Once upon a time, we could have expected the following sequence: After considerable debate, Congress would have passed a bill creating an agency. The president would then nominate someone to head that agency. That nomination would be considered on its merits by the Senate.
But this is now. The president has nominated Richard Cordray, an able, experienced and thoughtful former state attorney general who has a record of achievement in protecting individuals against financial abuse, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And the Republican minority in the Senate has announced that it intends to deny any consideration of the individual whom the president has nominated pursuant to his constitutional prerogative. They will do that by blatantly distorting the Constitution, substituting a refusal to allow the constitutionally mandated nomination process for the legislative process in which they simply do not have the votes to accomplish what they want.
Cordray is just the latest capable, dedicated public servant to fall victim to a Republican mugging. He joins Joseph Smith, the banking commissioner of North Carolina who recently drew unanimous bipartisan support from the North Carolina General Assembly for his renomination; Peter Diamond, a Nobel laureate in economics who was nominated to serve on the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors; and others as collateral damage of the Senate Republicans’ war on financial regulation in particular and the Obama presidency in general. Cordray’s record as attorney general of Ohio puts him in a small group of people able to act effectively to deal with the mortgage crisis. No one has raised any questions about his intelligence, integrity or dedication.