Why not the best?

On August 30, I reported that Ted Olson was the likely nominee for Attorney General. Two weeks later, it turns out that the nominee instead is Michael Mukasey. What happened?
My understanding is that Olson lost out because the White House waited too long to announce his nomination after it became known on the Hill that he was the choice. This allowed the Democrats to organize the opposition. Whether the excessive wait was a product of incompetence among the White House staff or the opposition of some of them to Olson is unclear.
What’s clear is that the White House has performed unevenly when it comes to nominating people for law jobs. I’m thinking less about Olson’s non-nomination than about the nominations of Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers, and the failure to make timely, top-quality nominations for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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