the Republicans don't believe in anything. They exist in a principles vacuum. They are genuine nihilists. The only way they can try to approximate a feeling of being alive is to be opposed to whatever Obama or the Democrats are for. ....They are a cult of zombies.
Once upon a time, a norm existed that presidents had right to choose the people they wanted to staff the executive branch. Once upon a time? I mean — from the beginning of the republic right up to January 2009. Oh, Senators could and did use the nomination to affect policy — both individual Senators and, at times, the partisan opposition would demand specific policy commitments before confirming nominees.
But what’s happened since Barack Obama took office is far, far, off the scale of any of that. And because it’s been accompanied by the use of the filibuster — the sudden demand for a 60 vote Senate on executive branch nominations — it’s entirely dysfunctional.
We now have Jeff Sessions attacking Jack Lew for — get this — lack of “gravitas.” Not drinking too much, or violating obscure laws, but…well, Sessions just doesn’t like the cut of his jib, or something like that. Or, as Kevin Drum figures, it’s just that Lew insists on using real math during budget negotiations.