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Will the Senate Rubber-Stamp Power's Contempt?

I don’t believe in permanent international institutions. They serve the interests of the institutions, not the American people. We’d be much better served by ad hoc collaborations with real allies -- collaborations that lapse when the transient conditions for entering them lapse. Geopolitics presents countless scenarios in which China, Russia, the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and even our occasionally cantankerous European friends can frustrate our national interests. Why, in addition to all that, we should cede them legal rights to undermine us, and pay dearly for the privilege, is a mystery to me.

Consequently, I don’t think we should participate in the U.N. scheme at all. But the bipartisan Beltway clerisy is hyper-invested in it -- much more so, I’d wager, than the public -- so I am not daft enough to think we are going to pull out any time soon. That being the case, I would certainly see the sense in supporting a strongly pro-American ambassador -- a John Bolton or Jeane Kirkpatrick who could be trusted in that hostile arena to pursue our vital interests and overmatch the anti-Americans.

With President Obama, in stark contrast, we have an administration that shares the U.N.’s predilections, including its desire that Americans be ruled by transnational progressive pieties, rather than determine their own destiny. As a result, I find myself unable to get worked up over which Obama operative carries out the president’s misbegotten policies at the U.N. The problem is the U.N. and Obama’s affinity for it. To oppose Power for a gig at the anti-American U.N. because she holds opinions that I’m confident Mr. Obama enthusiastically shares would imply that I believe the U.N. would be a better deal for America if only the president would pick one of his other friends. I don’t. If Congress really wants to do something worthwhile, let it work on cutting the U.N.’s funding, blocking its treaties, and enacting laws that protect our constitutional rights against U.N. encroachments. Then Obama and whoever his ambassador is could do less damage.

All that said, though, obstruction of necessary governmental processes is a different, more serious matter. By confirming Ms. Power, the Senate would effectively be saying that congressional hearings are a clown show. Lawmakers would be inviting future witnesses to treat them with the same contempt Ms. Power exhibited. Imagine …

Q:     Did you, as an IRS bureaucrat, target conservative groups on orders from your superiors?

A:      I think America is the greatest country in the world because it guarantees free expression for all Americans….

Q:     Can you tell us what the president was doing between 6pm and 2am while Americans were under siege in Benghazi?

A:      The president believes American is the greatest country in the world, and as he has said many times, he takes his duties as commander-in-chief extremely seriously….

Q:     Did you, Mr. Attorney General, approve a search-warrant application that represented to the court that a member of the media was not just a witness but had committed a serious felony?

A:      I think America is the greatest country in the world because it guarantees freedom of the press in a robust marketplace of ideas.

Q:     But didn’t you tell the court that a member of the press had done enough to be prosecuted before telling us under oath that you’d never considered prosecuting members of the press?

A:      Well, America being the greatest country in the world and all, I can’t tell you how much I admire the Framers for giving us a Congress I so admire and a court system I so admire so that journalists can do the vital work we all so admire….

You get the drift. Why should anyone ever again answer a significant question in a congressional hearing about a matter of public interest? And why pretend that confirmation hearings are anything other than theater -- why convene them at all -- if the nominee gets to give the soliloquies of her choosing and thumb her nose at all confrontational lines of inquiry? Those would be the lines most revealing about her suitability, the ones that go to the essence of the Senate’s constitutional duty to evaluate high-level appointees.

I was fortunate to appear before scores of excellent federal judges in many years as a government lawyer. I cannot think of a single one who would have let Samantha Power pull what she pulled in the Senate foreign relations committee on Wednesday. They had too much self-respect.

Does the Senate have any?

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)