate a laudable ability in the President to learn from his mistakes. Con: Nobody’s going to believe it, though.
I think that covers it.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.