Presidents should get who they want for cabinet, bench. Plus: Stop time changes. Harry & Meghan.

By Gary Abernathy

Presidents should get who they want for cabinet, bench

The Senate is slogging through the process of confirming President Biden’s cabinet picks, a procedure that has been made unnecessarily contentious by both parties over the years. Decades ago, the Senate’s “advice and consent” role was viewed as somewhat ceremonial in nature. We should return to that philosophy, both on cabinet nominations and judicial choices.

“To the victor go the spoils,” and winning the presidency comes with the right to choose your cabinet and put judges and justices of your choice on the bench. These protracted hearings we’ve all grown accustomed to witnessing are ridiculous when most nominees have long records in public service or the private sector. No one right out of high school or college gets nominated for a cabinet post or a seat on the federal judiciary.

The game is to try to find some embarrassing incident or statement from the past, or trip up a nominee into saying something that gets caught in the 24-hour news cycle that might be nurtured into a full-blown controversy. Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, dropped out after she failed to gain any GOP support and then lost Democrat Joe Manchin, all because of some “abrasive tweets,” as USA Today put it. The newspaper noted that “Tanden led the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress for a decade, during which she gained a reputation as a partisan warrior who frequently targeted Republican lawmakers on Twitter and feuded with progressives including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.”

So what? Is it surprising that Biden wants some partisan progressive Democrats in his cabinet, just as Republican presidents want partisan conservative Republicans? The fact they’ve been open about their partisanship should hardly be disqualifying.

Imagine a world where Supreme Court picks don’t have to endure dramatic soap opera-style Senate grillings. Yes, the Constitution provides the Senate the power to weigh in and even derail a nomination. But we need to return to a day when the Senate respects a president’s wide latitude to make his (or, someday, her) choices, even when they’re controversial. That comes with winning the White House. These games of “gotcha” should end, and maybe Republicans could set the example that Democrats would feel compelled to follow next time the GOP wins the White House.

Time change this weekend to weirdly bright evenings

Daylight Savings Time returns this weekend – spring forward one hour before going to bed Saturday night – and to pick a side, I don’t like it. Most people I know want to keep the same time year-round, without the forward and backward hassle. Most of them also prefer the summer hours, when we get more daylight hours in the evening.

Naturally, I’m the opposite. I prefer what we call “standard time,” which is what I think of as real time, as it was meant to be. If I ruled the world, and why shouldn’t I, I wouldn’t be doing a time change this weekend. As we get into May and June, it will still be lighter later into the evening, but not that late. To me, there’s something weirdly unnatural when it’s still daylight at 9 p.m.

Darkness is good for us. It helps us begin to relax. The world gets quieter when it gets darker outside. Those are good things. But I know I lose that argument, and if we ever do agree to stop changing the clocks, the majority will win and we’ll have Daylight Savings Time year-round. So I’ll enjoy “real time” while I can.

Harry and Meghan: Now back to important things

I didn’t see it when it aired, but after watching and reading highlights from Harry and Meghan’s (no other identification necessary) interview with Oprah (same there), I’m not really feeling the love. Did Meghan not understand what joining the royal family entailed? Did she not watch any biopics or read any books about her late mother-in-law? As to their claims about comments that were allegedly made about their baby’s skin tone, until they’re willing to name names – they have since said it wasn’t the queen or Prince Phillip -- it’s hard to draw conclusions. Who said it, the gardener?

Good luck to them both. As with all things involving the royal family, it has virtually no impact on the rest of us. It exists for diversionary purposes only. Along those lines, I do enjoy “The Crown.”

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