Suzy Khimm reports that the Senate confirmed a district judge today, over the objections of six diehard Republicans, led by Mike Lee of Utah, who had threatened to block every nomination to retaliate for Barack Obama's recess appointments. That sort of retaliation, apparently, is not going to happen.
To which I'll say: called it!
OK, it's not my style to pat myself on the back too often, but it's worth doing here because if I could see it, then Obama's Congressional liaison people should be been able to see it. And that means they should have had him threatening to use and then using the recess appointment power right from the beginning. He should have made it clear that he considered the 60 vote Senate on executive branch nominations absolutely unacceptable, and I suspect he could have made it stick. Not on bills, and not on judicial nominations (where recess appointments are not very valuable compared to the lifetime tenure for regular confirmations), but certainly on exec branch appointments.
There are limits to how often Obama or any president would want to use recess appointments, even in the executive branch. And, to tell the truth, a president who tried to bypass a reasonable Senate would correctly be taken to task by virtually everyone in Washington (at which point the Senate would probably retaliate by really staying in session). But other than that kind of abuse, regular and aggressive use of that Constitutional power increases, not decreases, a president's leverage in the Senate. Obama has been wrong on this one from 2009 on, and if he does win a second term it's one area where dramatic improvement is possible.