Tom Shannon is a career foreign service officer. He’s also US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. Has been since 2005. Was appointed to the job by George W Bush. Five months ago, Barack Obama appointed him to be Ambassador to Brazil. He’s obviously well-qualified. He sailed through committee. And then because Jim DeMint is a bad human being, he was subjected to a months-long hold. Then DeMint relented. So now it’s Senator George LeMieux of Florida’s turn to screw things up with a hold.
Neither DeMint nor LeMieux invented the abuse of the hold procedure, but the Republican Party of the 111th congress has taken this to such new heights that it’s about time the Senate take some responsibility and start organizing itself like a legislative body of an important country and not like a country club. The ability for one senator to delay confirmation of key executive branch personnel indefinitely for no real reason has never been a good idea. At times, this power has been abused to advance policy goals I believe in. Oftentimes it’s used to advance bad policy goals. More recently, it just seems to be being used as a matter of principle—maximum feasible obstruction. It needs to be changed.