Bush Makes Three Recess Appointments

Our imperial president is up to his usual tricks.

President Bush today made three controversial recess appointments, bypassing the need for Senate confirmation.

The president used recess appointments to install Sam Fox, a major Republican donor from Missouri, to be ambassador to Belgium; Andrew G. Biggs of New York to be deputy commissioner of Social Security, and Susan E. Dudley of Virginia to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the office of Management and Budget.

One, Sam Fox, was a financier of the Swift Boat circus against John Kerry. The Administration had withdrawn his nomination in March.


Mr. Fox, a wealthy businessman active in Republican politics, contributed $50,000 to the Swift Boat campaign that attacked Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam War record during the 2004 presidential race. Senator Kerry got a measure of revenge last month as he needled Mr. Fox in a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Bush administration withdrew Mr. Fox’s nomination for the ambassadorship on March 28, after it became clear that Democratic senators were lining up against him to settle a score. Mr. Kerry commented then that Mr. Fox “had every opportunity to disavow the politics of personal destruction and to embrace the truth” and had not done so. “The White House made the right decision to withdraw the nomination,” Mr. Kerry said. “I hope this signals a new day in political discourse.”

Kerry's reaction today:

“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,” he said in a statement.

Biggs was a supporter of the privatization of social security.

Jane at Firedoglake has Chris Dodd's reaction:

"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Sam Fox to the position of ambassador to Belgium when the President formally requested that the Fox nomination be withdrawn from the Senate because it was facing certain defeat in the Foreign Relations Committee last week. 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. This is underhanded and an abuse of Executive authority — sadly this behavior has become the hallmark of this administration."

Update: The White House announcement is here.

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    Direction (none / 0) (#1)
    by eric h on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 07:50:07 PM EST
    I wonder if Bush will even bother sending close calls to Congress anymore?  They already did this with the last big ambassador-type, John Bolton.  This may be a good indication of where they're heading.

    This Fox thing is stupefyingly. . . (none / 0) (#2)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 08:15:18 PM EST
    provocative.  It sets a new standard for vindictive, in-your-face behavior by the Administration.

    The only possible explanation (aside from sheer block-headed contrariness -- which is not be ruled out) is that they're looking for a nuclear confrontation with the Congress.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:36:13 AM EST
    Can you tell me why making a perfectly legal appointment is "bad?" (I mean besides you not liking the guy and hating Bush.)

    You may not like his choice, but he doesn't have to pay one bit of attention to you, nor does his "poll" numbers mean anything.

    We live in a Constitutional Republic, not a Parlimentary Democracy.


    I'll type slowly (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by eric on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 10:13:32 AM EST
    Because this nomination was pulled back by Bush because it was so controversial, that's why.

    Nobody is saying Bush can't do this.  It's just that this is so far over the line of decency that there is likely to be a strong reaction.


    Umm, actually ... (none / 0) (#44)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 06:37:18 PM EST
    ... maybe bush couldn't do this legally, after all bush withdrew the nomination.

    I'm thinking there aren't do-overs in real life.

    But I'd be happy to entertain comments from any bushlickers who can point to whether the Clenis, or any other prez, recessed appointed a nominee after they'd been withdrawn.


    Not Perfectly Legal but Questionable (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 06:56:36 PM EST
    To fight the Fox appointment, Democrats are questioning the Bush administration's plan to have Fox serve in a voluntary capacity -- receiving no pay for his duties as ambassador. This is an important legal technicality, as federal law prohibits "payment of services" for certain recess appointments. However, if the recess appointee in question agrees that he or she will take an unpaid position and not sue the government at a later date for compensation, then the appointment can go forward, at least as the White House sees it. ...

    But here's the rub that makes Democrats view Bush's recess appointment of Fox as a major-league no-no: Federal law prohibits "voluntary service" in cases where the position in question has a fixed rate of pay, as an ambassadorship does. That's how the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the Democratic-controlled Congress, interprets the law.

    think progress  


    Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:40:11 PM EST
    Nothing in your comment seems to relate to my original comment, which concerned the level of confrontation that Bush appears to be seeking with the Congress.

    His decision to make a recess appointment of someone whose nomination was not "not considered" by the Congress, or whose nomination was delayed on procedural grounds or other reasons, but rather was rejected on the merits because it is seen as a personal insult to a Senator is exactly what any rational person would imagine Bush does not need and this point in his increasingly irrelevant tenure.

    It's deliberate insult to Senator Kerry and to the Democrats.  It is in effect saying, I don't care what you think, I'm going to pay my buddy off for services rendered.  I rather suspect a good number of Republicans will look at it askance as well -- they would have to after their pontificating on Democratic recess appointments in the past.  Quite aside from the insult to Democrats because of Fox's partisan and deceitful history it's an insult to the integrity of the Senate's advice and consent role.

    Plus, of course, future Republican Senates can kiss goodbye the idea of stopping any such appointments (or judicial appointments) because after this all bets are off.

    One can only assume that Bush's calculus is that he can't possibly govern through consensus and bipartisan agreement for whatever reason and his only hope is to escape responsibility for the next two years by provoking deadlock with the Congress.


    So... (none / 0) (#3)
    by jarober on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 09:00:56 PM EST
    So Clinton never made recess appointments of people the Senate would never have gone along with?  Wow - just how short is your memory?  This is common practice - always has been, always will be.

    Yes, Clinton. . . (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 09:23:56 PM EST
    once used a recess appointment to make James Hormel Ambassador to Luxembourg.  This infuriated the Republican Senate because Hormel is a homosexual.  The Republican Senate responded by threatening to block all civilian Presidential nominees unless Clinton promised not to do it again.

    I assume you would encourage the now-Democratic Senate to follow a similar course?


    And did Clinton promise?? (none / 0) (#28)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:37:48 AM EST
    Yes. (none / 0) (#47)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:42:23 PM EST
    Bill Lann Lee (none / 0) (#5)
    by jarober on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 09:31:57 PM EST
    I guess you forgot about Bill Lann Lee?  Who, like this guy, never got a formal vote when it became clear that he wouldn't get approved?

    Remember when (none / 0) (#6)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 09:38:23 PM EST
    Remember when Bush said that his nominees deserved a up or down vote?

    When the majority was Republican?

    What changed?

    up and down vote (none / 0) (#7)
    by diogenes on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 10:34:30 PM EST
    If the actually Senate changed its rules to guarantee all nominees an up and down vote, then maybe Bush would be at fault for using recess appointments.

    Par the Course, Bush (none / 0) (#8)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 10:42:03 PM EST
    That's all you can say about this President.  Not a shred of decency in him.  Nominating a Swift Boat backer at all is bad enough, sliding him through as a recess appointment--well, it's simply amazing that there are posters here, defending that.    

    As Larry (none / 0) (#10)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 10:48:34 PM EST
    pointed out, it was [ainfully obvious at the time that it wasn't Hormel's financial contributions that had Rethugs blocking him.  It was, well, that other thing.  

    Rewarding a Swift Boat backer like that was an extremely polarizing move, as that organization represents much of what is wrong with America, and a healthy number of Americans know it.  That Bush just slid the guy through anyway denotes his decency level very well.  

    That's a lie (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Repack Rider on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:03:20 AM EST
    the moveon crowd released those ads comparing Bush to Hitler

    Why would you LIE about MoveOn?

    You know as well as everyone else here that the "Hitler" ad was submitted as part of a contest, appeared briefly with other uploads, and was then removed by MoveOn as soon as it came to their attention.

    It was never "released."  It was "removed."

    Perhaps you can explain why you chose to lie here in the forum.  Do you think that telling lies makes you "better" than MoveOn?


    RePack (none / 0) (#29)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 08:38:39 AM EST
    Uh, wasn't the contest sponsored by moveone??

    If it was posted on their website, I would say they were involved in it.


    Be fair, Jim (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Peaches on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:18:01 AM EST
    If what happend was as Repack said, it appeared briefly on their website and when it appeared on their website, it was promptly removed, then they should not be held responsible. In fact they should be commended for removing it by those who are offended by the ad.

    Noone would hold Jeralyn responsible for the things either you or I say on this website and if we are offensive, she will remove our comments. Moveon is no different in this case.


    Aw okay (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:01:11 PM EST
    But just for you and no one else...

    Poor Bush (none / 0) (#12)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:14:17 PM EST
    I see your point, he really has had to scratch and claw to assert any presidential authority whatever. It's all been one uphill battle for George W. Bush from Day One, I haven't the slightest idea how he ever made it through.  Like how the Democrats "trampled" his authority when they all jumped onto the Patriuot Act.  How they made him sweat it out when they signed onto the Iraq Adventure en masse.  Etc.  

    Sheesh, Lordy T.  I know it's the Internet but at least pretend to be interested in having real dialogue.


    conveniently ... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 10:52:09 AM EST
    ... repeating wrongwing talking points and ignoring the fact there is a republican delegation meeting with syria right now and their visit was facilitated by the WH and state dept.

    harry reid is doing the will of te American people beccause bush refuses to do anything except send an increasingly strained military into the middle of a civil war.

    and the schumer talking point is pure bs, keep slinging the strawmen and drinking the kool aid.


    it's called an election ... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 01:17:44 PM EST
    ... 70% of Americans want us out.

    when he decides to pass a bill that the White House has already decided to veto
    fine, let bush veto a bill and therefore not fund the troops.

    he's already send poorly trained and under equipped troops back into that buzzsaw.

    BTW, rethugs were blatantly for congress doing and end run around the president before they were against it. All pelosi et al want to do is fct finding, denny hastert was pushing for treason.


    Its a hard lesson, but (none / 0) (#38)
    by Peaches on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 02:49:18 PM EST
    you might as well stop claiming it then.

    Go on with what? (none / 0) (#14)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:30:20 PM EST
    Strawmen? Red herrings?

    First of all you spoke of six years, during all of which the Rethugs had control of all branches of government and the Dem minority rolled over like good dogs at every opportunity except an occasional swipe at a particularly fascistic judge.  Speaking of judges, did you know that the percentage of Bush's confirmations is infinitely higher than Clinton's ever was?  

    Anyway it's only in the seventh year that the Dems have had Congress, and that only by a razor thread.  The Syria thing you guys cry about is so silly.  Just because Bush doesn't want the delegation to go doesn't mean they don't have the right to.  

    But what does any of this have to do with taking a demonstrable liar, and a demonizer, and appointing him to an ambassadorship during a recess appointment?  That you defend this is sad.  It shows you'd defend anything Bush did just because it was Bush doing it.


    Correction (none / 0) (#15)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:34:41 PM EST
    Since Bush didn't take orifice until 2001, it was only five years of total Rethug control before in this the sixth year the Dems got their razor edge in Congress.  Still, your claim that Bush has had to struggle during his Presidency would make even  a goodly number of die hard partisan Rethugs blush, I would suspect.

    Clinton (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:59:06 PM EST
    appointed 139 demonstrable liars and demonizers during recess? Keep invoking Clinton, it's the ole standby you know, and besides, a good way to run from facing the fact that a lair and demonizer just got a US ambassadorship and that this says a lot about what kind of man Bush is (it has nothing to do with what Kerry "wants" it has to do with the fact that there's a demonstrable liar and demonizer getting a recess appointment)

    As for your quibble with the "total control" versus "razor's edge" binary, well it's that way because of who's in the White House.  Controlling the White House, a thin margin majority for your Party in Congress is all you really need.  Yeah, more would be nice, but it's enough.

    The Dems still have to play defense because the GOP has the White House.  Overriding a veto aint gonna happen.  And then there's an entire block of Demo votes in the House that are significantly sympathetic to much of Buish's agenda.   But you knew all that.  Don't confuse yourself with the facts, Lordy-T, with your mind all made up and all.

    Stay alert, and stay with Fox.


    Maybe... (none / 0) (#16)
    by jarober on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:43:08 PM EST
    Maybe if you limited yourself to policy disagreements, and stopped calling the opposition "Rethugs", we might get somewhere.  Explain to me again how you expect to convince those of us who disagree with you when you insist on ad homeneim attack?

    Okay jarober, (none / 0) (#18)
    by glanton on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 11:53:22 PM EST
    guilty as charged, not a way to persuade people who continue to support this president after everything that has happened, but are nonetheless willing to be persuaded. There are still a few around, I suppose.  We'll see if any Republican supporters will be willing to go on this thread and call out the appointment for what it is.  

    You know, something new from your end, too.  Instead of the same tired schtick of desperately (and unsuccesfully) trying to find Clinton analogues.


    Slandering a patriot (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Repack Rider on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:11:57 AM EST
    How does donating to a partisan political organization (which plenty of people on both sides did) automatically disqualify someone for an ambassadorship when it has nothing to do with the job duties?

    There is partisan, and there is slander.

    Kerry is a highly decorated combat veteran.  Anyone questioning his courage, his patriotism, or suggesting that his commendations were falsified is a liar, does not "support the troops," and has no business representing the United States.

    Why should anyone who obviously hates the United States be permitted to represent us?


    Ambassadorship in Brussels (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Ambiorix on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:11:22 AM EST
    is very important, not because of the importance of Belgium, but because of the political presence in Brussels, of the European institutions (the EU has no ambassadorships itself) and the militarily presence in Brussels of NATO and SHAPE.

    Answers (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by glanton on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:33:25 AM EST
    1)It's not that they're partisan, it's that they're proven liars and demonizers.   The ambassadorship, like many ambassadorships, is a plum reward.  So lying and demonizing is being rewarded.

    You know, lying?  Sort of like what Repack has just caught you doing......

    2)This goes back to a earlier comment I made to you, the Democratic Party is hardly monolithic.  There are insane divisions, and there's a very healthy number in both chambers that Bush can count on for votes on a number of issues.

    But #2 is besides the point anyway.  Christ, members of both Partties overwhelmingly voted for the Iraq Adventure Resolution, and for the Patriot Act, and for Bush's judges.  

    When something is wrong, it's wrong.    


    Sore Loser (none / 0) (#26)
    by Fritz on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:25:44 AM EST
    Fox is more than qualified.  Using vendettas for campaign contributions is wrong.  It shows a lack of temperament on Kerry's part.  We have celebrated 109 elections in this country, it is disappointing that Democrats wish to use appointees as a means of protest.  Would anyone be surprised if Terry McAuliffe were offered an ambassadorship by the next Democratic President?  Pick and choose battles wisely, this wasn't worth it.

    How is he qualified? (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Sailor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 02:56:59 PM EST
    Fox was born in Desloge, Missouri to Jewish and Ukrainian-American immigrant Michel Fuks (later Max Fox), and Fanny Gold. Fox went to Washington University in St. Louis were he joined Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. He graduated with a B.A. in business in 1951. He married Marilyn Widman Fox and has five children.
    Fox founded Harbour Group Industries, a multi-billion dollar investment firm.[1][2]
    A major donor to the Republican Party, Fox donated almost $50,000 to Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, a group opposed to John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Fox was also a Bush Pioneer in 2000 and a "Ranger" in 2004, categories for donors who recruit others to donate.
    Fox is the chairman of the Republican Jewish Committee.[1] Fox has also been involved in numerous philanthropic events, he has been chairman of the Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts and a member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University since 1989. He also endowed the Sam Fox School of Design and the Visual Arts at Washington University, which includes the School of Art and the School of Architecture.

    If you look at other ambassadors, you'll notice almost all of them have actual experience.


    xan at (none / 0) (#41)
    by desertswine on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 04:49:27 PM EST
    Corrente says:

    I don't really give a crap about the ambassador to Belgium. They are a gracious and intelligent people, and will endure 19 months of this twit with their accustomed aplomb, and excellent chocolates. Bush expending a recess appointment to push through the poop-chute a man whose only qualification is financing the smearing of a man who faithfully served his country in wartime serves only to remind everybody of what Bush didn't do.

    qualifications (none / 0) (#42)
    by diogenes on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 04:54:15 PM EST
    It's fine to oppose Fox on his qualifications, although many ambassadors in the past have been rich donors.  Why then was the initial firestorm over Swift Boat instead?

    Unbelievable (none / 0) (#43)
    by Slado on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 05:04:38 PM EST
    How can you complain about this when the democratic Senators enforced a 60vote fillabuster margin for appointments while they were in the minority?

    After 2004 Bush had the political capital to nominate who he wanted and the Democrats fought tooth and nail (within the rules mind you) to deny him what he would have gotten just 30years ago.

    Now Bush is reacting to the changing playing feild and for partisan to claim a difference is simply dishonest and petty.

    Both sides are acting inappropriately and stretching the rules because the other side keeps breaking the unwritten rules in an arms race of partisanship.

    But hey it's no fun to talk about the obvious it's more fun to claim the high ground and act like a hypocrite.

    Kettle your black!