Omarova and out

Saule Omarova, Joe Biden’s pick to be one of America’s top banking regulators, has withdrawn from the nomination process. You may remember Omarova — as I explained in the DC Diary a few weeks ago, she is the shoplifting radical with a track record of dicey economic thinking.

Why is Omarova backing out of her bid to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency? According to the president, it’s because “from the very beginning, Saule was subjected to inappropriate personal attacks that were far beyond the pale.”

According to the New York Times, “Bank lobbyists and Republicans painted [Omarova] as a communist because she was born in the Soviet Union.”

It might be true that a few Republican lawmakers took their red-baiting too far. But is that really why Omarova has dropped out? After all, the best response to inappropriate attacks would be to press ahead with the nomination process. But the White House has not done that because it does not have the votes. Moderate Democrats have reservations about the Elizabeth Warren-approved Omarova.

And those reservations are based not on where Omarova was born but on what she has said about banking regulation.

In explaining Omarova’s withdrawal, the White House has cited a Wall Street Journal editorial “suggesting that Ms Omarova’s Soviet childhood meant that she could not be trusted.” That is a flagrant misrepresentation. As the Journal editorial board points out, “the issue isn’t where she was from but that she hadn’t disavowed her radical views about the US financial system. This included her recent proposal that the Federal Reserve take over consumer bank deposits, ‘effectively end banking as we know it,’ and become ‘the ultimate public platform for generation, modulation, and allocating financial resources in a modern economy.’”

The White House isn’t fooling anyone. It is these views, not “inappropriate personal attacks,” that doomed Omarova’s nomination.

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Grifters in our midst

Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw has turned his guns on the right. At an event with Republican congressional candidates in Houston, Crenshaw said that the conservative movement has “grifters in our midst, not here, not in this room. I mean the conservative movement.”

“Lie after lie after lie, because you know something psychologically about the conservative heart: We’re worried about what people are going to do to us, what they’re going to do to us, what they’re going to infringe upon us — that’s the nature of conservatism,” he said.

Who could he have meant? Crenshaw wasn’t shy about that question, saying his comments were directed at “everyone in the Freedom Caucus — all of them.”

Crenshaw drew a distinction between legislators and “performance artists” within the Freedom Caucus, a House grouping that includes Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks. The attack is all the more significant given that the Houston native is hardly a squishy moderate himself. And, as he points out, the importance of the distinction between MAGA-world outrage machines and lawmakers actually interested in their day jobs can hardly be understated.

Time to step aside, Beto?

Matthew Dowd has ended his campaign for lieutenant governor of Texas. The decision, he said Tuesday, was made “from a place of integrity” and Dowd has argued that it is up to “white male Christians” to “take it upon ourselves to step back and give more people who don’t look like us access to the levers of power.”

The slight problem with Dowd’s logic is that the two candidates left in the lieutenant governor are white. But the real question is whether gubernatorial candidate and fellow white male Beto O’Rourke will do the right thing, follow Dowd’s lead and step aside.

A judicial nothingburger

Biden’s court-packing commission has reported its findings. The technical term for the report, put together by 34 lawyers, retired judges and academics, is a nothingburger. That, of course, is by design. The White House handed the question of Supreme Court reforms to this expert panel to still progressive demands for more justices to tip the political balance back leftwards.

But will the report provide any long term resolution to the issue? If, by the end of this session, the 6-3 court delivers judgments that liberals find displeasing — especially in high-profile cases like Dobbs — the pressure to pack the court will surely return.

If that happens, Biden’s commission has provided useful arguments for the status quo. “Courts cannot serve as effective checks on government officials if their personnel can be altered by those same government officials,” argues the commission. The report also lists the many countries where “manipulation of the composition of the judiciary has been a worrying sign of democratic backsliding.” It includes Venezuela, Turkey and Hungary. Does Biden want to add America to that list?

What you should be reading today

Daniel DePetris: Biden must encourage Ukraine to negotiate
Teresa Mull: Big government is ruining trucking
Daniel Tenreiro: Why Trump is getting in on the SPAC boom
Graham Allison and Eric Schmidt, Wall Street Journal: China will soon lead the US in tech
Elizabeth Drew, Project Syndicate: Why isn’t Washington merry?
James Traub, Politico: Inside Biden’s two-day Zoom plan to rescue democracy

Poll watch

President Biden Job Approval
Approve: 42.9 percent
Disapprove: 51.5 percent
Net approval: -8.6 (RCP Average)

College students who would not go on a date with someone who voted for the opposing presidential candidate
Democrats: 71 percent
Republicans: 31 percent (Generation Lab/Axios)

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