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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to RedState.


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  • jeremy abrams says:

    Dear Moe,

    I’d add the possibility that Obama is presented Berwick in order to further wound the democrats in Congress for the purpose of securing a Republican majority in the 2010 election.

    He may consider repubs in office during an economic collapse as more useful to his reelection.

    Jeremy Abrams

  • Free-range Oyster says:

    I’ve heard similar theories floated about several of his… questionably wise choices lately. I think you’re right, it belongs on the list, but it isn’t very credible. Clinton? Sure, I could see either of them doing that. Barry Soetero? No way. He has so far shown himself to be very unskilled and even naive about political realities, and instead has demonstrated a raw, open ideological focus to the exclusion of all else. He will throw people under the bus if it gets him closer to his ideological goals, or if it will salve his ego *without impeding those goals.* Handing part of the power over to his opponents for political gain? I think that gives him credit for too much sense.

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