Presidents appoint cronies. Yeah, it’s sad. And I really wish we could stop it, like having candidates discuss who their appointees might be before the election, not getting to swear them in without question afterwards. And I of course feel W has been worse on this than recent presidents, but it is not at all new. Really, this is how things are done and it’s usually unremarked.
Kennedy made his brother attorney general. LBJ put his personal lawyer on the Supreme Court, and tried to put him up for Chief Justice. Don’t even get started with Nixon. The fact is when you’ve just been made the most powerful man in the world, you generally don’t skimp for your friends. This is very sad, but true.
The thing about the Supreme Court, is simply that it’s for life. These crony appointments last more than just the political term, and there’s no chance to pass judgement on them. So the intelligentsia gets double-plus haughty saying they expected a well-respected technocrat or ideologue to get the job, not some mediocre friend for the past twenty years. But if a guy never appoints technocrats and experienced officials for anything else, why do you think this will be different? It’s just one more self-serving appointment out of many.
Either don’t make Supreme Court appointments for life, or have the gall to ask a nominee who they will appoint before they get elected. If we don’t switch to either, we’re going to see William Taft’s, Abe Fortas’, and Harriet Miers’ for the rest of the Republic’s span.