Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bush to Senate (and Reid): Screw you!

Bush's recess appointment of Republican money guy and Swift Boat Veterans fund raiser Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium was a particularly egregious abuse of his constitutional authority. The Foreign Relations Committee was about to vote the appointment down when the White House pulled it back -- only to appoint Fox as soon as Congress recessed for the Easter break. In other words, it wasn't really pulled back. It was a tactical retreat so that Bush could mount a stealth attack on his opponent, the Senate, from a different direction.

In the long sweep of history, it isn't going to make much of a difference who our ambassador to Belgium is. But that's exactly what makes Bush's use of the recess appointment power so contemptuous and spiteful. He can't argue that there was some important goal being served by this appointment that was being blocked by an obstreperous Congress. The somewhat arcane recess appointment power survives because it's another one of those "check and balances" that gives the President the ability to make legitimate appointments until the end of the congressional session when they're hopelessly stalled in the Senate. Sometimes it's used legitimately, to achieve an important public purpose. But when used the way Bush just did, it makes a mockery of democracy.

Of course, not everyone sees it that way.
Despite the Democrats' fierce objections to Fox and two other appointees, conservatives lauded Bush's exercise of his constitutional prerogative. Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, who had urged Bush to recess-appoint Fox, said yesterday: "It's good; it shows he's fighting back. He had a 'kick me' sign on his back, and it shows he's taken the sign off."
If you say so, Bill.

More likely, this was Bush's answer to Henry Reid's recent reminder that "He is president of the United States, not king of the United States."

"Try and stop me," Bush seems to be Bush's taunting response. That's exactly what Congress needs to do.

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