Democrats & Liberals Archives

It's springtime; the monarchy must be in bloom

There’s an old adage: when the cat is away; the mouse will play. Well, in the case of Congress, especially a Democratic-controlled Congress, when Congress goes on recess, the President becomes a dictator.

He did it with Bolton and now he did it with Sam Fox and Andrew Biggs.

While Congress went on recess, Bush took it upon himself to appoint Sam Fox, the bigwig Republican fundraiser, a GOP Ranger and a Swift-boating contributor, to the super-duper-important role of Ambassador of Belgium (link). Yes, this is the very same Sam Fox that Bush withdrew his nomination for the same Ambassadorship just one week ago.

Could this 'flip-flop' on Fox's appointment be politically motivated or is there some urgent need for an Ambassadorship for Belgium. Did something terrible happen in Belgium, like some sort of threat on the world's supply of Chocolate and Beer?

My bet is on the political thing.

Andrew Biggs is no slouch himself.

Biggs (link)is a Cato Institute figure-head and an uber-believer in everything GW Bush. He was a big supporter of Bush's failed 'Privatization of Social Security' debacle and a member of the, oddly Orwellian-named, "Strengthen Social Security" Presidential commission. So it's no surprise that someone like Biggs, that wants to dismantle Social Security in its current form, would be appointed to Deputy Director of Social Security. Such appointments bring back my Bolton memories like it was just yesterday.

Now I realize that the President thinks that Congress is merely a vehicle for his photo-op agenda and fills no actual role in his new, American government vision of total executive control. But why isn't anyone upset about this flagrant abuse of power?

Is it because the President has done this type of thing so many times before during his Presidency that we, as American citizens, have become desensitized and apathetic?

How else can you explain the long list of highly effective republican fundraisers and functional underachievers that have been appointed during this regime? Let's all say: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of job" together to remind us.

So let's all welcome Sam Fox and Andrew Biggs to their newly appointed positions.

All hail our monarchy! At least until Congress returns from Cancun.


Posted by john trevisani at April 5, 2007 9:42 AM
Comments
Comment #215154

Just a fact check. All presidents do this. Clinton did many of them. Cato does not support Bush on everything. In fact many at Cato were critics of the Iraq war before it became so stylish. You have a right to your own opinion, but facts are hard things.

Being upset about these things is like being upset about the springtime weather in your title. You can do it, but it doesn’t make much sense.

Posted by: Jack at April 5, 2007 10:04 AM
Comment #215155

John, I’m thinking it’s the apathy thing. Bush is so sneaky, underhanded and conniving, that he can run these slick maneuvers in his sleep now. After fighting and fighting to prevent so many of his moronic tricks from being pulled off, we just get tired. It drains our energy to keep up the attempts to fend him off. This has been another “leaving the fox to guard the henhouse” scenario.
Oh, what time do the polls open????

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at April 5, 2007 10:08 AM
Comment #215160

All one needs to do is look at Bush’s track record with regard to appointments. I wonder how many have resigned and been fired over the last six years. Perhaps there is a list somewhere? We all know by this point that making credible appointments is not one of his strengths. Now that I think about it I don’t know that he exhibits any strengths needed to run a nation.

Posted by: ILdem at April 5, 2007 10:25 AM
Comment #215161

Jack:
Bush, so far, made 171. Clinton:140 over two terms, GHWB had 77 in one term and Reagan had 243 during his two terms

So is there a point to your comment? The purpose of appointing during recess is that there is an urgent need to fill that couldn’t wait until Congress returns after a lengthy recess.

Posted by: john trevisani at April 5, 2007 10:25 AM
Comment #215165

Interestingly, it’s possible that recess appointment of Sam Fox may be illegal:

Democrats are questioning the Bush administration’s plan to have Fox serve in a voluntary capacity — receiving no pay for his duties as ambassador. This is an important legal technicality, as federal law prohibits “payment of services” for certain recess appointments. However, if the recess appointee in question agrees that he or she will take an unpaid position and not sue the government at a later date for compensation, then the appointment can go forward, at least as the White House sees it.

So as long as Fox — a multi-millionaire — agreed not to sue the Bush administration later for not paying him, the White House would be comfortable with giving him an unpaid, “voluntary service” recess appointment as ambassador to Belgium.

But here’s the rub that makes Democrats view Bush’s recess appointment of Fox as a major-league no-no: Federal law prohibits “voluntary service” in cases where the position in question has a fixed rate of pay, as an ambassadorship does. That’s how the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the Democratic-controlled Congress, interprets the law.

“How to reconcile this clear conflict between the pay restriction, which says that Fox cannot be paid, with the voluntary services provision, which says that the State Department cannot accept voluntary services from Fox?” queried one senior Democratic aide who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the matter.

I know nothing about this type of law, so I can’t say if the Democrats have a leg to stand on, but it has the potential to be interesting.

At least one Democratic Senator (Dodd) plans to challenge the legality of this.

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 5, 2007 10:36 AM
Comment #215178

Oh c’mon now, John. If Sam Fox hadn’t swiftboated Kerry, Bush wouldn’t be president. He owed him.

Besides, everybody knows the Republican philosophy is to put unqualified cronies into office. Why would this be any different.

…What if Fox screws up like Brown and Rumsfeld and Gonzales did and gets us into a shootin’ war with Belgium? Maybe that’s Bush’s plan for a third term…

Posted by: American Pundit at April 5, 2007 11:31 AM
Comment #215181

John

My point is that president do it. Nobody should be shocked. This is a non news news.

I just excerpted this from Wikipedia. It shows the routine nature of these things (although I remember Lam faced fierce oppostion). If this is not shocking (and it is not) maybe what Bush does is not either.

President Clinton made a recess appointment of Bill Lan Lee as Assistant Attorney General for civil rights, when it Senate oppossed. When the Senate did not vote on his nomination of James Hormel to be Ambassador to Luxembourg, Clinton made a recess appointment. On one of the last days of his Presidency, Clinton used the recess appointment power to place Roger L. Gregory on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

As you wrote, he did this 140 times. Big deal.

Posted by: Jack at April 5, 2007 11:56 AM
Comment #215186

John,

Even if this is technically illegal, it’s the small-time stuff. Focus on the major offenses.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 5, 2007 12:17 PM
Comment #215187

Jack, I checked out that article you’re quoting from. You left out some stuff:

President Bill Clinton made a recess appointment of Bill Lan Lee as Assistant Attorney General for civil rights, when it became clear that Lee’s strong support of affirmative action would lead to Senate opposition.

Similarly, when the Senate did not vote on his nomination of James Hormel to be Ambassador to Luxembourg, Clinton made a recess appointment. Many people felt that the Senate’s inaction was because Hormel was openly gay, and when he was appointed became the first such person to serve as a U.S. ambassador.

On one of the last days of his Presidency, Clinton used the recess appointment power to place Roger L. Gregory on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Gregory was the first African-American to serve on that court.

Sounds like all Clinton’s recess appointments were made to qualified candidates who were blocked by Republicans because of things like gayness and race, and Bush’s appointments were made to cronies who were blocked because they were unqualified.

Heck, it was the Republicans who tossed out Harriet Miers, she was so unqualified.

It’s interesting that Clinton made 140 recess appointments and Bush has made 167 — so far. It’s interesting because Clinton was facing a hostile Congress and Bush had a friendly one. Obviously Bush was pushing more Brownies than even Republicans would tolerate.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 5, 2007 12:20 PM
Comment #215191

john,

It’s arguments like this that further enhance my perception of your inability for rational dialogue of any substance. Move on.

Posted by: wkw at April 5, 2007 12:25 PM
Comment #215202
Heck, it was the Republicans who tossed out Harriet Miers, she was so unqualified.

BTW, I’m still ticked-off that those obstructionist Republicans wouldn’t allow a straight up or down vote on Miers.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 5, 2007 12:56 PM
Comment #215204

Frankly, I think it’s the least we can do for Belgium—after all, when you think about it, what’s Belgium ever done for us? Waffles? C’mon.

Another recess appointment to do an end-run around Congress. Must be that bipartisanship in action, Bush style. All in keeping with giving the American people a government that is the envy of the civilized world.

Have we attacked Iran yet?

Posted by: Tim Crow at April 5, 2007 1:08 PM
Comment #215214

John,

“All hail our monarchy! At least until Congress returns from Cancun”


Recess appointments are (perfectly) legal; so I guess that means that the Democrats will want to subpoena the Bush Admin, huh?!


If anyone is at fault here during this congressional recess, it’s congress. How dare they defund the troops and leave them hanging like that. I thought they “support the troops”?!!! Then, Pelosi goes over to Syria and undermines the President to talk to Assaad and tells them that “Israel’s ready to engage in Peace talks”, and the Iraeli PM stated that they said no such thing.”

Posted by: rahdigly at April 5, 2007 1:53 PM
Comment #215218
How dare they defund the troops and leave them hanging like that.

Huh? They have put together a funding bill that fully funds the troops and are getting ready to send it to the President. How is that defunding? Considering that previous years this bill wasn’t ready until May or June, it’s laughable that conservatives are complaining about the timing now.

So, a full-funding bill earlier than in the past. I’d say that’s support.

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 5, 2007 2:04 PM
Comment #215230
“So, a full-funding bill earlier than in the past. I’d say that’s support. “


The Dems didn’t have the fortitude or the decency to defund the troops straight up; instead they had to bribe the anti-war caucus of their own party with “pork” projects. There’s more money alloted to spinach than it does to the troops. It’s a joke and so are the dems for pulling this stunt and then go on vacation. Arrogant Cowards!!

Posted by: rahdigly at April 5, 2007 2:20 PM
Comment #215232
Arrogant Cowards!!

Funny that you consider your opposition to be “Arrogant Cowards!!” when they have done nothing that your allies haven’t done dozens of times themselves.

Oh, it’s not funny. It’s hypocrisy.

There’s more money alloted to spinach than it does to the troops.

And a lie, too, to boot.

It’s also funny Conservatives disparage the Democrats in Congress for going on recess when the President is going on vacation, too.

Oh, that’s hypocrisy again. Sorry.

The Dems didn’t have the fortitude or the decency to defund the troops straight up;

Again, they fully fund the troops for the time being. There’s no defunding at all. Yet another mistruth mixed in.

Posted by: LawnBoy at April 5, 2007 2:28 PM
Comment #215256

Ambassadorships are always given to reward a President’s political allies, cronies, and fundraisers, often with no regard whatsoever to the rest of their profesional resumes, so talking about the nominee’s “qualifications” in this area is irrelevant. It’s not the same thing at all nominating a judge or a cabinet member and has never been treated as such by members of any party.

Is the appointment just politics? Yes it is. Just as it was just politics to oppose him to “get even” with him for his association with the Swiftvets.

If Bush is dancing around the rules—adhering to the letter of the law and not the spirit of it with this recess appointment—the Dems were doing the same thing in abusing Congress’s role of “advise and consent” to administer cheap political payback.


Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 5, 2007 5:10 PM
Comment #215265

AP

I just rewrote to shorten. I do not think Lam was qualified and neither did the Senate. That is why Clinton made the recess appointment. It was a similar situation to what we have now. The same with Hormel. He was just a big donor. The situation is precisely parallel. It is just that you favor the politics of Clinton.

LO

Most political appointee Ambassadors are qualified and they are also donors. The Senate did not quarrel with qualifications. Kerry was mad that this guy gave money to a group that may have cost him the election. It was a personal spat.

Posted by: Jack at April 5, 2007 6:11 PM
Comment #215315

Jack:

I do not think Lam was qualified and neither did the Senate.

So what year did you serve in the Senate?

Most political appointee Ambassadors are qualified and they are also donors. So tell me again: What make Fox qualified?

Honestly Jack, Bush did an end-around. How else can you explain Bush removing Fox’s nomination one week and then doing an end-around by appointing Fox the very next week BECAUSE the Senate went on recess. If you can explain your way around this one; i’d might believe you served in the Senate.

Posted by: john trevisani at April 6, 2007 8:25 AM
Comment #215318

wkw:

It’s arguments like this that further enhance my perception of your inability for rational dialogue of any substance. Move on.

I think you meant to use the word ‘opinion’ instead of ‘perception’. For nothing can really enhance a perception; as a perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting or organizing sensory information. Clearly reading something on the net would not qualify as a sensory experience. But an opinion would be different. You can form your opinion of me or my work and then create your own perception from your opinion.

So if you need to enhance your perception, you need to refine your own opinion, not me.

Posted by: john trevisani at April 6, 2007 8:37 AM
Comment #215349

john,

Okay, fine, I will grant you the definition. If that is all you have, then this lowers my opinion further in your ability for rational dialogue.

Posted by: wkw at April 6, 2007 1:24 PM
Comment #215388
I do not think Lam was qualified and neither did the Senate. That is why Clinton made the recess appointment.

Jack, I think you’re suffering from the same delusion Orrin Hatch is. Lam was a Bush appointment, and her performance reviews showed her to be very qualified.

Jack, I’d expect you, at least, to be able to do a simple Google search before you make such misleading statements like that.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 6, 2007 11:20 PM
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