Andy – I agree that this is a grotesquely hypocritical and shabby move by Obama and the Democrats. I’m not altogether convinced it’s unconstitutional (there’s some interesting discussion over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the issue).
I also wonder if Congress will do anything about it. But I also wonder whether Obama did it this way precisely so he could spark a bigger fight. As I understand it, he could have followed a more accommodating precedent by doing an interim appointment between the 2011 and 2012 sessions. He opted instead to do it this way, inviting more outrage. It may be that he considers the politics of the fight more important than winning it (as Dan notes below, Cordray may have no power until he’s confirmed by the senate anyway). I’m all for Congress pushing back against encroachments by the imperial presidency. But we should at least keep in mind Obama is entirely in campaign mode these days and his maneuvers and provocations have more to do with getting reelected than anything else. That doesn’t mean Republicans shouldn’t spring his traps when necessary, but they should go in understanding that they are, in fact, traps.