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Keith Olbermann:

I happend to catch the very beginning of "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann. His lead story was on John McCain's statement that if he were President he would "fire" Chris Cox as Chairman of the SEC, explaining that the Chairman of the SEC is appointed by and serves at the will of the President.

Olbermann sarcastically commented that McCain needs to learn about constitutional law and that it would be "unconstitutional" to try to fire the head of the SEC. He says that MSNBC's legal advisor (I missed his first name and I don't really watch NBC or MSNBC but I think it is somebody named Williams) told him this, referring to a "1935 case where the Supreme Court held that it would be unconstitutional to fire a member of an independent agency."

Well, no. Actually, he's not even close.

First, of course, the case he is referring to is Humphrey's Executor v. United States, which was triggered when FDR tried to remove a sitting member of the FTC. The Supreme Court did not hold that removing a Commissioner was unconstitutional; it held that Congress could provide for limitations on the President's removal power over members of independent agencies. So this is just intellectual confusion on Olbermann's part. I had a quote from Humphrey's Executor as my screensaver when I was at the FTC (how's that for nerdy?).

Second, there is a more practical confusion. Olbermann, and perhaps Williams too, are confused as to what McCain said and what the President can do. True, the President cannot fire a member of an independent agency. But the Chairman does serve as Chairman at the discretion of the President. The President can designate any of the 5 members of the Commission as Chairman. Or change the designation. Confirmation to be a Commissioner requires Senate confirmation; confirmation to be Chair does not. The Chairmanship of independent agencies does not operate the same way as the Supreme Court. For the Supreme Court, a sitting Justice who is elevated to Chief must be reconfirmed for the new post. But a sitting Commissioner who is designated Chair does not need a separate confirmation. Thus, the President can "fire" Cox by removing him as Chair but cannot fire him as a Commissioner.

So, for instance, when Bill Kovacic was elevated to Chairman of the FTC this spring, he became Chairman, not Acting Chairman. Because he was already confirmed as a Commissioner. Similarly, Janet Steiger was Chairman of the FTC under Bush I. When Clinton was elected, he appointed Bob Pitofsky to the Commission and made him Chair. Steiger stayed on as a non-Chairman Commissioner.

A quick search of the history of the SEC rules and regs indicates that the President was given the power to name the Chairman from the group of confirmed Commissioners in a set of regulations adopted during the Truman Administration.

As to the first point, my guess is that the error is probably Olbermann's in misunderstanding what the network legal correspondent was saying. As for the second, it seems quite plausible that the legal correspondent was simply unaware of how a Chairman of an independent agency is appointed. But then again, that's a good reason to be a little more humble and a bit less sarcastic in challenging someone else's knowledge. Regardless, both of these errors are pretty inexcusable, it seems to me.

Update:

Here's McCain's comment:

The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and, in my view, has betrayed the public's trust," McCain told a rally in this battleground state. "If I were president today, I would fire him."

Update:

The clip from Countdown is here (it is #5 on the Countdown). "Maybe you can brief the Senator on constitutional law while you are at it." Olbermann says that the person he talked to is Pete Williams and he is a political correspondent, not a legal correspondent.

Update:

Steve Bainbridge has more, including some of the caselaw and commentary.

Tony Tutins (mail):
So the President can demote the Chairman but not fire him? Do I have that right?
9.18.2008 11:45pm
Zywicki (mail):
Correct.
9.18.2008 11:48pm
Zywicki (mail):
Or put differently, he can "fire" him as Chairman--which is what McCain said.
9.18.2008 11:49pm
NickW:
But are the people listening to McCain really going to realize what he means by "fire him as Chairman"? Or do they think McCain means he would completely remove Cox from the SEC?
9.18.2008 11:51pm
I'll Be Here All Night:
Is there any indication that McCain was speaking of demoting the chair rather than removing him entirely from the SEC as the natural reading of his language suggests?
9.18.2008 11:52pm
hawkins:
Olberman's smugness makes me want to agree with your second point. However, when someone uses the word "fire," Im not so sure it includes a demotion.
9.18.2008 11:59pm
taney71:
From what I understood of the case the commission had to have particular functions in order for limits to be placed on a president's removal power. That came originally from the rather pro-executive Myers decision. Humphrey's merely took that dicta and ran with it:


The commission is to be nonpartisan, and it must, from the very nature of its duties, act with entire impartiality. It is charged with the enforcement of no policy except the policy of the law. Its duties are neither political nor executive, but predominantly quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative.
9.19.2008 12:01am
Does it Matter?:
I doubt Olbermann was as smug when Obama suggested that the U.S. go the Security Council to obtain a resolution condemning the invasion of Georgia. I'm sure it was just an oversight, though.
9.19.2008 12:03am
AndrewK (mail):
Even if the President couldn't demote or fire the Chairman in any relevant sense, he obviously can bring put a lot of pressure on him. The President can put a lot of pressure on specific members of Congress too. When I first heard the quote, all I got from the actual content of what McCain wanted was (1) I'm displeased with Cox, and (2) I would actually do something about this displeasure. But in the context of 2004 it would have fit nicely into the narrative of "Bush is an idiot" and in the context of 2008 is fits nicely into the narrative of "McCain is power-hungry." Don't look for a clarification per your informative post: this would rain on the parade.
9.19.2008 12:05am
Smokey:
Somewhat O/T. But only slightly.

BTW - Olberman sucks. Big time.
9.19.2008 12:07am
Simon P:
The VC continues to devote itself to trivial minutiae related to the campaign.

Personally, I'm more concerned that McCain, whose strong suit is supposedly in "foreign policy," either doesn't know who Zapatero is or would antagonize him as an unfriendly head of state. I'm also concerned that McCain feels no need to present a concrete plan of action in dealing with this financial crisis and chooses instead to speak in platitudes and over-generalizations.

For some reason, these much more serious suggestions of McCain's limitations don't surface on the VC's page; instead we get a lot of stuff like this. VC contributors parse some mini-dispute, usually tending to portray the MSM as inexcusably biased in favor of Obama, or unfairly biased against McCain or Palin, or casting some Obama misstatement as more important than it is, or what have you.

Olbermann's failure to grasp the political standing of the SEC is a bit glaring, one has to admit, when he's accusing McCain of failing to understand the SEC himself. But what of it? Devoting 750 words to this is like devoting 750 words to the "terrorist fist bump." Are you a pundit? Is that how you want to portray yourself in the VC?
9.19.2008 12:09am
therut (mail):
Most of what Olbermann rants about he gets off lefty blogs. (like DU). If you read their blogs you pretty well know what will be on his show. The guy is good at what he does but I will bet he has a mental breakdown at sometime within the next 5 years. He just seems totally unstable and on the edge.
9.19.2008 12:09am
Does it Matter?:
You people kill me. McCain is unfairly attacked, people defend him, and the people defend him are the ones engaged in the wrongdoing.

Hah!
9.19.2008 12:12am
Casper the Friendly Guest:
Oh puh-leeze. When I hear someone say they got fired, it does not mean that their title got changed. It means that they got canned. Pack up your stuff, you are out.

Olberman may not have been 100% correct, but he was a lot closer to the truth than McCain. At any rate, I'd expect a four-term Senator to know a bit more about how independent agencies work than a second-rate Max Headroom wannabe. Typical McCain bluster - all tough talk, no substance to back it up.
9.19.2008 12:12am
Mott Woolley (mail):
Wasn't the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in part over the power of a president, or the lack thereof, to remove a civil servant sitting as head of an "independent" agency.
9.19.2008 12:13am
Dave N (mail):
Simon P.,

As other conspirators have suggested to other posters who don't like specific topics, "Don't let the door hit you on your way out."

But even if you stay, there is nothing that required you to read this particular thread. I skip the ones that don't interest me all the time.
9.19.2008 12:13am
hawkins:

I doubt Olbermann was as smug when Obama suggested that the U.S. go the Security Council to obtain a resolution condemning the invasion of Georgia. I'm sure it was just an oversight, though.


Exactly how was Obama smug in suggesting this?

Also, he may not have realized Russia's ability to veto (debatable), but McCain called for the same resolution (albeit, while expressly stating that Russia does have veto power).
9.19.2008 12:13am
Dave N (mail):
I am sure John McCain is real happy that he didn't pick Chris Cox as his running mate.
9.19.2008 12:14am
Does it Matter?:
hawkins

Try re-reading the post. You have your subject and object mixed up.
9.19.2008 12:16am
hawkins:

Try re-reading the post. You have your subject and object mixed up.


Thanks. I added an extra "as" in there ("as smug as when...")
9.19.2008 12:19am
ChrisIowa (mail):

Exactly how was Obama smug in suggesting this?


Hawkins, the part you quoted is saying that Olberman was Smug, not Obama.
9.19.2008 12:19am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
<wild dream>
Hopefully one of these days independant agencies shall be completely repudiated. Yeah, right.
</wild dream>
9.19.2008 12:21am
Does it Matter?:
No problem, Hawkins. I do that all the time. That's why I tried not to be too snarky about it.
9.19.2008 12:24am
rrr (mail):
Simon P., that was an absolute riot! You ought to take that show on the road.

Hey, at least you weren't as sanctimonious as Casper! Puh-leeze!
9.19.2008 12:24am
Dave N (mail):
Matt Wooley,

Andrew Johnson was not impeached for firing the head of an independent agency. He was impeached for firing the Secretary of War.

And the person he fired was not a "civil servant," it was Edwin Stanton, who had served in the position under Abraham Lincoln.

Congress had passed the Tenure in Office Act (over Johnson's veto). Under that Act, the President could not fire someone confirmed by the Senate unless he also had permission from the Senate. Though the act itself was repealed in 1887, in 1926 the Supreme Court, in Myers v. United States, opined that the Tenure in Office Act was unconstitutional.
9.19.2008 12:27am
Simon P:
Dave N:

I have never really understood the nature of that response. Are you saying that criticism is unwanted here? Are you saying that you (or conspirators) oppose the diversity of expressed criticism?

What you can't be saying is: "If you don't like reading this blog, then don't read it." It's a condition that's not met by any person who does continue to read this blog. That is to say, the fact that I do read VC posts, or Todd's posts in particular, ought to suggest to you and these "other conspirators" that I do "like" reading this blog; this inference follows also from the fact that I read blog posts on particular subject matters.

To respond to criticism by saying, "If you don't like it, leave," ought to strike anyone with any sense as extremely immature. Would any conspirator respond to professional criticism, offered by colleagues at their respective institution, or by co-colloquium or symposium attendants, or by other experts in their respective fields, with the answer, "If you don't like what I have to say, don't read it"? No, of course not. They properly understand themselves in that context to be participating in an intellectual endeavor of mutual benefit; they benefit from criticism, in other words.

My own criticism is offered in the same spirit, though the subjects are not so lofty and the format is not quite so rigorous. I want this blog and my thoughts prompted by it to be the best they can be.
9.19.2008 12:33am
TomHynes (mail):
<i>But then again, that's a good reason to be a little more humble and a bit less sarcastic in challenging someone else's knowledge </i>

Todd, was that a subtle preemptive dig at commenters?
9.19.2008 12:35am
A.S.:
No, Prof. Zywicki is incorrect. The President certainly CAN fire a Commissioner (not just demote the Chairman) - but only for cause. However, as the DC Circuit pointed out, the power of the President to remove SEC Commisioners for cause is a "removal power the Supreme Court has interpretted broadly." Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, slip op at 23-24 (D.C. Cir. August 22, 2008), citing Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U.S. 714, 726 (1986).
9.19.2008 12:44am
buzz (mail):
"So this is just intellectual confusion on Olbermann's part."
Olbermann has always had the confusion part down. Not sure where you see the intellectual.
9.19.2008 1:00am
Dave N (mail):
Simon P,

Perhaps I came across as a bit snarky. If I did, I apologize. However, my overall point stands. Professor Zywicki has had few posts on the election. Of the posts by all the Conspirators today, 3 were, at best, tangentially related to the election campaign. The other 10 were not.

Professor Zywicki has posted 5 threads today--only one about the 2008 Presidential campaign.

You don't like the threads, or consider them minutiae, or whatever. I get that. But you have plenty of options if you don't like what the Conspirators post here. It's their playground. The rest of us are just visitors.
9.19.2008 1:00am
nlcatter:
Mccain can not FIRE , but only demote him to regular commissioner.
9.19.2008 1:03am
texpat (www):
The correction offered by Professor Zywicki is interesting and informative. However, the very idea Keith Olberman cares, in the slightest, whether he has the facts in order is laughable. Facts in evidence have never concerned Olberman in the past so to extend that courtesy to him now is generous beyond the call of duty.

It seems to me the President, even if prohibited from firing Cox, could exert serious pressure behind closed doors and publicly voice no confidence in the Chairman. There are ways to accomplish goals without statutory sanction.
9.19.2008 1:04am
BP:
"I had a quote from Humphrey's Executor as my screensaver when I was at the FTC (how's that for nerdy?)."
What was the quote?
9.19.2008 1:05am
SAADIQnotanotheridealogue:
C'mon Prof. Zywicki, what's inexcusable is your intellectual dishonesty in defending McCain!

In your clamor to take shots at Olbermann and MSNBC you decided that McCain's use of the term "fire" is somehow open to interpretation??

I'm sure you've heard of this legal rule of STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION/INTERPRETATION:


"The plain, ordinary, and popular sense of the words, is to be preferred to the more unusual, etymological, and recondite meaning or even to the literal, and strictly grammatical construction of the words, where these last would lead to any inefficacy or inconsistency."



The plain, ordinary and popular sense of "Fire" is confusing to you?
Or perhaps you're just choosing to be recondite??

It seems the real confusion (not your feigned confusion) is entirely in McCain's mind as HE is the one that does not know the parameters of the SEC Chairman position and HE is the one assuming that he needs to actually "fire" Chris Cox to remove him from his post. And not coincidentally, McCain is the presidential candidate not Olbermann, and McCain volunteered the (prepared) quote, so it's McCain's confusion that's inexcusable.

Or maybe McCain just needs to learn that "Remove" is not synonymous with "Fire", I'm sure you can teach him the difference.
9.19.2008 1:08am
Cornellian (mail):
Technically it would be a violation of the Constitution for the President to fire an SEC commissioner in the face of a statute saying he doesn't have the power to do that - a violation of the clause of the Constitution that requires the President to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

You're reading Olbermann's comment to mean that it would be inherently unconstitutional for a president ever to fire an SEC commissioner (or at least the SEC chair) but that's not what he said.

So if we're going to give McCain the benefit of nuance and say maybe he meant "demote" instead of "fire" then let's give Olbermann the benefit of nuance too and say maybe he meant "a violation of the President's constitutional duties given the current statutory framework."

Anyway, Olbermann wouldn't be the first non-lawyer to use the term "unconstitutional" when he really means "unlawful."

I'd more surprised that McCain apparently didn't know he couldn't fire the SEC chair but then I have a hard time getting worked up even about that. McCain has never shown much interest in the subject and if he were President there'd be a lawyer standing by to point him to the statute if he ever got the idea of terminating the SEC chair.

And by the way, the current SEC Chair, Christopher Cox, knows about 10,000 times as much about financial regulation as McCain does, or ever will.
9.19.2008 1:10am
Cornellian (mail):
The more shocking thing about McCain I noticed today is that apparently he didn't know that Prime Minister Zapatero is the Prime Minister of Spain. Seems McCain thought he was president of some Latin American country. Oops.

I'm not generally a fan of the Trivial Pursuit game where you ask candidates the name of every obscure foreign leader, but Spain is kind of important.
9.19.2008 1:13am
A man, a Palin, nil. A Panama!:
I find this patten fascinating:

1. Candidate says something that is incorrect in some respect or evinces a lack of knowledge.

2. The error is pointed out by opponents and reported in the news.

3. Supporters of the candidate attack the attackers, refuse to accept there is any error at all, and come up with plausible, semi-plausible, or implausbile alternatives under which the candidate could be viewed as not entirely incorrect.

4. Candidate adopts the best of his or her supporters' explanations, though it's plain he or she did not have that in mind at the time.

Examples:
* Palin did not know what the Bush Doctrine is, regardless of whether a case can be made that the term is ambiguous.
* McCain did not understand what he was saying when refusing to meet with the Prime Minister of Spain, though he now appears to have adopted that as a bizarre feature of his foreign policy.
* McCain did not have in mind demoting the chairman to a commissioner, though through by squinting your eyes just right that could be seen as "firing" him.

Is it so hard to admit your guy made a mistake?
9.19.2008 1:15am
Elliot123 (mail):
I note McCain didn't say he would fire the full commission.
9.19.2008 1:17am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Of course, Humphrey's Executor was wrong. The notion that there's such a thing as an "independent agency" has no basis in our constitution.
9.19.2008 1:18am
Mike Keenan:
"Spain is kind of important"

Really?
9.19.2008 1:23am
nicestrategy (mail):
Inexcusable?

Olbermann is an annoying blowhard, and McCain's explanation satisfies the reasonable, but what beggars belief is the idea that McCain really meant demote, not fire, or that a Cable host is held to higher standards than Presidential candidates.


As other conspirators have suggested to other posters who don't like specific topics, "Don't let the door hit you on your way out."

But even if you stay, there is nothing that required you to read this particular thread. I skip the ones that don't interest me all the time.


The thought police on a libertarian blog — ROTFLMAO!!!!

Partisan nonsense coming from people who stake a claim to academic objectivity is always interesting, and it is always lame. Zywicki, Bernstein, and Lindgren are amusing, a discredit to this site, and totally deserving of being faced down nearly every time they stray into politics. I don't comment on the legal threads because that isn't a field of expertise of mine, so I lurk and learn. At the very least, it is helpful to expose myself to alternative points of view. But the political threads on VC are far too entertaining to pass up. Watching otherwise intelligent people who supposedly respect intelligence claim that Palin is equally or more ready to be President than Obama is theater of the absurd. Samuel Beckett would be proud.
9.19.2008 1:23am
LM (mail):
Olberman is a blowhard, so no surprise.

I expect more from McCain.
9.19.2008 1:24am
LM (mail):
SAADIQnotanotheridealogue,

C'mon Prof. Zywicki, what's inexcusable is your intellectual dishonesty in defending McCain!

What's the evidence he doesn't believe what he said?
9.19.2008 1:28am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Technically it would be a violation of the Constitution for the President to fire an SEC commissioner in the face of a statute saying he doesn't have the power to do that - a violation of the clause of the Constitution that requires the President to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
Dalton v. Specter says otherwise. The President exceeding his statutory powers does not automatically become a constitutional violation.
9.19.2008 1:30am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Samuel Beckett would be proud."

He might also ask what Obama has ever accomplished.
9.19.2008 1:31am
nicestrategy (mail):

You don't like the threads, or consider them minutiae, or whatever. I get that. But you have plenty of options if you don't like what the Conspirators post here. It's their playground. The rest of us are just visitors.


The comments fields, however, are basically open to the public. If they didn't want us to play, they wouldn't enable comments, or would only enable them for certain threads. Having a comments field only to receive accolades and hurrahs is no different than partisan Democrats tuning into Olbermann as a form of political porno. Pathetic.
9.19.2008 1:37am
MnZ:
I agree with the Obambots on this board. How dare Volokh conspiracy clear up a legal misconception proferred by the media? This is not a legal blog run by law professors...

...ehem.
9.19.2008 1:45am
texpat (www):
I thought the bar had been raised to an unapproachable height by Simon P for sneering arrogance and pomposity. Clearly I was wrong as we have a new contender in nicestrategy. Contributors to this site are allowed only to write on those subjects which he deems they are qualified. Nice strategy, nicestrategy, but really quite lame.
9.19.2008 1:48am
Dave N (mail):
nicestrategy,

Context is nice. No? Another poster complained that this was not a serious post. I responded to that. He countered. You then quote me without context.

I don't mind opposing views. In fact, I LIKE them. I learn things. I think new ways. Sometimes I even change my mind. If I wanted an echo chamber, there are plenty of places on the internet like that. I don't like posters who are jerks because they detract from my experience (and no, I am not refering to Simon P when I make this observation).

However, complaining that topics aren't important enough or that you disagree that they are even appropriate topics isn't particularly constructive. It's just a way of saying, "This blog isn't doing exactly what I want it to do."
9.19.2008 1:52am
nicestrategy (mail):

"Samuel Beckett would be proud."

He might also ask what Obama has ever accomplished.


It is hard to take this seriously, as if being a respected editor of the Harvard Law Review, being offered tenure at U Chicago Law School, writing 2 books, being a United States Senator, and building a new political movement from the ground up that defeated the Clintons in 4 years aren't accomplishments. Growing up with modest means and making it in academic and professional life isn't an accomplishment? (Unlike the silver spoon accomplishments of several recent candidates in both parties.) Getting 2.5 million people to donate money isn't an accomplishment? Giving very thoughtful speeches about partisanship (DNC 04), race, and various public policies (e.g. the recent Education speech) aren't accomplishments? Having President Bush (or should I say Rice/Gates/Paulson?) adopt some of your already stated policies may not be an accomplishment per se, but it is a validation of his generally good judgment, as was his correct judgment that going to war with Iraq was not in our national interest, no? And perhaps becoming the nation's first black President? Will that be an accomplishment?

Reasonable people can disagree as to whether Obama ought to have waited and acquired more Washington experience, or whether executive experience is a must-have. McCain being a long standing Senator with a safe seat isn't executive experience either, and commanding a military unit for a short period of time a long time ago does not compare to the Presidency not one iota, sorry. But still, I can see why people judged Richardson, Romney, Biden, Dodd or even Hillary Clinton as less risky choices for some aspects of Presidential leadership. Given the rank incompetence of the past 7+ years, perhaps a different set of traits ought to be elevated as prime criterion. Finding Obama's rise to be premature is a reasonable position. Saying that he has no accomplishments whatsoever makes you sound like a blind, bitter partisan.
9.19.2008 2:01am
LM (mail):
nicestrategy,

He wasn't offered tenure. Otherwise I agree.
9.19.2008 2:08am
nicestrategy (mail):

I thought the bar had been raised to an unapproachable height by Simon P for sneering arrogance and pomposity. Clearly I was wrong as we have a new contender in nicestrategy. Contributors to this site are allowed only to write on those subjects which he deems they are qualified. Nice strategy, nicestrategy, but really quite lame.


Huh?

They can write about whatever they want. Duh.

And we can criticize their choices, their reasoning, or anything else we feel like. I try not to get into criticizing motives as that always ends badly. But I offer no apology for criticizing the politics of the VC contributors just because it is their site. I've also criticized Yglesias and Ezra Klein and other liberal bloggers on their own sites. Not once has that been questioned.

If they resent it, they can close the blog to their friends and partisans or close the comments entirely.

I would like to think that all citizens would respect a free exchange of ideas.

Kissing up to authority is not in my blood, and I'm sorry, the media analysis and Palin defenses on this site are poorly reasoned. I'll call it like I see it.

Do you think McCain meant demote when he said fire? Really???
9.19.2008 2:10am
Mister Snitch (mail) (www):
"But then again, that's a good reason to be a little more humble and a bit less sarcastic in challenging someone else's knowledge."

Indeed. But the lesson will be utterly lost on Olbermann.
9.19.2008 2:11am
nicestrategy (mail):

He wasn't offered tenure. Otherwise I agree.


Oops, I got that wrong. I guess that was a tenure-track job then? Not the same thing.
9.19.2008 2:13am
Cornellian (mail):
"Spain is kind of important"

Really?


Yes, really.

Not up there with Japan, Britain or Canada, but not insignificant either.
9.19.2008 2:19am
Cornellian (mail):
Dalton v. Specter says otherwise. The President exceeding his statutory powers does not automatically become a constitutional violation.


Not automatically a constitutional violation doesn't mean not ever a constitutional violation.
9.19.2008 2:21am
LM (mail):
nicestrategy,

There was some confusion over that. The ex-Dean was reported in the Times to have said he made such an offer. But no such offer would have been valid without faculty approval, and it was confirmed by several faculty members that it was never raised with them, and there were no meetings where it could have been raised. So it's speculated that the (ex)-Dean might have made an offer contingent on faculty approval, or he may have made the offer without mentioning that faculty approval was needed. But since he subsequently questioned his own recollection about whether he made any offer at all, the safest assumption is probably that none was made.

There was also presumably no formal offer of a tenure track position. There were multiple feelers of Obama's interest in such an offer, all of which he rebuffed. Several of the same faculty who denied the tenure offer have confirmed that formal approval of offering Obama a tenure track position, had he expressed interest in it, would have been a virtual certainty.
9.19.2008 2:34am
SAADIQnotanotheridealogue:
SAADIQnotanotheridealogue:
C'mon Prof. Zywicki, what's inexcusable is your intellectual dishonesty in defending McCain!

LM:
What's the evidence he doesn't believe what he said?

LM, I chose to take the high road and give Zywicki the benefit of the doubt rather than assume that he would honestly embrace such a half-formed & dim-witted analysis. But if you choose to believe him a full blown idiot that's certainly your right. Carry on. Sir.
9.19.2008 2:43am
CB55 (mail):
From the Fact Check Desk: Could McCain 'Fire' the SEC Chairman?

September 18, 2008 3:24 PM

At a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this afternoon, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., attacked Chris Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying "the chairman of SEC has betrayed the public trust. And if I were president, I would fire him."

But the president does not have the power to fire the SEC chairman.

Commissioners of the following independent regulatory commissions cannot be removed by the president: the SEC, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Created in the wake of the Crash of 1929, the SEC was conceived by Congress in the Securities Exchange Act of 1933, and came into being in 1934. Its commission is composed of five members, and no more than three can be of the same political party. Commissioners are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for staggered five-year terms. The president designates one to serve as chair.

Former Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., was nominated by President George W. Bush (to serve as commissioner and chair in 2005 after the resignation of Chairman William Donaldson, who had several "ideological" disagreements with other members of the panel. (Donaldson, also a Bush nominee, has since endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.)

The courts have generally upheld the independence of commissioner for executive control. In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt fired a member of the Federal Trade Commission, an act the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.

That said, presidents in the past have attempted to remove commissioners and chairmen who have proven "uncooperative," and others -- including a key adviser to Obama -- have attempted to exert political pressure to force the resignations of commissioners of these agencies.

In the wake of the Enron scandal in October 2002, Democratic congressional leaders Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., wrote a letter to President Bush and held a press conference, demanding that then-SEC commissioner Harvey Pitt resign.

"The Democratic leaders of the Senate and House urged President Bush in a letter to oust Mr. Pitt," wrote the New York Times.

Within a month, Pitt was gone.

Daschle is a key adviser to Obama.

The McCain campaign called protests that the president cannot literally "fire" an SEC commissioner "a foolish distinction."

"Not only is there historical precedent for SEC chairs to be removed," said McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds, "the president of the United States always reserves the right to request the resignation of an appointee and maintain the customary expectation that it will be delivered.”

So, can a president "fire" an SEC chairman? Not literally, no.

But colloquially, yes.

In the world of politics, pressure can be brought to bear and "resignations" can occur, as Obama's top adviser Mr. Daschle knows well.

-- Jake Tapper and Lisa Chinn
9.19.2008 2:53am
LM (mail):
SAADIQnotanotheridealogue,

I don't think the high road is the one that questions someone's honesty. I know very smart people who believe the moon landings were a hoax, Bush was behind 9/11 and the Clintons murdered Vince Foster. While I'm confident those are insane ideas, I don't consider the people who hold them "full blown idiots." So, for Prof. Zywicki to believe what he posted wouldn't make him any kind of idiot, regardless of how strongly I believe he missed the point.
9.19.2008 3:03am
Grover Gardner (mail):
I'm not an economist, so I have to ask: Why would McCain "fire" Cox, anyway? Is he to blame in some way for the recent failures and crises?
9.19.2008 3:15am
jgshapiro (mail):
The president has more power here (in practice) than to just demote an SEC chairman (FCC, etc.).

Harvey Pitt, for example, was forced to resign by Bush earlier in his administration, mostly because he had a tin ear and kept embarrassing the administration. Note, he was not just "demoted" from chairman to regular commissioner: he left the commission.

Now obviously, forcing someone to resign is not technically the same thing as firing them, but it is pretty close. If your boss came to you and said "I can't fire you, but if you don't resign I will make sure you can get nothing done and will make your life a living hell," more likely than not, you would go.

Presumably, the person in question, whether Pitt or Cox, has better things to do with their career than stay in a position where they hold the title but are opposed at every turn by many or most of the people whose cooperation they need to get anything done.
9.19.2008 3:23am
Grover Gardner (mail):
After a little looksee, maybe this and this answer my question.
9.19.2008 3:32am
jgshapiro (mail):
Finding Obama's rise to be premature is a reasonable position. Saying that he has no accomplishments whatsoever makes you sound like a blind, bitter partisan.

Confusing political skill or accomplishments with governing skill or accomplishments makes you sound ignorant. It is the difference between an ability to interview well for a job, and to perform well in it once you get it. The two are completely separate and have no bearing on one another.
There are many examples of people with good political skill and little or no governing skill (Bush Jr. for example) as well as people with little or no political skill and good governing skill (Bush Sr. for example). There are people good at both (Reagan, Clinton) and neither (hard to find an example here from a recent president, since they probably wouldn't get elected, but among candidates, Kucinich comes to mind).

The criticism of Obama is not that he lacks political skill. Obviously, he is a good politician. It is that there is no evidence that he has any governing skill. Showing examples of his political accomplishments does not get you any closer to proving he can govern.
9.19.2008 3:35am
nicestrategy (mail):
A President could probably get rid of an SEC chairman if he or she wished. Agreed. That makes harping on McCain's choice of the word "fire" rather weak sauce.

Harping on the harping on is also rather weak sauce.

The only defense of it I can think of it that McCain has made a lot of verbal mistakes during the campaign. I detest artificial media narratives, so I sort of get why Zywicki would want to smack down Olbermann, however unnecessary that should be, even though this distinction about demoting vs. firing is awfully silly to me.

Yet, if McCain blanks out in a debate -- and I hope he doesn't, I really hope we can have a dignified end to the campaign -- the media would be irresponsible not to bring up McCain's mental acuity or lack thereof. Olbermann seems to be chomping at the bit of that proto-narrative too eagerly, harping on an incorrect choice of words by McCain.

And there are many who chomp at the bit of media bias way to eagerly.

Let's call this a draw and move on.
9.19.2008 3:40am
jgshapiro (mail):
nicestrategy:

The comments fields, however, are basically open to the public. If they didn't want us to play, they wouldn't enable comments, or would only enable them for certain threads.

There is an obvious difference between criticizing the substance of a post and criticizing the topic selection. If you don't like the topic selection, skip to a different post, or a different blog.

I don't think it is necessary to close the comments to substantive comments just to eliminate gripes that the conspirators didn't blog on the topics you wanted. The easier fix is to ban the complainers and leave the comments open to comments that are actually on topic.
9.19.2008 3:42am
Dave N (mail):
jgshapiro,

Jimmy Carter may qualify as the double-bogey: little or no political skills and little or none governing skill.
9.19.2008 3:44am
nicestrategy (mail):

The criticism of Obama is not that he lacks political skill. Obviously, he is a good politician. It is that there is no evidence that he has any governing skill. Showing examples of his political accomplishments does not get you any closer to proving he can govern.


Exactly what is meant by governing skill? Running a campaign is an executive experience -- there's one boss, there's a budget, there's strategy, there is extensive delegation, a wide range of inputs and stakeholders, and there is operational execution. Is governing skill the ability to inspire people to need less government? Is governing skill the ability to analyze complex policy choices?

Did Reagan have governing skill? He wasn't a strong CEO. Or was his best trait as a leader the ability to understand people and reach out and bring them into his vision for America? How is that any different than political skill?

Besides the fact that I listed a number of non-political accomplishments, it is facile to state that Obama has no governmental ones. Read here. Again, in the relatively short amount of time, you might want for more. But I was not the one that mocked his complete lack of accomplishment, which is lunacy.

I suspect someone will pop up and assert that legislative and executive experience are different and that only executive experience counts. Basically, that boils down to an assertion that only Governors should be allowed to run for President. Yeah, OK, but there is one Governor on a national ticket and she has not demonstrated much in the way of governing skill. (But wait! She's got a 60% approval rating in Alaska -- a political measurement -- after dishing out $1200 checks!) Troopergate is small potatoes other than showing that she didn't have the governing skill to get rid of a State Trooper the quiet way. Or maybe you'd prefer to argue the point about insubordination in which Monegan was wanting to raise additional money to combat rape?

On another executive front, I must say there is more to leadership than a military position can offer, when discipline is a given and you don't have to care as much about motivation. It is good experience, but there is no job like being President, period.

Or maybe McCain simply has a better record as a legislator? If he hadn't reversed many of his positions for political expediency then I would agree. Then again, I thought the immigration bill (with Kennedy, ahem) was a reasonable way forward out of an intractable problem and that BCRA was both Constitutional and wise. In any case, being a skilled legislator doesn't really mean much if you don't have good ideas, and both candidates have shown the ability to muster legislative and public support which is a skill relevant to being President. Is that governing skill or political skill?

Again, reasonable people can disagree about the depth of Obama's experience and accomplishments. Asserting that he has none is ridiculous.
9.19.2008 3:59am
A. Zarkov (mail):
If McCain doesn't understand that POTUS can't fire Cox, then Obama doesn't either
Campaigning in New Mexico, Obama mocked McCain's call to fire the SEC chairman, basically saying why stop at Cox.
If Olbermann wanted to be "fair and balanced," he would have commented that both candidates don't seem to understand that POTUS can fire a member of an independent agency. Perhaps Olbermann was unaware of BHO's staement, or BHO said it after Olbermann's report, but I doubt it.
9.19.2008 4:04am
Michael B (mail):
OT but genuinely amusing, Joe Biden, Jake Tapper reporting.
9.19.2008 4:40am
NickM (mail) (www):
Todd, are you taping Countdown to have a permanent record of the day you get named Worst Person in the World?

Nick
9.19.2008 5:29am
for teh lulz:
Why is it being repeatedly asserted that the President can't fire a member of an independent agency? Doesn't Humphrey's Executor basically say that the President CAN fire for cause?

Last I checked, the FTC is an "independent agency."
9.19.2008 5:35am
Claudio:
AZarkov says this:

"If McCain doesn't understand that POTUS can't fire Cox, then Obama doesn't either

* * *

If Olbermann wanted to be "fair and balanced," he would have commented that both candidates don't seem to understand that POTUS can fire a member of an independent agency. Perhaps Olbermann was unaware of BHO's staement, or BHO said it after Olbermann's report, but I doubt it.

Perhaps AZarkov is himself unaware of what Obama said, which has to do with electoral change rather than presidential authority. Immediately following the part of the article that serves as his hyperlink, Obama is actually quoted:

Campaigning in New Mexico, Obama mocked McCain's call to fire the SEC chairman, basically saying why stop at Cox.

"In the next 47 days you can fire the whole trickle-down, on-your-own, look-the-other-way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path," he told a campaign rally in Espanola. "Don't just get rid of one guy. Get rid of this administration. Get rid of this philosophy. Get rid of the do-nothing approach to our economic problem and put somebody in there who's going to fight for you."

Sorry, AZarkov, sometimes you have to read a whole article to understand it ...
9.19.2008 6:21am
smitty1e:
>So this is just intellectual confusion on Olbermann's part.

A fair characterization of Olbermann's oeuvre.
9.19.2008 6:37am
Casper the Friendly Guest:
Setting aside the intriguing semantic debate, does anyone really think it is a good idea to fire the SEC chairman in the midst of a stock market crisis?

I've never thought that Cox was up to the job, but I also don't think that removing him while the market is already in freefall is such a hot idea either. Get through the crisis, and then let heads roll. Although McCain may not have meant that he would fire Cox on the spot, that sounds like the kind of, ahem, swift and decisive action I would expect from President McCain.
9.19.2008 7:13am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Sorry, AZarkov, sometimes you have to read a whole article to understand it ..."

I stand corrected. Thank you.
9.19.2008 7:18am
PersonFromPorlock:
I suspect that an executive branch employee the POTUS wants to fire will be fired: even if he's still drawing a government paycheck it'll be in Boise.
9.19.2008 7:34am
Milhouse (www):
CB55, Factcheck is simply wrong. There is not the slightest question that the president can fire the chairman of the SEC for any reason or none at all. He can also fire any commissioner, but only for cause; that's not as high a barrier as it sounds, because "inefficiency" counts as cause, and there's nobody in the world who can't be accused of that. Since McCain (stupidly) blames the SEC's policies for at least part of the current crisis, it follows that its members have been "inefficient", and he can fire them.
9.19.2008 8:14am
Milhouse (www):
PS: Yes, I do think when McCain said he'd fire Cox, he meant from his current position as chairman. That is the plain meaning of "fire"; removal from his current job, which is chairman. When a Speaker of the House is dumped, he remains a member of Congress. On Mad Men, when Don Draper fired his secretary, she didn't end up on the street, she went back to the telephone operators' pool where she'd come from; on the other hand, when Joan Holloway fired his next secretary, she went back where she'd come from, which was the street. Cox became a commissioner before he became chairman (he had to, because Bush couldn't appoint him chairman until he'd been confirmed), so on being fired he'd go back to his last job as an ordinary commissioner. From which McCain could also fire him if he wanted to, by accusing him of "inefficiency"; he'd be wrong, but that's a judgment call, and it's the president's to make.
9.19.2008 8:22am
moptop (mail):
"Let's call this a draw and move on" That is the closest you will ever here to a leftie realizing he is wrong. There are still leftards out there who rant on about a mythical "plastic turkey", believe it or don't.
9.19.2008 8:40am
ATL (mail):
The attempts on this blog by Republican "libertarian" law professors to bend over backwards in support of the GOP candidate is both depressing and comical. I would say their slips are showing, but at this point, they're buck naked, exposed as partisan hacks. Now, if I only could definitively tell whether the party was the GOP or Likud.
9.19.2008 8:52am
Floridan:
I think the most logical explanation for the "fire" comment is that McCain, following the example of the Bush/Cheney administration, believes he can make up his own law when he finds it convenient.
9.19.2008 9:20am
bikeguy (mail):

The attempts on this blog by Republican "libertarian" law professors to bend over backwards in support of the GOP candidate is both depressing and comical. I would say their slips are showing, but at this point, they're buck naked, exposed as partisan hacks.



Pot. Black.
9.19.2008 9:22am
Casper the Friendly Guest:
Yes, we're all black. But Conspirators should hold themselves to a higher standard. A few of them even do.
9.19.2008 9:25am
Bored Lawyer:
The Fact Check explanation seems closer to what McCain meant than the Professor's. If the President wants the Chairman of the SEC to be gone, he will in short order be gone, even if technically it is a request for a resignation. All the President has to do is tell the person that the public has lost confidence in his leadership of the SEC, and the person is history.

I also wonder if Humphrey's Executor is still good law. If this is the reasoning:


The commission is to be nonpartisan, and it must, from the very nature of its duties, act with entire impartiality. It is charged with the enforcement of no policy except the policy of the law. Its duties are neither political nor executive, but predominantly quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative


then I wonder whether that is still true of these independent commissions. After these past two weeks of bailouts, can one seriously say that the Federal Reserve still fits within that pure non-policy making mold of the Humphrey's Executor case?
9.19.2008 9:41am
p. rich (mail) (www):
It is a fundamental tenet of modern liberalism that a liberal cannot be wrong. Why? Because they subscribe to the belief that Truth is whatever I choose to believe. That is an extremely convenient worldview which leads to the obvious correlary, Anyone who disagrees with me is wrong by definition and therefore lying. Note that facts have no bearing in this belief system, as everything is relative.

No, this is not an extreme view. It explains the left completely. Obama cannot flip-flop, for example, because whatever he says today is the totality of liberal reality. What he said yesterday is no longer meaningful in any way, and to suggest that it is is just more lies and distortion by the Right. Damned convenient, that. And, no surprise, you also see it clearly reflected in the media in the slightly altered form of, It's only important and true if we say it is, because what we say determines importance and truth. Remember Rathergate? Welcome to Wonderland, liberal style.
9.19.2008 9:46am
emsl (mail):
Much as I enjoy legal hairsplitting -- and, sadly, I am not being sarcastic, I really do enjoy it -- I must join in Casper's view from earlier this morning. For the moment, let's assume that one way or the other, either by formal process or just calling the chairman into the Oval Office and saying that the President wants his resignation because he has no confidence in him, whoever is president can force out the chairman. Is this a good idea? Did Cox fundamentally fail in his responsibilities? Did he have the tools to respond to the problem? Would he just be a scapegoat? These seem to be the important questions here.
9.19.2008 9:47am
Sarcastro (www):
p. rich clearly knows tons of liberals very well. His well reasoned study of the liberal mindset gets to the heart of the matter. I mean, he explains the total lack of dissent in the liberal ranks so well!

It should be noted that the "Truth is whatever I choose to believe" phenomenon is a uniquely liberal thing. I know I often see conservatives recognizing the reasonableness of the opposition.

Unless the opposition is liberal, of course, cause those guys are evil and unreasonable! Also libertarians are stone crazy! Independents are naïve, so they don’t count either.

But everyone else is totally reasonable. I can tell because they agree with me, the most reasonable one of all
9.19.2008 10:02am
The Ace (mail):
Examples:
* Palin did not know what the Bush Doctrine is, regardless of whether a case can be made that the term is ambiguous


Hysterical.

The fact that you can't recognize how absurd this is speaks volumes.
9.19.2008 10:04am
The Ace (mail):
Good times,


However in a rare television interview tonight, the former president called Republican presidential candidate John McCain "a great man" and praised GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as an "instinctively effective candidate."

In an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, Clinton, who has tried to put to rest rumors of tensions between himself and Obama said, "I've never concealed my admiration and affection for Sen. McCain. I think he's a great man.

...
Asked if he was surprised by the bounce McCain received in the polls after choosing Palin as his vice presidential candidate, Clinton said he wasn't, and lavished praise on the Alaska governor.

"No, she's a-- she's an instinctively effective candidate," he said, "And with a compelling story. I think it was exciting to some, that, that she was a woman. It was exciting that she was from Alaska. It was exciting that she's sort of like the person she is. And she grew up in a, came up in a political culture and a religious culture that is probably well to the right of the American center. But, she didn't basically define herself in those terms," Clinton said.

"She handled herself very well," he said, "I get why she's done so well. She, she's, it's a mistake to underestimate her. She's got good intuitive skills. They're significant."


Sounds like the big dog smells a sinking ship...
9.19.2008 10:11am
Sarcastro (www):
The Ace is once again proving p. rich's point about the liberals. Notice how he didn't say "Anyone who disagrees with me is wrong by definition and therefore lying."

Instead, he said "The fact that you can't recognize how absurd this is speaks volumes."

Completely different! And so much more substantive!

The Ace keeps ginding stuff "Hysterical." He sure seems like a jolly guy!
9.19.2008 10:12am
Tracy Johnson (www):
You need to get a DVR so when you miss legal advisor's names you can get instant replay!
9.19.2008 10:19am
JosephSlater (mail):
Simon P. was right. The Spain gaffe was much weirder. VC folks can comment on whatever they like, obviously, but readers can draw conclusions about that. And still be readers.

Note that when a couple of posters had the nerve to question the qualifications of Palin, the typical hard-right commenters were up in arms in protest, but they didn't leave.
9.19.2008 10:28am
Finstock:
S.E.C. v. Blinder, Robinson &Co., Inc., 855 F.2d 677, 681 (10th Cir. 1988): “it is commonly understood that the President may remove a commissioner only for ‘inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.’”

“as the President has the power to choose the chairman of the SEC from its commissioners to serve an indefinite term, it follows that the chairman serves at the pleasure of the President.” Id. at 681. See also, S.E.C. v. Trikilis, 1992 WL 301398 at 7 (“The President may also remove the chairman at will”).
9.19.2008 10:35am
The Ace (mail):
Completely different! And so much more substantive!

I would be you, or anyone reading, $5,000 the poster making that comment has no clue what the "Bush doctrine" means.

Anyway:


Well, Anne-Marie Slaughter is the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. She was interviewed by Alan Johnson, for a book titled: "Global Politics After 9/11: The Democratiya Interviews."



Here's how the exchange begins:



Johnson: What are the central differences, and what are the elements of continuity, if any exist, between 'the Bush doctrine' and the 'grand strategy of forging a world of liberty under law'?


Slaughter: Tell me what you mean by 'The Bush Doctrine'.


Now go ahead and tell us she doesn't know what it means.

Clown.
9.19.2008 10:36am
The Ace (mail):
Instead, he said "The fact that you can't recognize how absurd this is speaks volumes."

Completely different! And so much more substantive!


You are also in the "I have no idea what the Bush doctrine means" camp.
9.19.2008 10:39am
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
The Ace:


Hysterical.

Hilarious.

Clown.


I think we get the idea that you find the world a very funny place. It must be great to laugh so much my friend!

Here's another good joke for you, sure to make you smile: "His worldview."

Hysterical!
9.19.2008 10:45am
David Beiler:
Pete Williams IS NBC's legal correspondent. (Olbermann seems confused on that point as well.) I believe he used to be with DOD.
9.19.2008 10:46am
Arkady:

PS: Yes, I do think when McCain said he'd fire Cox, he meant from his current position as chairman. That is the plain meaning of "fire"; removal from his current job, which is chairman.


I think that's just wrong. It was said during a stump speech, a venue not known for indulgence in nuance. The rhetorical thrust, as directed to the audience, was: McCain would fire Cox, period. Fire him as chairman and from the commission, send him out of government. That was the rhetoric. The audience didn't understand him to be saying, "I'd fire him as chairman, but, you know, he'd still be on the commission." They understood him, correctly, to be asserting, "I'd fire his ass outa town." And it had the desired effect.
9.19.2008 10:47am
Sarcastro (www):
The Ace has read my thoughts. Secretly, under cover of darkness, I entered the "I have no idea what the Bush doctrine means" camp.

But The Ace was too clever for me. He clearly saw the connection between my comments on him and my position on Sarah Palin.

I'm mellltiiinng!
9.19.2008 10:51am
Bored Lawyer:
The NY Times reports that the SEC has banned short selling to stabilize the stock market. See here:

S.E.C. Temporarily Blocks Short Sales of Financial Stocks


Whether or not you think this is a good policy, is this really a mere straightforward application of the law as envisioned by Humphrey's Executor?
9.19.2008 10:56am
The Ace (mail):
I think we get the idea that you find the world a very funny place

No, just ignorant liberals who know so little but bluster so much.

Here's another good joke for you, sure to make you smile: "His worldview."

Huh?
9.19.2008 11:04am
Bandon:
Only a few commenters have taken on the much more important issue of whether the SEC Chair messed up and thus deserves to be fired (assuming that he could be fired, of course). I don't follow the details of the SEC's operations closely enough to have an informed opinion myself, but I don't hear most of the commenters on this thread calling for the ouster of Cox. If Cox did not mess up big time, then McCain's call to have him fired sounds like empty campaign bluster.

So did the SEC chair mess up enough to deserve being fired?
9.19.2008 11:07am
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
The Ace doesn't know what a worldview is!
9.19.2008 11:08am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Zapatero is or would antagonize him as an unfriendly head of state


He is an unfriendly head of state. Spain may be a NATO member and hence an ally but Zapatero and his party is anti-American.

Plus he is a backstabbing weasel.
9.19.2008 11:12am
titus32:
Arkady et al.,

everyone can go back and forth speculating about what McCain meant by the word fire, and it seems most persons' opinions will accord with whether they like McCain. However, whatever McCain meant, the President can fire a Commissioner for cause. Prof. Bainbridge makes this point at his blog. Thus, even if McCain meant "I will remove him as a Commissioner," it seems he has the (somewhat limited) power to do so.
9.19.2008 11:13am
titus32:
So did the SEC chair mess up enough to deserve being fired?

Bandon, I haven't formed an opinion myself, but Prof. Bainbridge wrote a post on this titled "McCain's Moronic Critique of Cox." I wonder what his position is? ;-)
9.19.2008 11:16am
Bored Lawyer:

Only a few commenters have taken on the much more important issue of whether the SEC Chair messed up and thus deserves to be fired (assuming that he could be fired, of course). I don't follow the details of the SEC's operations closely enough to have an informed opinion myself, but I don't hear most of the commenters on this thread calling for the ouster of Cox. If Cox did not mess up big time, then McCain's call to have him fired sounds like empty campaign bluster.

So did the SEC chair mess up enough to deserve being fired?


I don't know all the details either, but I do recall that the head of one of the hedge funds several months ago was loudly announcing that he believed that Lehman Brothers had a poor accounting system and would soon be facing trouble, and therefore he was shorting Lehman Bros. stock and suggesting others do the same.

For his troubles, he was hounded by the SEC, who accused him of "maniputlating" the market to try do drive down the stock price.

So now, at least in hindsight, it seems that the SEC, under Cox's leadership, was shooting the proverbial messenger of the current financial debacle.
9.19.2008 11:17am
Realist Liberal:
For what it's worth, I (as a moderate liberal) can't stand Olberman. I find him as intellectually engaging as Sean Hannity. Both are blowhards that don't add anything to intelligent discussion. I would much rather watch Rachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan.

This is not the first, and certainly won't be the last time, that Olberman has based an entire section of his show on a premise that is completely wrong. Even worse, he frequently bases sections on a premise that is questionable at best. I can think of the Commander in the Navy JAG who defended Hamdan (I think, it may have been a different "enemy combatant" who went to SCOTUS). The commander wasn't promoted and the up or out mentality was invoked on him. However, Olberman conveniently ignored the fact that the commander had been passed over for promotion three times before the case started, so maybe he just wasn't that good of a lawyer/ officer. But that didn't fit in Olberman's view so he ignored it.
9.19.2008 11:18am
Occam (mail):
Anyone who listens to and believes anything Olberman says deserves the brain rot that will ensue. Olberman is a smirking buffoon masquerading as an idiot.
9.19.2008 11:29am
JosephSlater (mail):
Bob from Ohio:

I think the most plausible explanation is that McCain had no idea who Zapatero (the Spanish guy) actually is, and that's why McCain's quote not only is so hostile (he assumed incorrectly that Zapatero was another Hugo Chavez type) but also places him in Latin America.

But your position is that McCain actually did, sort of, know who he was, and he really is already threatening to refuse to meet with him? The head of a NATO ally? I realize that's the McCain camp's spin, and I guess they think that random belligerence might play better than plain old confusion. Anyway, good luck with that foreign policy debate.
9.19.2008 11:34am
Casper the Friendly Guest:
Bandon,

To answer your important question, Cox has long been seen as one of the weakest and most ineffectual SEC Chairs in history. He was certainly the wrong person to have at the helm knowing that this crisis was coming. And he can rightly be blamed for overseeing the repeal of the uptick trading rule for short sellers, which exacerbated the crisis.

I would expect him to step down in the coming months, but firing him on the spot is the proverbial equivalent of closing the barn door after the horse has been let out and would only add turmoil to the already roiled markets.
9.19.2008 11:46am
JRL:
Yea, but what does Craig Kilborn think?
9.19.2008 11:53am
mls (www):
I can’t bear to read all of these comments, but I think it is a time for a little “straight talk” here. First, if Olbermann’s point is that McCain doesn’t understand the nuances of removing the chairman of the SEC, that point is undoubtedly correct. Of course, Olbermann doesn’t understand them either. Neither does Pete Williams. In fact, no one may understand them because it is apparently an open question exactly how and when the President may remove the SEC chairman (at least in the sense of removing him from the commission entirely).

Second, the essence of McCain’s statement was that he believes that Chairman Cox was “asleep at the switch” and, if McCain were the president, he would “fire” him. No doubt McCain meant fire in the sense of getting him off the commission, but if it turned out that the president’s authority were limited to removing Cox from the chairmanship, presumably McCain would settle for that. Moreover, it seems quite likely that the president would have the power to fire Cox from the commission since being “asleep at the switch” would constitute “good cause” for removal. And in any event, even if the president lacked the legal authority to fire Cox, there seems little doubt that he could still force him to resign by publicly announcing his lack of confidence in him.

Finally, is there anyone who thinks that it actually matters whether McCain is an expert on removal of SEC commissioners? Is there anyone who thinks that Olbermann believes that it matters? Is there anyone who doubts that if Obama had made the exact same remark, Olbermann (and many of those who are rallying to his defense) would have praised Obama, slammed “McSame” for supporting Cox, and mocked anyone who dared to criticize Obama for misstating the president’s removal powers?

Come on, lets drop this silliness and get back to debating the meaning of “lipstick on a pig.” By comparison, that’s an important issue.
9.19.2008 12:07pm
The Ace (mail):
The Ace doesn't know what a worldview is!

No, I don't know why you thought that was a "joke" or "funny" or even relevant.
9.19.2008 12:09pm
Milhouse (www):
Floridan:
I think the most logical explanation for the "fire" comment is that McCain, following the example of the Bush/Cheney administration, believes he can make up his own law when he finds it convenient.
Except that he's actually right. But of course, since he's a Republican, and therefore stoopid, he must have got it right by accident. Just like Palin accidentally got it right about Fannnie Mae and Freddie Mac costing the taxpayers too much, because as a stoopid Republican bint she couldn't possibly have actually known that. And although anybody asked what they thought of the Bush Doctrine would ask for a definition before answering, Palin did so because she was ignorant, while anyone else would have done exactly the same thing because they're smart.

Arkady:
I think that's just wrong. It was said during a stump speech, a venue not known for indulgence in nuance.
What nuance is required? This is the plain meaning of the term.
The rhetorical thrust, as directed to the audience, was: McCain would fire Cox, period. Fire him as chairman and from the commission, send him out of government. That was the rhetoric. The audience didn't understand him to be saying, "I'd fire him as chairman, but, you know, he'd still be on the commission." They understood him, correctly, to be asserting, "I'd fire his ass outa town."
And you know all this how? Because you're a mind reader? The plain meaning of firing someone is that they no longer have that job, not that they are rendered completely unemployed. See the examples I gave above. This is not a nuance. According to your definition, a person with two jobs can't possibly be fired from either one, because he'd still have the other. That's silly. And pointless, because even if McCain had meant that he'd remove Cox from the commission altogether, as president he would have been able to do that too, simply by calling his performance "inefficient" or "neglectful of duty", which he clearly (but IMO incorrectly) believes it to have been. So you're twisting yourself into pretzels and pretending to be a mind reader for no purpose.

Bandon:
So did the SEC chair mess up enough to deserve being fired?
Not in my opinion, but my opinion isn't what matters here. Nor does McCain's, particularly, but if he were president his opinion would be the only one that mattered. He can fire the chairman whether he screwed up or not, but he can also fire any commissioner that he believes has screwed up, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
9.19.2008 12:18pm
Casper the Friendly Guest:
Milhouse says,


Bandon:
So did the SEC chair mess up enough to deserve being fired?
Not in my opinion, but my opinion isn't what matters here. Nor does McCain's, particularly, but if he were president his opinion would be the only one that mattered. He can fire the chairman whether he screwed up or not, but he can also fire any commissioner that he believes has screwed up, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.


But the underlying question here, which I think Bandon was getting at, is whether we can trust McCain to exercise executive power in a sensible way. A lot of voters in both parties have questions about McCain's judgment and temperament, so simply saying, "He has the power and that's that" misses the mark, no?
9.19.2008 12:33pm
Milhouse (www):
That's a reasonable question, but it isn't the one on people's minds at the moment. The accusation against McCain isn't that he would precipitously fire someone who has actually been doing a good job, but that he's either ignorant or arrogant, because he said he'd do something that's outside the president's powers. Except that it isn't.
9.19.2008 12:37pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
"And he can rightly be blamed for overseeing the repeal of the uptick trading rule for short sellers, which exacerbated the crisis."

Casper, I am sorry, there is no evidence for that. For once, I agree with the Wall Street Journal's editorial page. Blaming Cox for this mess is pseudo-populist scapegoating. We have a structural problem in our regulatory system, stemming from 3 causes:

First, banks are regulated by the Fed, which can make them not do stupid things with their money. Second, investment banks are regulated by the SEC, which can only make them "disclose" that they have been doing stupid things; Third, in our modern financial system, the distinction between banks and investment banks' lawful activities has evaporated, exposing our financial system to the stupid (very risky) things that investment banks sometimes do. I have been thinking that we need a unified financial regulatory, with oversight authority over everything affecting the capital markets--banks, investment banks, and insurance companies.
9.19.2008 12:46pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

But your position is that McCain actually did, sort of, know who he was, and he really is already threatening to refuse to meet with him? The head of a NATO ally?


President Bush has refused to meet with him. It was a controversy in Spain at the last NATO meeting. Payback for Iraq.

McCain would continue the policy apparently. Fine with me, backstabbing weasels don't make good talk partners.

There are mere NATO allies and important NATO allies. Canada and UK and France and Germany and Poland are important. Spain is not.


Oh, I think McCain will do fine next week on foreign policy. He is not debating Joe Biden after all. Just some guy who chairs a Subcommittee on NATO that has never met.
9.19.2008 12:50pm
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
Palin's answer to Gibson's question about what she thought the Bush doctrine is. She guessed, "His worldview?"

Which is hilarious, though sad.
9.19.2008 12:58pm
pluribus:
I am less concerned about whether a TV commentator doesn't understand the difference between "illegal" and "unconstitutional" than about whether a candidate for president doesn't know that SEC commissioners do not serve at the pleasure of the president. They are independent commissioners. The president has no legal power to remove them before the expiration of their terms of office. Doesn't McCain know this? Further, he seems to believe he can pull a name off a list (in this case Cox) and blame him for the nation's financial woes, thereby excusing his own involvement as a 26-year veteran of the Washington establishment and 6-year chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee (which he bragged about earlier this week). Cox was up there with Paulson, Bernanke and Bush this morning, reassuring the public that the financial system is not about to collapse. The market this morning is endorsing their move. I think this is good. Does McCain? Or would he prefer to see the markets collapse? McCain seems to think Cox shouldn't be doing this. This episode raises more questions about McCain's competence than about Olberman or Cox.
9.19.2008 1:03pm
Bandon:
"But the underlying question here, which I think Bandon was getting at, is whether we can trust McCain to exercise executive power in a sensible way. A lot of voters in both parties have questions about McCain's judgment and temperament, so simply saying, "He has the power and that's that" misses the mark, no?"

Casper,

That's exactly what I was getting at. The opinion on Cox seems to be mixed, so McCain is probably not alone in wanting to get rid of him. However, McCain's statement at a political rally seemed to come out of anger at wanting to blame somebody (other than "deregulators" like himself or Phil Gramm, of course) for the current financial crisis.

So was this an honest expression of a well-reasoned opinion by McCain or simply an angry, impulsive outburst to convince people that he really wants to "clean up Washington," regardless of who's in the way? You be the judge.
9.19.2008 1:03pm
Milhouse (www):
On the Zapatero thing I will grant, contrary to the thrust of my previous comment, that in this case McCain did get it right purely by accident. It seems to me that he was thinking of the Zapatistas in the south of Mexico, or something like that, but he clearly didn't know who he was being asked about.

Not that I think this matters much, since I don't see why a candidate for president has to memorise the name of every head-of-government in the world, or their capitals, major exports, or gross national product. That's what presidential briefings are for. But accidentally or not, I think he got the answer right; had I been posed with the same question I think I'd have remembered in time who he was, or have asked, but ultimately I'd have given the same answer, that he wouldn't be welcome in my White House. If elected I might later have cause to eat those words, but sometimes a candidate has more freedom than an office holder.
9.19.2008 1:04pm
Milhouse (www):
Pluribus:

I am less concerned about whether a TV commentator doesn't understand the difference between "illegal" and "unconstitutional" than about whether a candidate for president doesn't know that SEC commissioners do not serve at the pleasure of the president. They are independent commissioners. The president has no legal power to remove them before the expiration of their terms of office. Doesn't McCain know this?

No, Pluribus, he doesn't know this, because it isn't true. Olberman's the one who screwed this up. Please at least skim the thread before commenting.
9.19.2008 1:06pm
metro1 (mail) (www):
snaphappy:

you're off-topic - so professor zywicki is being polite in not deleting your comment.

and, in any event, gov. palin's description of the bush doctrine was a fair summary. go read the definition on wikipedia. the bush doctrine encompasses about 5-7 different concepts. combating terrorism and spreading democracy is a very fair summary - and that's what gov. palin said.

you might want to focus instead on all the times that Barry Obama said the surge was not working. he's been wrong repeatedly on the most important foreign policy issue facing the U.S.
9.19.2008 1:07pm
titus32:
Pluribus wrote: I am less concerned about whether a TV commentator doesn't understand the difference between "illegal" and "unconstitutional" than about whether a candidate for president doesn't know that SEC commissioners do not serve at the pleasure of the president. They are independent commissioners. The president has no legal power to remove them before the expiration of their terms of office. Doesn't McCain know this?

Wow -- this is just wrong. As multiple commenters have stated, the President does have the power to remove Commissioners for cause.
9.19.2008 1:10pm
pluribus:
Do you suppose McCain's next move will be to fire Bernanke, and then maybe Pelosi, too? Great plan for economic recovery! Just remove all those officials you don't have the power to remove, and everything will be OK. Maybe he should start right now by firing all of the lobbyists and ex-lobbyists who are on his campaign team. Now that's something he actually has the power to do. Also get rid of Carly Fiorina, his financial spokesperson, who had the temerity this week to observe that McCain isn't competent to run a large corporation. Of course, Carly said Obama, Biden, and Palin are also incompetent, but it was singularly impolitic of her to include McCain in her incompetent group.
9.19.2008 1:14pm
nlcatter:
Demoting one to the Mailroom is not FIRING them!
9.19.2008 1:15pm
greg:
Olbermann got it wrong in two respects:

First, if McCain was referring to firing Cox as a commissioner, then Olbermann misled his viewers about both McCain's statement and the permissible causes for firing. Olbermann conceded that the president could fire a commissioner for cause, but then claimed that the commissioner would have to commit gross negligence or malfeasance to be fired for cause. To the contrary, the law permits the president to fire an independent commissioner for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance. Olbermann claimed that McCain wanted to fire Cox because he disagreed with his views--but that is not what McCain said. McCain said that Cox had violated the public trust, which is somewhere between inefficiency and neglect of duty. It is not "unconstitutional" to fire an independent commissioner for breach of the public trust.

Second, if McCain was referring to firing Cox as chairman, then Olbermann misled his viewers about the propriety of such action. It is widely recognized that the president has the power to remove a person as the chair of an independent commission because the person serves as chair at the president's pleasure. So, it also is not "unconstitutional" to fire Cox from his job as chairman of the SEC.

Either way, McCain's actions would not be unconstitutional. Olbermann was plainly wrong when he suggested otherwise.
9.19.2008 1:41pm
commontheme (mail):
I am sure that Sarah Palin will explain these complexities to John McCain when the time comes.
9.19.2008 1:47pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The weird thing was that there was nothing particularly wrong with what McCain said wrt Zapatero; you have to take an uncharitable interpretation of what he said to argue that it is. But then McCain's spokesperson came along later and claimed that the uncharitable interpretation is correct!
9.19.2008 2:05pm
The Ace (mail):
Palin's answer to Gibson's question about what she thought the Bush doctrine is. She guessed, "His worldview?"

Um, no, she did not.
9.19.2008 2:09pm
The Ace (mail):
Do you suppose McCain's next move will be to fire Bernanke, and then maybe Pelosi, too? Great plan for economic recovery!

And what is Obama's plan again?

What is so funny about this topic is Olbermann, with no sense of self awareness, can't bring himself to wonder what Obama would do.

Obama has no plan, has made no statements (other than a wrong characterization of what AIG stands for), yet McCain is to be incoherently attacked.

And people like you cheer it on.
9.19.2008 2:11pm
The Ace (mail):
Great plan for economic recovery!


Like this?


It is time for a new economic strategy, guided by the principle that America prospers when all Americans prosper, where common-sense rules of the road ensure that competition is fair, open, and honest. That is the strategy I will pursue as President, and I will bring the change we need to restore confidence in our financial markets and strength to our economy,” said Barack Obama


I'm blown away by that, chief.
9.19.2008 2:14pm
The Ace (mail):
Great plan for economic recovery!

Yep:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asked today what new regulatory actions Congress can take, said, bluntly, "No one knows what to do. We are in new territory here. This is a different game. We're not here playing soccer, basketball or football, this is a new game and we're going to have to figure out how to do it."



Leadership!
9.19.2008 2:27pm
pluribus:
Milhouse and titus 32--

Guilty. Yes, I should have skimmed before commenting--. It appears that the law has been interpreted otherwise. I wish I could say this restores my confidence in McCain, but it doesn't. And I feel no need to defend Olberman, since I wasn't planning to vote for him anyhow. McCain has made too many inconsistent statements about the financial crisis. If it is his position that Cox is guilty of "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office,” I'd take it as further evidence of McCain's own inconpetence. Cox appears to have acted with Paulson, Bernanke, Bush, and congressional leaders to propose a comprehensive plan to deal with the crisis. McCain should specify Cox's failures before he scapegoats him.
9.19.2008 2:40pm
Casper the Friendly Guest:
Christopher Cooke,

I haven't read the WSJ editorial yet but I do agree that Cox has only very limited blame in this.

On the other hand, I disagree about the significance of the uptick trading repeal. I explained the theory on one of the AIG threads. The fact that the SEC has now halted all short selling in financial stocks is further proof that relaxing the rules a year ago is part of what caused the AIG/Lehman/Bear Stearns mess.

I also think that the problem could have been mitigated by requiring more transparency in the mortgage-backed securities market. That is a pure SEC issue and something Cox should have been working toward since Day 1 on the job.
9.19.2008 3:03pm
Smokey:
"Samuel Beckett would be proud."

He might also ask what Obama has ever accomplished...
...without Affirmative Action.

That pretty much leaves "community organizer."

Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
Palin's answer to Gibson's question about what she thought the Bush doctrine is. She guessed answered, "His worldview?"

Which is hilarious, though sad.
You can take out your dishonest question mark above. And your answer makes as much sense as your name; explain how the Bush doctrine is not Bush's world view.

*Sheesh* some libs really need to get a clue.
9.19.2008 3:08pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I found this an interesting example of McCain's supposed ignorance:
The more shocking thing about McCain I noticed today is that apparently he didn't know that Prime Minister Zapatero is the Prime Minister of Spain. Seems McCain thought he was president of some Latin American country. Oops.
Oops yourself. He is President, not Prime Minister. This appears an anomaly of the Spanish Constitution, since he is the head of government, and not head of state (King Juan Carlos I or Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias). Nevertheless, his title is President, and not Prime Minister.
9.19.2008 3:24pm
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
So this turns out to be a good example of the pattern mentioned in a comment above that brought this topic up in the first place:


1. Candidate says something that is incorrect in some respect or evinces a lack of knowledge.

2. The error is pointed out by opponents and reported in the news.

3. Supporters of the candidate attack the attackers, refuse to accept there is any error at all, and come up with plausible, semi-plausible, or implausbile alternatives under which the candidate could be viewed as not entirely incorrect.

4. Candidate adopts the best of his or her supporters' explanations, though it's plain he or she did not have that in mind at the time.


I'm sure commenter A man, a Palin, nil. A Panama! appreciates this learning moment.
9.19.2008 3:30pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Various comments above show that even McCain supporters can't agree as to what McCain actually meant re Spain.

To the extent McCain actually did mean that he would continue Bush's idiotic and petulent policy of making enemies out of allies who had entirely justifiable concerns about Bush's Iraq war plans, that would be another reason to oppose McCain.
9.19.2008 3:52pm
karl newman:
My main concern with the Spain and other "gaffs" isn't the way they are spun by both sides, it is the consistent nature of these gaffs. He seems to be making them more frequently than 8 years ago; Given the propensity for melanoma to go to the brain (50% of deaths in melanoma patients), I want to see his medical records. Also given what happened with Ronald Reagan, I want to make sure he doesn't have Alzheimers. I want to know if my vote is for him or Palin because there is a big difference between the two on many issues.

Is there a precedent for candidates openly sharing there medical status? Should both candidates open their records? If this were almost any other job, you could see why we might not be able to ask, but this is the leader of the free world. We can ban a person from driving for seizures, can we at least make sure that the guy with the nuclear trigger has full capacity?
9.19.2008 4:39pm
CB55 (mail):
Milhouse:

The president can not fire the SEC chair as he can not fire the chair of the FED. They do not serve at the pleasure of the president
9.19.2008 5:36pm
CB55 (mail):
Milhouse:

Kindly show me as to law where the chair of the Fed can be fired by the president?
9.19.2008 5:43pm
Cornellian (mail):
I found this an interesting example of McCain's supposed ignorance:

The more shocking thing about McCain I noticed today is that apparently he didn't know that Prime Minister Zapatero is the Prime Minister of Spain. Seems McCain thought he was president of some Latin American country. Oops.

Oops yourself. He is President, not Prime Minister. This appears an anomaly of the Spanish Constitution, since he is the head of government, and not head of state (King Juan Carlos I or Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias). Nevertheless, his title is President, and not Prime Minister.


In fact he is the Prime Minister of Spain (though also the President of the Government of Spain). There's nothing inaccurate about calling him Prime Minister and indeed that's the way he's commonly referred to in the media. See, e.g. Wikipedia:

Prime Minister of Spain
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Prime Minister of Spain, (officially the President of the Government, Spanish: Presidente del Gobierno), is the Spanish head of government. The prime minister is elected by the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of parliament) on being proposed by the King (this step is a mere formality). The current office is established under the Constitution of 1978. It is presently occupied by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.


That wasn't the big deal about McCain's cluelessness in any event, it was that McCain appeared to think Zapatero was the Prime Minister (or President) of some Latin American country.
9.19.2008 5:46pm
CB55 (mail):
As an independent institution, the Federal Reserve has the authority to act on its own without prior approval from Congress or the President, and as such it's members can not be fired by the president. I think it's members can be impeached.
9.19.2008 5:49pm
CB55 (mail):
Cornellian:

People forget that during the last term of the Raygun White House years, not only was he not much of a factor but not much in charge or engaged. It was shortly after he was out of office did we learn he was senile and can only speculate he was during his last term of office.

At 72 McCain might be expressing signs that he is in deed senile or at least showing the early signs of cognative decline that comes with age and his time of mental and physical abuse.
9.19.2008 7:14pm
Smokey:
karl newman:
I want to see his medical records.
Oh, yeah?

Well, I want to see Odumbo's scholastic records. You know: his high school transcripts, his SAT, his LSAT, etc.

What's that you say? They're a secret??

No doubt that's because 0 failed upwards, due to Affirmative Action, bypassing thousands of Asian, caucasian, etc., students, and was handed a free pass into HLS.

Go ahead, karl newman, show us that 0dumbo's progress was a result of merit.

heh.
9.20.2008 1:05am
Bandon:
Dopey or Sneezy or Grumpy or Smokey (or whichever one of you it is who calls people by insulting nicknames):

If you really think that McCain is smarter and has better academic credentials than does Obama, then you clearly have been listening more to the echo inside your head than to the candidates.

And who is this "Odumbo" person anyway? I think it's great that there's some affirmative action for Irish guys.
9.20.2008 2:31am
for teh lulz:
CB55:


As an independent institution, the Federal Reserve has the authority to act on its own without prior approval from Congress or the President, and as such it's members can not be fired by the president.


Wrong. Humphrey's Executor says otherwise.
9.20.2008 9:57am
markm (mail):

LM (mail):
Olberman is a blowhard, so no surprise.

I expect more from McCain.


Popping off without getting the facts or thinking is just what I expect from McCain. He meets the mother of an autistic child, and immediately publicly endorses the thoroughly disproven theory of an autism-vaccine link. A contributor asked for help with federal regulators, and he gave Keating a letter that Keating could use to intimidate the bank regulators...

But it's possible to be worse than that. Democrats generally study things for months, and then they get them wrong!
9.20.2008 11:41am
for teh win:

the Federal Reserve has the authority to act on its own without prior approval from Congress or the President, and as such it's members can not be fired by the president.


Again, wrong. And wrong not just because of Humphrey's Executor but also because of statute. 12 U.S.C. 242:

"each member [of the Federal Reserve] shall hold office for a term of fourteen years from the expiration of the term of his predecessor, unless sooner removed for cause by the President."
9.20.2008 12:08pm
Milhouse (www):
CB55, there's nothing to argue about, you're simply wrong. The chairman of the SEC is appointed by the president, and serves in that role entirely at his pleasure; the president can remove him and appoint another chairman at any moment, at the slightest whim. If you think this is not so, you show me the law that restricts the president from so doing.

As for the chairman of the Fed, please show me where I have ever said anything about this position. I see no reason to justify claims I have never made.


Cornellian, please explain why McCain should have recognised Zapatero's name without any context to guide him. It's not as if Zapatero is a near and dear ally of the USA. By pulling out of the coalition in Iraq he made himself and his country irrelevant to the USA, and I don't see why McCain should instantly recognise his name, any more than he should recognise that of Helen Clark or Vigdis Finbogadotir.
9.21.2008 5:20pm
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
What's funny about this story is that Pete Williams e-mailed me to ask about this very question last week before the Olbermann bit aired.

JHA
9.22.2008 9:21pm