Other views: N.D. needs its U.S. attorneySure, the economy and health care reform hurt Martha Coakley in Massachusetts. But in her Senate campaign’s crucial last week, the Democratic candidate made a bad situation worse. Coakley angered Catholics, Red Sox fans and independent voters with her slips of the tongue; and after you’ve turned off those three groups in Massachusetts, you don’t have many people left.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
Sure, the economy and health care reform hurt Martha Coakley in Massachusetts. But in her Senate campaign’s crucial last week, the Democratic candidate made a bad situation worse. Coakley angered Catholics, Red Sox fans and independent voters with her slips of the tongue; and after you’ve turned off those three groups in Massachusetts, you don’t have many people left.
The Obama administration’s “unforced errors” aren’t as bad as Coakley’s. But here’s one such error that the administration could and should correct:
The administration should nominate a U.S. attorney for North Dakota. For that matter, it should speed up a process that now is lagging badly and nominate more U.S. attorneys in other states.
“President Barack Obama enters his second year in office having filled only a third of the 93 top federal prosecutor spots in the nation,” the Houston Chronicle reported.
“The Obama administration is well behind where presidents Bush and Bill Clinton were at this point.”
On the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, President Bill Clinton had nominated 75 candidates for the job of U.S. attorney and seen 52 of the nominees get confirmed. President George W. Bush had nominated 66 candidates for the posts, with 57 of them having been confirmed.
But as of Jan. 20, Obama had nominated only 42 candidates and seen 31 confirmations by the Senate.
Politics helps explain the delay. Senate Republicans have rarely cooperated on nominations of any sort.
But that’s only part of the explanation, and the other part is the fault of the administration itself. As a Washington Post analysis suggested in October, the Obama administration simply assigns Justice Department vacancies — including U.S. attorneys and federal judges — a lower priority than other items on its agenda, such as climate change legislation and health care reform.
“Analysts say that unlike Bush, who saw judicial appointments as a way to advance a strict view of the Constitution, Obama has not sharply defined his judicial philosophy,” the Post reported.
As far back as October, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said he knew who the nominee would be in North Dakota but was waiting for the White House announcement to say more.
He was frustrated then. In early December, he was frustrated even more, he told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
“I don’t understand it,” Dorgan said in that interview. “That U.S. attorney position should have been filled.”
Sure, vetting candidates is time consuming, he said. But “it just seems to me that the U.S. attorney’s position is a very important position, and we had expected this to be completed long before now.”
Dorgan’s right. The delay in what should be a routine task angers supporters and makes the administration look bad. The Obama administration should rethink its priority list and ramp up the appointment and confirmation of U.S. attorneys, including the one for North Dakota.