If conservatives really were concerned about principles as opposed to just opposing Obama, they would have been happy about the appointment of Cass Sunstein to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Unfortunately, just as many conservatives use the language of limited government and fiscal responsibility while promoting the opposite, they also use the language of libertarianism while having no regard for actually supporting liberty. Rather than supporting Sunstein for his libertarian-leaning views on regulation, many conservatives have subjected him to a smear campaign. As is typical of right wing smear campaigns, they take selections from his writings out of context and apply totally different meanings to them. The ditto heads who follow the right, but never actually read the views which are being distorted, then repeat the smears.
While such smear campaigns based upon misinformation are a common strategy of the right, David Weigel found that a handful of conservatives have considered Sunstein’s views and are frustrated by the attacks on him. Many independents such as myself, who oppose the policies of the Republicans but do not necessarily support the typical Democratic agenda, saw the influence of people such as Sunstein on Obama as a welcome change from typical Democratic views. Some conservatives realize that, even if they don’t completely agree with Sunstein’s views, his views are far friendlier to libertarian beliefs than those of many other liberal Democrats:
In January, the libertarian blogger and law professor Glenn Reynolds wrote a hearty endorsement of Sunstein, telling readers that the nomination “shows that the Obama Administration is perhaps willing to look at new and less intrusive approaches to regulation.” Today, he sees the lengthy campaign against Sunstein as an unflattering example of “how the messed-up appointments process works.”
“I think he should be confirmed,” Reynolds told TWI. “Do I think Sunstein will push a hunting ban? No. Do I think he’s sympathetic to hunting, particularly? No. But what Obama appointee is likely to be? As the Van Jones affair indicates, there are a lot of people worthy of more concern than Sunstein. If I were advising Republicans, I’d tell them to focus their attentions elsewhere.”
That advice was echoed by Ed Morrissey, a conservative blogger at HotAir.com, which published dozens of posts about Jones until he finally withdrew. “I’d prefer to see someone more conservative or moderate in [Sunstein's] position,” said Morrissey, “if it should exist at all. I’m not going to endorse Sunstein, but don’t think that he presents a good target for Republicans to attack. I think that there is a big problem with lumping the ‘czars’ in with those like Sunstein who need Senate approval and have Congressional oversight.”
Ilya Somin, a libertarian law professor at George Mason University, has written at the popular Volokh Conspiracy lawblog that “the czar system does circumvent the regular appointment and confirmation process.” Like Morrissey and Reynolds, he was critical of Beck and other Sunstein critics.
“Sunstein has nothing to do with the ‘czars’ or the problems with the ‘czars,’” said Somin. “The ironic thing is that anybody else who might be appointed to this job would be less qualified, and more liberal. I disagree with what Sunstein writes in ‘Nudge.’ But what he advocates is not as bad as the views likely to be held by other people who could run [the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs].”
Ed Morrissey responds to the article here.
Much of the article also deals with the appointment of a variety of “czars” in the executive branch who do not need to be confirmed by the Senate. The manner in which a single Senator can block an appointment based upon fallacious arguments demonstrates why, right or wrong, there is such a desire to circumvent the confirmation process. Possibly frustration over not being able to block some appointees in the Senate has led to a greater desire to block Obama appointees who do require Senate confimation such as Sunstein.This includes the usual false attacks from the totally irrational Glenn Beck:
In the face of that criticism, hardened by the “czars” controversy, Sunstein’s supporters remain frustrated by their lack of progress. Richard Epstein, a libertarian-leaning law professor at the University of Chicago who edited a book about the 2000 election with Sunstein, told TWI that he supported Sunstein’s nomination “notwithstanding the many substantive disagreements between us.”
“The Beck stuff,” said Epstein, “is well over the top.”