Monday, August 01, 2005

The Difference Between Can and Shouldn't

Somehow, I’m not shocked that the president couldn’t wait for recess to let an accused bully run free. It’s perfectly legal to make a recess appointment. It also would be perfectly legal to pardon Eric Rudolph. President Clinton used recess appointments twice with Bill Lan Lee as assistant attorney general for civil rights. At the time, Lee's was the highest yet nomination for an Asian American in the executive branch. Ironically, the Republican leadership didn’t like Lee because he had openly supported affirmative action. While it’s clearly okay to get into the champagne unit of the Texas Air National Guard based on who your father is, it’s not okay to advocate preferential treatment based on your parents not having connections or being some other race. Orrin Hatch and John Ashcroft made it clear at the time that they didn’t question Lee’s integrity, they opposed him for his views. If it’s a Democrat doing the appointing, apparently a nominees positions on the issues are fair game.
Clinton also used the recess appointment for James Hormel for the all important post of Ambassador to Luxembourg. Jesse Helms held up the nomination based solely on Hormel’s sexual orientation which Helms considered “sickening”. Another irony was that Hormel’s domestic partner was Asian. When Clinton used his power to make a recess appointment, I considered it a good thing both times.

fwiw, President Bush has appointed two Asian Americans to his cabinet, Norm Mineta, Secretary of Transportation who happens to be a Democrat and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor. Much has been made of the Republican party’s courting of Hispanic voters by playing on conservative themes. Less has been said about the party’s attempts to appeal to Asian voters through non-race conscious appointments. Even less seems to have been said about the fact that these appointments haven’t swayed much of the Asian vote, if anything it apparently went 76-24 democratic in the 2004 election.

I won’t criticize President Bush for using his recess appointment power. It really comes down to the individual he’s using it for, John Bolton, and the timing. Bolton is part of that strange tradition of Project for a New American Century (PNAC) chicken hawks who advocate war in the Middle East, but ducked combat when they were young men. When at Yale, Bolton supported the war in Vietnam, but joined the National Guard because according to his 25th Yale reunion book “he didn’t want to die in some rice paddy at the end of a war that was already lost”. Apparently, patriotism, only extends to fighting for a just cause just as long as you think it’s a winning to Yale Daily News see bottom of article

Ironically, Bolton and Bill Lan Lee were at Yale at the same time. Bolton was class of 70 and Lee 71.

As an undersecretary of state for arms control, it also appears that Bolton played some role in helping to mount the evidence that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction including the Niger yellowcake evidence. However, you look at it. Given what we know via the Downing Street memo, the administration’s own admissions, etc. Bolton played a key role in what amounts to a significant misrepresentation or completely incompetent misjudgment. Bolton likely played some role in Colin Powell’s address to the United Nations which ultimately got the UN tied into the Iraq war under false pretenses. I have to question why the President has such confidence in John Bolton as our representative in the UN.

I don’t know about the mass of evidence that John Bolton is a bad boss, undiplomatic, or served as someone's spy in the State department. I suppose the President can disagree about that. The fact that can’t be disagreed about came out on July 28, 2005, or three days before the recess appointment. Bolton misinformed Congress by stating that he had not been questioned in any investigation. In fact, he had been interviewed by the State Department inspector general who was looking into the pre-war false claims about WMD in Iraq. Bolton may have lied about, I mean "overlooked", something that was central to his job as undersecretary for arms control. Bolton’s defense seems to be that he simply forgot, which apparently graduates of Yale Law School do quite frequenly. With Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton, and John Bolton all claiming not to remember things, I’m thinking Yale Law School’s criminal law class must have had some fascinating Socratic discussions about perjury. At this point, it’s not just a disagreement about the guy’s views or sexual lifestyle, real questions about integrity have come up. When Nixon tried to fire Archibald Cox, the public turned on the president not because of the ideology, but because it raised the issue of the president's own integrity. Eventually, President Nixon did find someone to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Bork. The firing stuck, but the President didn't. Ronald Reagan then nominated Bork for the Supreme Court.

My bottom line, there’s evidence that your nominee may have perjured himself comes out on July 28, 2005, and you give him a recess appointment three days later? I suppose it’s not like firing your special prosecutor, but sometimes you can do things that are within your power legally but exceed your actual grasp politically. We’ll find out once school gets back in session.


At 8/02/2005 04:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh lordy lordy, chancelucky, I insist you go right out & rent the Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, probably the original & still a shivery surreal movie.

But it ain't got nothing on the boschian sursureal movie we're wandering around in daily. Ye owls, who are these people?

It seems like I've got to say now Ich bin ein gay, black, Asian, Hispanic, Affirmative Action, pagan, no death penalty, French pacifist just to cover the bases of the despised Types that don't go to their country clubs with whom I am willing to share identity so I am guaranteed to not get swooped up in The Rapture by Mistake..

At 8/05/2005 09:28:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I don't know that the Lan Lee thing was anti-Asian per se. Affirmative action has been a controversial topic among Asian Americans for a couple reasons. At least in California there are a very large number of very high achieving Asian students who would be helped by so called "objective" admissions standards. The James Hormel episode was, however, purely about his sexual preference.
My point was that in both cases, no issues of integrity were raised and the opposition from the right was all about "views" rather than qualifications.
In the last day, there've been some bizarre stirrings from the right because John Roberts helped with a gay rights case a few years ago. There are even blogs that now want to suggest that John Roberts might be gay since he married late and his children are adopted. The implication is that should this strange speculation be true, he couldn't be truly "conservative" enough for the religious right.
I'm not sure how that explains the number of right wing types who don't stay married or who don't have biological kids. Ken Mehlman, Jeff Gannon, Rush, Ann Coulter, Clarence Thomas....
In any case, John Bolton just seems like a bad recess appt. because there are so many open questions about the guy that have nothing to do with his ideology, race, or sexual orientation.


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