Hopefully, the cycle of public cynicism about government will soon abate. (Patrick Nouhailler/flickr)
By Robert Bradley
At a time when the media, general public, Congress, and the presidential administration are consumed with several scandals, including the IRS, the AP reporters, and Benghazi, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to focus on some positive developments in the nation’s capital.
-The first would be the pending Senate confirmation of Sri Srinivasan for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 18-0 to approve of President Obama’s nomination of Srinivasan to the federal court of appeals. This is noteworthy because it was strong show of bi-partisan support for the nomination, and the Committee’s vote is usually a very reliable indicator of what the full Senate will do, which means that Srinivasan will likely get overwhelming support for his confirmation. The timing of the Senate confirmation vote also reflects bi-partisanship because Republican Senator McConnell, the Senate Minority leader, and Democratic Senator Reid, the Senate Majority leader, worked together to schedule a timely confirmation vote.
The confirmation of Srinivasan to the D.C. Court of Appeals is important for several reasons. The D.C. Court of Appeals is generally considered to be the unofficial second highest court in the nation. It hears many of the appeals on litigation dealing with federal government practices. And it serves as a pool for possible Supreme Court nominees. Currently, four of the nine Court justices came from the D.C. Court of Appeals. Srinivasan is considered to be lead contender for a nomination to the Supreme Court if a vacancy occurs during President Obama’s second term. Also, Srinivasan is the first person from a South-East Asian nation to be nominated for a federal appellate court position.
-The second would be the development of a working bi-partisan agreement on addressing the student loan crisis in this nation. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree that the student loan crisis needs immediate attention, and that interest rates cannot be allowed to double by the end of the summer if nothing is done. There is also bi-partisan agreement that interest rates on federal loan programs for higher education need to be lowered. Details to be worked out include how far interest rates will be lowered, how long the lower rates will remain in effect, and whether the lower rates will have a retroactive effect. While not receiving much public or media attention, members of both parties realize that this is a vital issue for the future world standing of the nation, and that inaction and unfulfilled promises are not going to accomplish anything.
-A third piece of good news is Secretary of State Kerry’s time and effort in working toward a Middle East peace proposal between Israeli and Palestinian officials. In the last eight weeks, Secretary Kerry has visited the area four times. He has communicated directly with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President of the Palestinian Authority Abbas multiple times. Indicators of progress toward peace are: officials from both sides are quite complimentary of Kerry’s efforts; secrecy has been maintained about the contents of the talks; and, both sides have agreed to produce and discuss official peace proposals sooner than later. At a time when nothing but bad news is coming out of other parts of the Middle East, this little covered peace initiative is quite good news.
While these stories indicate that D.C. can indeed be functional, news coverage of it is quite negative and public trust and confidence in the federal government continues to erode. Hopefully, the cycle of public cynicism about government will soon abate. If not, our democracy will be in serious jeopardy.
Bob Bradley is solely responsible for the opinions expressed above. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of WJBC, Radio Bloomington or Cumulus Media staff or management.
Bradley was a full-time professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University where he has been since 1982. He has received several recognitions including: Carnegie Scholar for Civic Engagement, Constitution Trail Friend of the Year, and Faculty Star distinction by ISU Athletics. He dearly loves his wife, Reenie, of more than 25 years, and his daughter, Erin. He is an avid reader, devout sports enthusiast, gardener, golfer, and bird watcher.