Bush Bypasses Congress To Pick Fox in Recess Appointment

George Bush still does not get the fact that this is a democracy and that there are other co-equal branches of government. The Founding Fathers believed that major Presidential appointments should be done with the advice and consent of the Senate. The voters felt that the President was not exercising his responsibilities in a competent or honest manner and voted to place further checks on him by electing a Congress of the opposing party. The White House realized there were not enough votes to confirm Sam Fox as Ambassador to Belgium following Fox’s actions to undermine the democratic process in this country by contributing to the Swift Boat Liars, who were responsible for the most dishonest smear campaign in recent history.

None of this matters in Bush World. Buried towards the bottom of a White House Personnel Announcement is this line: ” Sam Fox, of Missouri, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Belgium.” Bob Geiger has posted the responses of John Kerry and Chris Dodd:

“It’s sad but not surprising that this White House would abuse the power of the presidency to reward a donor over the objections of the Senate,” said Kerry, in a statement. “This nomination was withdrawn because the Administration realized it would lose in the Foreign Relations Committee. Unfortunately, when this White House can’t win the game, they just change the rules, and America loses.”

“Our country would be stronger if this Administration spent more time getting body armor for our soldiers in Iraq than it did helping their powerful friends.”

Also reacting with outrage, is Chris Dodd (D-CT), who was the first Senator to publicly state his strong opposition to the Fox nomination.

“It is outrageous that the President has sought to stealthily appoint Sam Fox to the position of ambassador to Belgium when the President formally requested that the Fox nomination be withdrawn from the Senate because it was facing certain defeat in the Foreign Relations Committee last week,” said Dodd. “I seriously question the legality of the President’s use of the recess appointment authority in this instance. I intend to seek an opinion on the legality of this appointment from the General Accountability Office and invite other Senators to join with me in that request.”

The remainder of Bush’s term is going to see many political battles. Actions such as this on the part of George Bush act to demonstrate that any checks placed on the White House by the Democratic Congress are justified and necessary.

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11 Comments

  1. 1
    Ron Chusid says:

    Right wingers obviously don’t know the difference between recess appointments being authorized by the Constitution and appropriate use of the act. Use of a recess appointment during a spring break is not what was intended, especially in the case of someone who could not win confirmation when the Senate is in session.

  2. 2
    Frank White says:

    Well, why don’t you explain the difference between “recess appointments being authorized by the Constitution and appropriate use of the act.” After all you liberals are so smart, I’m sure it won’t be any trouble. How would one define what is an “appropriate use of the act?”

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    The point of recess appointments is to enable the President to make appointments when Congress is not in session. When the Constitution was written it was not envisioned that Congress would be in session for the bulk of the year and there might be periods of months in which Congress would not be in session. It would then be necessary for a back up mechanism for appointments so that posts do not go unfilled for months.

    Recess appointments were not intended for use while Congress is briefly out of session for a holiday. There is no need for a recess appointment here as Congress will be returning shortly to act on any nominations. It also goes against the intent of the provision to use it to give an appointment to someone who is unqualified for the position and it is known the nominaiton could not get through Congress.

    The question ultimately is whether you respect the rule of law, including the limitations on the powers of the President as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The authoritarian right is willing to cover for Bush regardless of what he does, and regardless of how much he violates the principles this country was founded upon.

  4. 4
    Frank White says:

    Well, that was a nice opinion, but you have yet to provide any sort of evidence/case law/ etc to back up your position? How do you know what was or was not envisioned when The Constitution was written? How do you know what the intent of the provision is? Just because you say so? The question has nothing to do with whether you respect the rule of law, but how The Constitution should be interpreted. Your attempt to vilify those you don’t agree with through the use of unsubstantiated rhetoric is juvenile at best.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Frank,

    It’s not just my opinion. This is how the Constitution is generally interpreted, and the only interpretation that really makes any sense. Do you really think it makes sense that this was intended to allow for the President to totally bypass the goal of requiring that appointments be approved by the Senate simply because they are gone briefly for a holiday? If this was the case, all appointments could be saved for the next holiday, or perhaps just do it over the next weekend that the Senate isn’t in session.

    Wikipidia, for example, writes “The purpose of the recess appointment power was to permit the President to keep offices filled when it was anticipated that the Senate would only meet during a small portion of the year. Until the 1930s, Congress rarely convened in the hot Washington summer, and a spring vacancy in an office might have to wait until the Senate convened in December to consider a nomination.”

    This is all about respect for rule of law, which Bush supporters have repeatedly ignored to justify whatever he wants to do. Abuse of separations of powers has been a problem under many Presidents, but Bush has taken this to a new level.

    As for juvenile rhetoric, it was you who came here expressing a juvenile attitude in your initial comment. If you can’t take the response, you should think twice before posting such comments.

  6. 6
    Frank White says:

    How the Constitution is generally interpreted by who? The Supreme Court? In what case? Maybe that was the intent. Maybe the founding fathers knew that humans are sometimes fickle and petty creatures, and that the president should be given a loophole to appoint who he sees fit, to avoid petty tit-for-tat that is going on with the appointment of the ambassador to Belgium.

    I don’t care what wikipedia writes. For all I know you personally edited it to say that. All I did was ask for you to explain the difference between “recess appointments being authorized by the Constitution and appropriate use of the act.”

    When as a Bush supported ignored the law? I’m sure there are an equal number of people on both sides of the political spectrum that ignore the law. Look at the war profiteer Diane Finestien and how she and her husband made millions at the expense of the lives of those in the US Military.

  7. 7
    John Isaacson says:

    We deal with the Recess Appointments issue almost daily, and particularly agree with the assessment that Bush, et al, is essentially an anti-constitutional Presidency. Although he has not used the recess appointment much more than many Presidents, almost every one was offensive to the ideas of Constitutional, lawful government.

    There is an important place for recess appointments in emergency situations and the process makes constitutional sense in many hypothetical settings – a few of which have actually happened over the years.

    In dealing with Presidential Appointments on a daily basis, we are never surprised at how little attention the Bush government gives the People instead of private, usually economic interests. The Baroody nomination to Consumer Safety is almost certainly going to be another slap in the face of the confirmation process, not to speak of a brutalizing gut punch to the safety of consumers.

    John Isaacson
    Director@Presidential-Appointments.org

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Frank,

    You seem to only care about arguments which support your own view, such as in “I don’t care what wikipedia writes.” I assume you would ignore any other such arguments contrary to own views. It’s not a matter of a Supreme Court case. It is probably technically legal, but that doesn’t make it unobjectionable. There may even be times when there would be benefits to allowing a President to get an appointment while bypassing Congress. A case like this, where an appointment is given to reward a political donor who was shown in the hearings to be unqualified for the position is hardly the case were there is justification for bypassing Congress.

    This is quite typical of Bush. We saw it when he deceived Congress about WMD and about his plans to seek a diplomatic settlement before going to war, when he prevented testimony before Congress on the cost of his Medicare drug plan, and with the warrantless wiretaps.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Frank (continued),

    This also isn’t about one party or the other. I oppose abuses of power by either party. Diane Feinstein should not have made decisions in Congress related to her husband’s business. However this has no bearing on what George Bush has done. The fact that other people may have done things that are unethical or abusive of power does not in any way excuse anything Bush has done.

    This gets back to the problem we see with Bush supporters. While in the past there would be bipartisan outrage over abuses of power, in recent years Republicans have shown a great tendency to allow fellow Republicans to do anything, while accepting any attack on a Democrat, regardless of the validity. Such extreme partisanship is very dangerous in a democracy.

  10. 10
    Frank White says:

    I don’t care what wikipedia says because anyone can edit it. If it was from some other source I would probably take it seriously. Let’s look at this case with Sam Fox. He donated money to the Swift Boats, a group whose claims were never proved false. Did Kerry sue them for libel or slander? If their claims were false, why didn’t he? So Kerry and the Democrats, still sore after losing the election, take out their petty revenge on Sam Fox. Is Sam Fox qualified to be the ambassador to Belgium? That should be the issue, and if he isn’t, then don’t approve him.

    I don’t have any information on the other people that were appointed, for all I know they’re bigger idiots then Bush. Are all recess appointments by all presidents, except in extreme circumstances, offensive to the ideas of Constitutional, lawful government, or just ones by Bush?

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Frank,

    This interpretation isn’t unique to Wikipedia. The fact that anyone can edit it doesn’t reduce its validity. A statement like this would have been challenged and ammended if there was controversy over it.

    The claims of the Swift Boat Liars were found to be false. See the evaluation by Factcheck.org, as well as the other articles I link to in the main post. Whether Kerry sued them is irrelevant as suits for statements made about a politician in a political campaign are extremely diffiucult to win.

    The fact that Fox is unqualified is a key point here. His lack of qualifications for the positon were demonstrated during the hearings, and this appears to purely be a reward for his political donations. Contributions to the Swift Boat Liars also calls into question his integrity. If 1) Fox showed he was qualified for the positon and 2) Fox expressed some objection to the manner in which his contributions were used he probably would have been confirmed without difficulty.

    Previous recess appointments vary in terms of how objectionable. Bush isn’t the first to do this, but he has taken it to a new level. Whether or not someone else has done something wrong is a pretty weak way to justify what Bush has done.

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