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April 14, 2009

MORE ON DAWN JOHNSEN: Earlier, I noted my agreement with this post on why Dawn Johnsen should be confirmed. Let me spell things out a bit more. Some people don’t like Dawn Johnsen because she’s a liberal feminist. Okay, fine — if you’re President, you don’t have to name somebody like that to the Office of Legal Counsel. But the chance that Obama will name someone who’s to the right of Dawn Johnsen is relatively low, so if you succeed in knocking her off, you’ll still get a lefty. Just a different one.

What kind of different one? Well, Johnsen has spent years arguing for openness and independence in the OLC. In that position, she’s likely to try to live up to those arguments, both because she believes them, and because she knows that people will be watching to see if she can live up to the standards she set out. This will probably constrain her, and by extension, Obama, to a degree that won’t apply if you succeed in knocking her off and she’s replaced by someone more in the mold of Eric Holder or Rahm Emanuel. This would seem to me to be a feature, not a bug. But hey, if you disagree, by all means oppose her confirmation. Just don’t complain when someone more pliable gets named instead.

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