Today, Bush made another one of his infamous recess appointments, placing a one Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium. Mr. Fox was a major contributor to the ‘Swift Boat’ campaign ads that slandered John Kerry’s military record during the 2004 Presidential race. President Bush had made earlier efforts to place Fox in an ambassadorship, but was quickly shut down by the Democratic congress. While Belgium may not seem at first to be an incredibly key foreign post, Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union, as well as NATO.
Bush has a record of making these ‘recess appointments’, which allow him to bypass Congressional approval when making Presidential appointments. In addition to Sam Fox, controversial UN Representative John Bolton was put in office this way, as well as numerous others:
- An 11th circuit court judgeship: http://www.crosswalk.com/1290806/
- Department of Labor officer: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2006/08/31/bush-appointment-draws-quick-fire/
- An Iran-Contra crony to Assistant Secretary of State: http://www.sptimes.com/News/122301/Worldandnation/Bush_recess_appointme.shtml
- And here’s 20 more: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-07-31-recess_x.htm
It’s all legal– check Article II section 2 of the constitution. Recess appointments were initially created so that the government would not be held idle because Congress was not in session. In ‘ye olde’ days, it could take days or weeks for congressman to gather in Washington. If important work needed to get done immediately, the President had the power to make necessary appointments so the important work could go on. Today, our legislative representatives can get to and from the Capitol in hours. If it were a dire emergency, representatives could congregate immediately and address a situation. Despite this, the rule still still in effect, and President Bush has aggressively taken advantage of this system to subvert democracy and do whatever he wants.
This law needs to be changed. If not removed entirely, it should make any presidential recess appointments valid only for a certain amount of time. I would suggest 30 days, or 14 days past Congress’ first day back from recess. This would be a change from the present rule, which allows appointments to remain in place -unconfirmed by congress– until the end of that congressional session. Of course, changing this rule would require a constitutional amendment- no small task.