Attorney General Nominee Faces Confirmation Fight

Republicans concerned about Holder's involvement in clemencies, pardon of fugitive

bailouts. They’ll also want to know where Geithner stands on such issues as securities industry regulation, how best to stimulate the economy, and how to provide relief to ordinary citizens.

“Both Democrats and Republicans feel like something was put over on them and that the Bush administration wasn’t forthcoming and honest with them, and they don’t want to get fooled again. They’re concerned that Geithner was part of the decision-making process on some of these bailouts and they’re going to want to ensure that we don’t move forward with billions of dollars more in corporate welfare,” says Darling.

Cardin believes that the confirmation should be viewed as more of a desire to develop yardsticks and an understanding of a nominee’s vision for how an agency should move forward than a challenge on his or her qualifications. He says, “We want to establish benchmarks and get an understanding of how the nominee will approach a particular problem. It’s not so much to challenge their qualifications to serve or even to make decisions about whether to support them or not as it is to determine their priorities.”

The incoming Obama administration recently experienced a setback when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his nomination to become commerce secretary because of a federal investigation of state contracts awarded to a political contributor.

“You do wonder what went on there and would have thought the investigation would have come up. There was an assumption by Obama’s team that Richardson had already been vetted as a presidential candidate, so they didn’t have to do a whole lot. They slipped up,” says Michael Tanner, a Cato Institute senior fellow.

He believes that Obama has built up enough good will that he won’t be hurt by the Richardson withdrawal. It may, however, hurt Democrats in general, because it adds to an emerging pattern of cultural corruption that includes Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, who is facing an ethics probe. “This doesn’t help the Democratic brand. They were supposed to be different from Republicans and now they’re looking more like them,” Tanner says.

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