Welcome WILLisms.com readers. Will Franklin has graciously included this post in his Carnival Of Classiness. I hope it lives up to the billing. Feel free to look around, but don't break anything, okay?
The 'Big Story' today is the recess appointment of John Bolton as the UN Ambassador. President Bush has majority support for Bolton in committee, and also in the Senate. What he doesn't have is supermajority support, the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster by Democratic senators. Pres. Bush decided that Bolton is his guy, and rather than allow his guy to be derailed by a minority of Senators he's gone ahead with a recess appointment. Now, recess appointments are a tradition going back to the first president, George Washington, who filled a number of positions in this fashion, and Thomas Jefferson who used it to fill 10 federal judgeships.
Back in 1997 then-President Bill Clinton appointed "civil rights" attorney Bill Lann Lee as acting head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, under AG Janet Reno. Lee was extremely controversial, in that he strongly favored and litigated in favor of quotas and racially-based remedies, and saw discrimination in every nook and cranny of the nation. Lee was named acting director in December, 1997 in a Clinton recess appointment, infuriating Republicans. Those opposed were painted as opposing civil rights.
What's left out is that Lee never had majority support. A vote on him was blocked by Democrats to avoid rejection.
Lee's nomination stalled in the Senate last month when Republicans objected to his views on affirmative action. In a parliamentary move, Democrats blocked a vote Nov. 13 rather than see Lee rejected in committee. But Clinton has the power to make an interim appointment when Congress is out of session.
Back then there were comments about Lee, and about future dealings between the legislative and executive branches, similar to those you read and hear about John Bolton and George Bush.
They have warned the White House of seriously damaged relations if the president appoints Lee to the job while the Senate is in its year-end recess.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, who led the opposition to Lee, has said a recess appointment would be "a serious mistake."...
Hatch ... says he thinks Lee would try to enforce preferences and undermine the intent of federal law.
For some interesting reading on Lee's record, you could view this Clint Bolick article in the Federalist Society website, this anti-preferences webpage about Lee, or this National Review article by Jim Boulet from June, 2003.
It should be noted that Presidents have made many recess appointments. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, writing at Dick Gregory Global Watch, after Bush 43 had placed Gerald Reynolds as assistant secretary of education for civil rights in a previous recess appointment, noted that Carter made 68, Reagan 243, Bush 41 77 and Clinton
56 140. But Hutchinson, who strongly doubted the wisdom and worth of Reynolds in that position, also wrote:
At a February 26 hearing, Ted Kennedy openly questioned his credentials to head the civil rights office and called his appointment a disaster for civil rights enforcement. But Bush’s deft move has rendered Kennedy’s gripe a mute point. Reynolds is now in office and civil rights and disability rights advocates must keep a hawk-like vigilance over Reynolds actions to insure that he isn’t the total disaster for civil rights that Kennedy fears he’ll be. Meanwhile, Bush has served notice that he will do what other presidents have done and use recess appointments to get whom he wants in office, regardless of whether it angers civil rights groups and Democrats.
"What other Presidents have done." Like Bill Clinton. So when AP White House correspondent Terrence Hunt, reporting the reaction of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, writes
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Bolton was a "seriously flawed and weakened candidate." He charged that Bush "chose to stonewall the Senate" by using a recess appointment.
just nod your head. It's what the losing side always says. Oh, and by the way, Clinton didn't just name Lee as a recess appointment in 1997. He did it a second time in 2000.
Bolton's opponents are saying he is "damaged."
If that's true, it's because they have for months been working assiduously to damage him.
They say he will be less effective because he doesn't have Senate approval.
If that's true, it's because a few Senators prevented their colleagues from having an opportunity to vote for (or against) him.
They say without Senate approval, Bolton won't represent the Congress.
He will, however, represent the President of the United States.
The fact that he may not represent Chris Dodd should not be terribly debilitating.
8/1/05 1545: More links at Wizbang from Kevin Aylward.
The bottom line: it is NOT an illegal move.
No, it's not. Nor is it an "abuse of power."
The other bottom line: Bolton doesn't go to the United Nations as someone who enjoys widespread support in the Senate. Nor in opinion polls. Nor, if you believe the testimony, among many people who worked with him.
Well, he actually enjoys support of a majority of Senators. You should have pointed that out. Opinion polls don't matter, in that there's been so much sound and fury signifying nothing expended against him that, of course, the opinion polls are divided. And it would be great if all his people like him, but if he's demanding he will make some enemies. There are people I work with who don't like me. Why? Their job performance has lacked, and I've pointed it out.
So we assume in talking about this "handful of Senators" Mr. Bush also means members of his OWN party. Bolton's foes didn't just include Democrats.
Well, no, but it was over 90% Democrats. He then links the TimesOnline (UK) and US Editor Gerard Baker, who gets it wrong.
"Then they were going to put it to a floor vote, but they didn't have enough votes to put off a filibuster by the Democrats, which would have blocked the nomination.
Not exactly. They attempted to pass cloture to put the nomination to a floor vote, and the motion for cloture failed to pass despite more than 50% support.
"There's no doubt that the recess appointment has left Bolton in a difficult situation. He doesn't have the full backing of the Senate, so there will be a cloud over his nomination and over everything he does."
So if the Democrats had not prevented cloture and Bolton had been confirmed by, say, 54-46, would that have indicated that he had "the full backing of the Senate?"