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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 8/9/2001

How it ought to work

President Bush's nominations of federal prosecutor Robert S. Mueller 3rd to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation and of Mary Sheila Gall to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in their contrasts, make clear what government ought to be.

On the one hand, after several days of grueling hearings, Mr. Mueller, a Republican, won confirmation by a 98-0 vote in the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, hours after its Judiciary Committee unanimously recommended him.

On the other, Ms. Gall, an incumbent, the only Republican on the three-member safety panel, and one who gained her seat in a deal cut during the Clinton administration, was zapped by the Judiciary Committee.

In each case the personal records of the nominees governed. Senators were impressed with Mr. Mueller's appearance of integrity, with his success as a federal prosecutor, with his focus, his evenhandedness, and his management skill.

But Ms. Gall's record, in the words of Sen. John Edwards, showed her as one who “repeatedly opposed modest standards that would prevent injury, even when the standards were supported by industry ... Instead of trying to make products safer, she blames consumers, parents, and caregivers.” It would be a joke for such a person to serve as chief advocate for those who can't defend themselves, and that's the job of the safety panel's chairman.

In 1999 she opposed requiring bunk bed makers to fix a problem that had killed 29 children over 10 years and injured 31,000. In 1994 she voted against an investigation into baby bath seats with a penchant for tipping. She constantly sought to vindicate manufacturers at the expense of consumers.

Rather than plot political payback, the GOP would be wise to focus on job requirements, as they did with Mr. Mueller, and find a suitable person regardless of political stripe for this very important post. Ms. Gall can't represent their best effort.



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