At a forum in New Hampshire, not-quite-officially-a-candidate-yet Jeb Bush said the Senate should defer to President Barack Obama's wishes and confirm Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as attorney general. Via Politico:
"I think presidents have the right to pick their team," Bush said, according to reports of his stop at the "Politics and Pie" forum in Concord, New Hampshire, on Thursday night.
The former Florida governor made sure to get in a few digs at current Attorney General Eric Holder, saying that Republicans should consider that the longer it takes to confirm Lynch, the longer Holder stays.
A Senate fight over a sex-trafficking bill that includes a controversial abortion provision has held up Lynch's nomination for 160 days since Obama announced his choice last Nov. 8, but Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is threatening to break protocol and force a vote on the Senate floor.
"If someone is supportive of the president's policies, whether you agree with them or not, there should be some deference to the executive," Bush told reporters. "It should not always be partisan."
But the Senate has veto power over these executive branch nominations for a reason. The heads of these executive branch agencies wield enormous amounts of power over the lives of American citizens. They have a greater potential for wrecking the lives of average Americans than the president himself. Ask any property owner west of the Mississippi River who has greater direct impact on their lives: the president of the United States or the administrator of their closest regional Environmental Protection Agency field office.
There may be some partisanship by Republican senators who don't like that Lynch supports President Barack Obama's executive authority on immigration decisions. There's nothing partisan, however, about calling Lynch to task for her U.S. Attorney's office in New York abusing civil asset forfeiture regulations to seize and hold huge sums of money from citizens without having proven (or even charged) them with crimes, as Sen. Rand Paul did earlier this week. Calls for an end to these terrible, repressive tactics from both federal and local officials are thoroughly bipartisan, and Lynch's defense of them should inspire concern from elected senators. Polls also show more and more Americans thinking marijuana bans are absurd, yet Lynch sat before a Senate subcommittee and wouldn't even agree to the fact that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.
Lynch has some genuinely bad opinions on certain important civil liberties, whatever a civil liberties group rallying to her side and threatening the lamest hunger strike ever devised by man may argue. "Alternating fasting days" is not a hunger strike, National Action Network. It sounds like a fad diet.
If Lynch's nomination fails, though, it probably won't even be because of her actual positions that are harmful to civil liberties. Bush is not entirely wrong to bring up the partisan nature of the vote. But maybe it's the Democrats in the Senate who should be rethinking their blind allegiance to party in their vote, maybe spend more energy exploring the role the Department of Justice has played in violating citizens' rights, and examine Lynch's support of some of these policies.
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