I’m still a bit more ambivalent. First, I mistrust decisions that can be easily spun in different ways to different audiences. Talking to the lefty blogger crowd, the administration can say that this shows the depth of their support for Warren, and in no way prevents a permanent nomination from occurring at some later date. The reality, as they’ve been explaining, is that the Senate isn’t moving nominations right now and the Republicans are filibustering everything, so in the short-term, it was this or nothing.
And all that’s true. On the other hand, it would also be easy to explain this to a member of the financial industry. The grass-roots pressure to appoint Warren was overwhelming. But this way, she’s merely an adviser. She doesn’t actually have the powers of the office. And after doing this, there’s no way Senate Republicans will ever let her have the permanent spot. Warren’s interim appointment makes the politics of a permanent appointment almost impossible.
And here’s the thing: Both explanations are true! Republicans really are holding up the nomination process. In the short term, it really was this or nothing. Over the long-run, this really will make it impossible to imagine Republicans letting Warren through a confirmation process. Whether this is a good or bad outcome depends on your assessment of the counterfactuals, in which Obama either didn’t appoint her at all or tried to appoint her and faced a fight he may or may not have won against the Republicans in Congress.