Communication Breakdown, It's Always the Same
12-29-2009
Back when we were talking about who would get the Supreme Court vacancy now filled by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one name that kept popping up on various insider lists of potential nominees was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  Media types and political observers cited President Obama’s desire to appoint someone from outside of academia and the bench to the Supreme Court, and they noted his close relationship with Napolitano, one based on a great deal of mutual admiration and trust.
 
At the time, I wrote that I thought her nomination was a real long shot. I based this conclusion not on an assessment of her legal qualifications, but on the shaky start to her tenure as Homeland Security chief, especially in the eyes of Senate Republicans who would be voting on her confirmation to the court. Since that time back in May, I have continued to hear political observers talk about Napolitano as having the inside track on the next Supreme Court vacancy to come the Obama Administration’s way.
 
If there is any truth to those rumors, my guess is that Napolitano’s performance over the weekend, in the wake of the failed airline terrorist attack, will likely put the whole issue to rest. Napolitano’s the system worked comment on the Sunday morning talk shows has already been memorialized as a classic in misguided bureaucracy-speak. Even if she was actually fed the talking point by the White House, cabinet secretaries traditionally shoulder the blame for these kinds of systemic failures. So, I would be surprised to hear Napolitano mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee again in the future, even if she manages to keep her cabinet position.


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