President Obama certainly has the right to nominate whom he wants for political appointments in his administration. In general and within reason, some deference by the Senate to those selections is appropriate.
But Kathleen Sebelius is so clearly the wrong person to lead HHS that even the president should be able to see it. Indeed, if confirmed, she is sure to make it more difficult for him to achieve his primary objectives.
Sebelius’s record on abortion can only be described as radical. In fact, that record and her longtime associations with the abortion industry are more than enough to convince a large segment of the population that she does not share their values and cannot be trusted with overseeing anything important — much less matters that touch on life and death.
But President Obama also wants to expand the government’s reach into how medicine is practiced through a health-care reform bill. His nomination of Sebelius will complicate that effort considerably. The mere presence of Sebelius at the top of HHS will be enough to push millions of pro-life Americans into adamant opposition to the whole health-care reform enterprise. The president and his team may think it won’t matter — that they can pass their bill anyway. But passing a massive and expensive health-care bill was going to be complicated enough without a fight with social conservatives. The president didn’t need to alienate a sizeable portion of the electorate with a controversial selection for HHS — but he did. He has made his choice, and I think he will come to regret it.
[Cross-posted at the Corner]