Up for a Senate Confirmation Hearing? Be Boring

committee1These days, it seems that even the most mundane, bureaucratic presidential appointment is capable of provoking a firestorm of political controversy.

Take Robert Harding’s recent withdrawal from consideration for TSA Administrator, due to “distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor,” according to his statement.  One would think that having experience in and ties to an industry with which he would work closely as TSA administrator would be a good thing, but apparently, acting in his company’s interest in one dispute with a DoD Inspector General over an early-terminated contract was enough to derail his nomination.

Ties to a particular industry aren’t the only thing that can derail a Senate confirmation.  The last man up for the job of TSA Administrator, Erroll Southers, bailed out of his nomination bid after questions about a reprimand he received as a top official with the Los Angeles Airport Police Department for running an illegal background check on his then-estranged wife’s boyfriend over twenty years ago.

Of course, when someone is up for a nomination to, say, the Supreme Court, confirmations generally go more smoothly when you’ve never made controversial comments on camera at a Berkeley Law School seminar or had a former staffer make sexual harassment allegations.

In fact, the easiest road to confirmation is to simply be boring.  Tie up your loose ends now, too – better to make sure everything is in order before landing in the papers; once you’re in the media, you’re their property.

There’s an old adage in media: any press is good press.  But when you’re up for Senate confirmation, that adage should be reversed: any press is bad press.

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