January 3, 2009
While you sleep
Ah, January 20, noon, out with Bush, in with Obama, Huzzah! As Jim Doyle said years ago, "Its a new day!" (Perhaps not as new as we would have it but new is good.)
Will the new president succumb to the "Washington Way," condemned by candidate Obama, or will he choose the road less traveled?
Take the selection of the new U.S. Attorneys in Milwaukee and Madison as a little test. In a sense, the selection process is the Wisconsin State Journal's dream. Yes, indeed, merit selection. (WSJ tells us to take our judicial election process and jam it.) Merit--not small "d" democracy, will inexplicably give us better and more independent justices than publicly funded elections would.
I can imagine the WSJ editors' dream of an appointive system with transparency. An open system that will give us the best and the brightest! Solid academic credentials will trump 30-second spots. The people will participate in an open forum sponsored by WMC and WSJ, and they will find out who is appointed and why. (The Tooth Fairy is ex officio)
Here is the reality of the Washington Way process now in place. I am not making this up. There is an 11-member Federal Nomination Commission (FNC) that will decide who gets on the list for these two highly paid and nice jobs. Plums, if you please.
You may never learn how the FNC members got appointed in the first place but, hey!, democracy is messy business. You can't have it all! Shut-up!
These 11 wise people, through a secret process, will give Obama a couple of choices. Who is on the FNC? Our two Senators appoint eight members; the Main Depot Bar appoints two members; the Dean of the UW Law School appoints one. (Just kidding. The State Bar not the Main Depot appoints 2.)
Would we be asking too much if we suggest to Herb and Russ to tell us the names and credentials of their eight nominees to the 11-member Commission?
If the new president rejects the status quo and goes his own way, buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.
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