Is Pres. Obama trying to buy a Utah congressman’s vote?

Check out this story.    President Obama has just named Scott Matheson, brother of Rep. Jim Matheson, to a federal judge’s post.  Rep. Matheson is a key “undecided” vote on the health care bill.  The story implies the timing of the nomination is fishy.

Under normal circumstances, it appears you couldn’t come up with a more qualified person than Scott Matheson to name to the court.  He’s apparently got impeccable credentials.    The timing of this nomination could not be more unfortunate for either of the Mathesons.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

26 thoughts on “Is Pres. Obama trying to buy a Utah congressman’s vote?

  1. Oh brother. Leave it to the Weekly Standard to concoct a conspiracy from pure circumstance. Why even blog about this? Scott Matheson’s more than qualified to take a seat on the federal bench.

  2. Geoff,

    He does not need Matheson’s vote. There are plenty of votes in the House of Representatives, where only a simply majority is needed. Additionally, Matheson is not undecided, he voted against it last year.

    Scott is pretty stinking moderate. Conservatives should be pretty pleased with this one. The only thing fishy here is the conspiracy theory. Nice job spreading the sewage.

  3. Chris H, actually, Matheson has now said he is undecided. The story is out there regardless of whether our little blog with a few hundred readers covers it or not. Many big blogs have linked to it, and you can bet it will be on talk radio, Fox news, etc. This is your chance to put forward your opinion. Go for it.

    FWIW, I like both of the Mathesons, from what I’ve heard. As I say, both of their reputations are going to be hurt by this — take the opportunity to defend them if you wish.

  4. If Obama gets heat from conservatives when he nominates an eminently qualified moderate to the federal bench, then he might as well start nominating those “liberal activist” judges that we keep hearing about–he apparently has nothing to lose.

  5. This is definitely a case of poor timing for the Obama administration. Even if there is no attempt to buy Matheson’s vote, this appointment raises the question. If the shoe were on the other foot, you can bet the Democrats would be raising the issue.

    Bottom line- it’s fair game to question the appointment. As for raw sewage, check the White House pipes, not M*.

  6. Geoff,

    The important part is that it does not matter how Jim Matheson votes on the healthcare legislation.

    Steve M,

    I would prefer liberal judges, so I hope they end up following that route.

  7. We’ll have to agree to disagree, Chris. 🙂

    Personally, I think Matheson is a great choice. Be that as it may, the timing still stinks. Obama needs to do a better job on timing.

  8. There’s something wrong (as if we didn’t already know) about public discourse when the focus always has to be on looking for/inventing/defending/refuting political subterfuge or the expectation of it, rather than on the merits of the man appointed to actually accomplish something. Really, which matters most? That the choked court system can begin to move ahead, with decisions made that affect people’s lives and the functioning of society in the real world, or that we get bogged down yet again in the mire of suspicion and accusation and self-interest of the artificial and largely irrelevant world of political spin?

    Let’s talk again when there is evidence of wrongdoing on anyone’s part, and give those of us who are actually going to be affected by this action the rare luxury of celebrating the appointment of a wise and good man from whom there is every reason to expect justice.


    …President Obama could not have found a more suitable nominee, from a liberal Democratic perspective, than Scott Matheson. It would be unfair to assume that he selected Matheson in order to influence his brother; on the contrary, if Matheson had no siblings at all he would be an ideal liberal judicial candidate. So I think we must acquit President Obama of that charge.

  10. From what I have read the House is where the legislation may be killed, not the Senate. And with a death, some resignations, and defections, the Dems are scrambling to lock up enough votes to get it passed. So far it looks like they don’t have the necessary votes. That may have been why Jim Matheson was at a White House party last night with nine other previously “No” voting Democrats. The Administration needs to arm twist any vote it can get.

    That said, Scott Matheson is qualified and a good pick from Utah. He was my professor at law school and although I don’t agree with his politics as expressed publicly, you never got that in his classroom. He has the experience, qualifications, and temperament to be a good judge. Sadly, as the Power Line blog cited above mentions, he’ll be replacing another great professor from the U, Michael McConnell, whose views I greatly preferred. But they are both good men.

    As mentioned before, the timing is highly unfortunate. I can’t imagine that Jim Matheson would switch his vote. I think it would damage him greatly in the upcoming elections. I don’t think this his brother’s nomination is likely to switch his vote. But as a representative from Utah, if he decided to switch his vote for an increasingly unpopular piece of legislation, it would be hard to overlook this connection.

  11. “He’s apparently got impeccable credentials. ”

    Going further than this is just looking for conspiracy theories to denigrate Matheson. Would conservatives prefer President Obama choose someone less qualified that doesn’t share the last name with any Democratic politician?

  12. “Even if there is no attempt to buy Matheson’s vote, this appointment raises the question. If the shoe were on the other foot, you can bet the Democrats would be raising the issue.”

    This perfectly sums up U.S. politics right now.

  13. “From what I have read the House is where the legislation may be killed, not the Senate. And with a death, some resignations, and defections, the Dems are scrambling to lock up enough votes to get it passed.”

    David, where have you read this? This is new to me.

    BTW, I love McConnell. Granted, I wish more conservative where like McConnell. Of course, not sure if there is much room on the right for Burkean intellectuals.

  14. Something that the Obama Admin needs to learn, understand and commit to memory and put into action is to avoid the appearance of evil, conflicts of interest, etc, etc. He is intelligent engough and has enough of the “best and brightest” that someone should notice these types of situations and put the breaks on them.

  15. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Matheson’s name has been thrown around since Obama took office, long before the President was looking for votes. If so isn’t that enough for Republicans to let this go and look for the next reason why President Obama is destroying the country?

  16. Chris H. –

    As I understand it, the point of reconciliation is that the House needs to pass the already-passed Senate version of the bill and then the Senate can go back and “fix” its version to incorporate the changes necessary to get the House’s approval. Assuming that reconciliation is the plan as has been unveiled this week, the House is the next step and from all press accounts I’ve seen and on righty blogs I follow (I’ll spare you those) al the action is happening in the House. You can follow to see that all the action is going on at the House side.

    Besides the loss of Rep. Murtha and a few resignations, some pro-life Dems are saying they can’t abide the Senate version. The House doesn’t have the votes yet and that’s where all the pressure is right now.

    jjohnsen –

    If Scott Matheson was on the nominee list since Pres. Obama took office (which is probably true) why was he announced now? Especially yesterday when HCR was rebooted (again) with the President’s big speech and Rep. Matheson’s attendance last night at the White House? Judge McConnell announced his resignation May 9 of last year. So why yesterday? Bad timing.

    My point is not that the allegations are true but give some slack to those who are making a connection. Even if they are true, I can’t believe Jim Matheson would flip his vote as I would expect it would make his reelection MUCH more difficult if not impossible.

    It’s moot now, because after all this kerfuffle, there’s no way Matheson can vote for HCR without it looking fishy.

  17. Talk about a manufactured bunch of hooey. This goes on all the time. It’s called politics. It’s how things are done. If it were something underhanded, I doubt very much that Orrin Hatch, a whiner par excellent, would have had nice things to say about the selection.

  18. Matheson is about as good a judge that Obabma could pick considering my own politics. I think just the timing is bad.

  19. @David Sundwall Regarding reconcilliation. If the House passes the Senate’s Christmas Eve healthcare bill there is no need for reconcilliation. All that is needed is for both houses of Congress to pass the exact same bill for the president to sign it, and he will. Once the house has passed that bill, the president will sign it.

    If there are any changes made they have to be made before a vote. And if there are changes made to the Senate’s bill as it winds thru the house, then a Confrence is required, both houses have to vote on whatever comes out of Confrence…if this is they case then reconcilliation will be used.

  20. Joyce Brinton Anderson –

    You’re correct that if the House was willing to just accept the Senate version, they could vote on that and send it to the President and game over. But it doesn’t sound like the House wants to do that without assurances that the Senate later “corrects” its bill with changes that will make it palatable to the House. And that would require reconciliation.

    The House and Senate don’t like each other’s versions due to various issues (i.e. special deals for unions, abortion, etc.). A conference committee can only be used if both houses can get together and agree on similar language. But then they still have to go back to their respective bodies and still pass it out of each body. That’s not (likely) possible anymore with Scott Brown’s election, breaking the Dems filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

    So reconciliation is now being championed as the Dem’s best hope as a way to reach a compromise and bypass a filibuster. This all assuming that the House can trust the WH and Senate that they will make after-the-fact tweaks to make the changes they want. Because as you say, once the House passed the Senate bill, the Pres. can sign it into law and they can all forget about the promised changes used to induce the House votes.

    BTW: Is anyone else not getting email updates to the comments? I seem to be subscribed to comments but I haven’t received any.

  21. Let’s say this little piece of conspiracy is entirely true for a moment. My first question is still “so what?” This hardly qualifies as graft and corruption if the candidate is qualified and will do a good job regardless of what put him there. This is a complete snorer. Maybe its because I lack the irrational fear of impending doom that enables conservatives to make the “They’re going to kill Grandma” argument, but there are doubtless many appointments that have been made in our history for much more nefarious motives than passing health care legislation.

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