What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

Agree? Disagree? Tell me

My Other Blog

Thursday, April 05, 2007
And with apologies to Keith Olbermann - worse and worser

It used to be that the symbol of "arrival" - of being cool as well as famous, was to be invited to host Saturday Night Live. Nowadays that symbol rests elsewhere - in a depository that didn’t exist a few years ago - Comedy Central on cable television - and specifically The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. But there is a difference between "arriving" on SNL and The Daily Show. On SNL, one’s appearance is scripted down to the smallest gesture. On The Daily Show, a guest is interviewed by Jon Stewart - and while Stewart can conduct a very funny interview, he can also be dead serious and ask serious questions - and Stewart is bright and knowledgeable. And therein lies the danger in going on the show. If you are a fool, there is no easier way to reveal your foolishness than letting Stewart help you do it.

Such was the case when John Bolton appeared on the show a couple of weeks ago You remember John Bolton. He was the loud mouthed bully who stood zero chance of winning Senate approval to be our UN Ambassador - so Mr. Bush snuck him in with a recess appointment. Bolton resigned in December of 2006 when Congress adjourned and his recess appointment was up. There was no way that he would ever get Senate approval for a permanent appointment. And that was before he received and accepted an invitation to appear on the Daily Show.

If you saw the show, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t and would like to see it, here’s a link to his appearance on March 20, 2007.

Speaking of the meaning of elections, he said that
"A President has a responsibility to be true to the people who voted for him and to put people in office that are sympathetic to his positions. Otherwise, what’s the point of having elections?"
It’s hardly believable that anyone serving in a high office in the American government would say anything so incredibly stupid, but that’s why I’ve included a link to the video of his appearance. That’s actually what he said. Verbatim!!

And before that, when Stewart was speaking of Lincoln’s example of governance, which was to include cabinet members who disagreed with him - a totally opposite approach to that of George W Bush - Bolton told Stewart that he was "historically incorrect." Stewart let it go but the next night he completed the man’s self destruction in an on camera telephone conversation with Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin about Bolton’s historical understanding of Lincoln - and I’ve included a link to the video of that show also. There may be a few seconds of a commercial before the video begins - but it’s probably less that 10 seconds.It's worth watching just to enjoy Kearns Goodwin cutting Bolton down to size.

That was George W Bush’s big time application of the power to appoint someone to high office while Congress is in recess. A man who doesn’t believe that a president is elected to be the president of all the people - just the ones who voted for him.

And now he’s done it again - only this time in as dishonorable way as one could imagine.

On December 4, 2006, he nominated one Sam Fox to be Ambassador to Belgium. This is a man who donated $50,000 to the disgusting "Swift Boat Veterans" smear group that so viciously attacked John Kerry, impugning his integrity and questioning his military service in Vietnam - a conflict studiously avoided by Mr. Bush. It became clear that Mr. Fox would not win Senate conformation, so the president WITHDREW the nomination on March 28, 2007.

That was eight days ago. Congress recessed on March 30, 2007. The Senate is due back April 10, 2007. Yesterday, April 4, 2007, Mr. Bush made Fox Ambassador to Belgium with a recess appointment. After WITHDRAWING his nomination seven days earlier. There was no nominee pending - but Mr. Bush decided to go ahead and appoint him anyway.

I am reasonably sure that this has never been done before - the withdrawal of a nomination only to reinstate it via a recess appointment in a matter of days while Congress was out of town. What I am certain of is that this president has now revealed himself as someone without character, morality or respect for the laws that he has sworn to uphold. He not only acts as though no law or precedent applies to him and to what he perceives to be his unlimited powers - but in my view he can now be compared to the late Senator Joe McCarthy of whom Attorney Joseph Welch asked at a pivotal moment in the Army/McCarthy hearings more than fifty years ago - "You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir. At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Perhaps in this age of extreme partisanship in American politics - a candidate for the highest office in the land cannot always be expected to disavow attacks on his opponent of the nature of the Swift Boat attacks that were launched against Kerry. But surely, after the election was over, one would have expected that President Bush would never take any action that would indicate that he had approved those attacks - or even worse that he ever believed what they said about Kerry’s wartime service. Yet he nominates a man for an ambassadorship that gave a huge donation to the Swift Boat smear campaign - now claiming of course that he didn’t know what the money would be used for. Not Mr. Fox. He just gives when he’s asked. Fifty grand or more at a time without any idea who’s asking or what the money’s for. I hate to repeat myself - but it calls to mind the words of the Casablanca character that I used yesterday - "I’m shocked, shocked to learn that gambling is going on in here."

This is a dark moment in American politics. We have a president who has pulled an underhanded and probably illegal stunt to get someone appointed to a federal position without Senate approval. Not just a routine recess appointment but a stunt that no president in history has ever pulled. And the person he appoints is someone who funded a lying group of Republican partisans who smeared his opponent in the presidential race - in ways that leading members of his own party condemned at the time.

The thought that we are stuck with this man until 2008 leaves me with an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. And scared at what other outrageous stunts he might pull with - so it seems - no way to stop him.