Via the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — President Bush named Republican fundraiser Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium on Wednesday, using a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress where Democrats had derailed Fox’s nomination.
Democrats had denounced Fox for his 2004 donation to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group’s TV ads, which claimed that Sen. John Kerry exaggerated his military record in Vietnam, were viewed as a major factor in the Massachusetts Democrat losing the election.
Recognizing Fox did not have the votes to obtain Senate confirmation, Bush withdrew the nomination last month. On Wednesday, with Congress out of town for a spring break, the president used his power to make recess appointments to put Fox in the job without Senate confirmation.
This means Fox can remain ambassador until the end of the next session of Congress, effectively through the end of the Bush presidency.
Senator John “F” Kerry had this to say in response:
“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. This nomination was withdrawn because the Administration realized it would lose in the Foreign Relations Committee,” Kerry said.
“Unfortunately, when this White House can’t win the game, they just change the rules, and America loses. Our country would be stronger if this Administration spent more time getting body armor for our soldiers in Iraq than it did helping their powerful friends,” he added.
“Change the rules”? What rules were changed?
Senator Chris Dodd also flipped out over the appointment (emphasis added):
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Sam Fox to the position of ambassador to Belgium when the President formally requested that the Fox nomination be withdrawn from the Senate because it was facing certain defeat in the Foreign Relations Committee last week.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 Government Accountability Office (GAO) 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.”
What the HELL? The President has the right to make a recess appointments when the Senate has recessed:
Under the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2), the President and the Senate share the power to make appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. Generally, the President nominates individuals to these positions, and the Senate must confirm them before he can appoint them to office. The Constitution also provides an exception to this process. When the Senate is in recess, the President may make a temporary appointment, called a recess appointment, to any such position without Senate approval (Article II, Section 2, Clause 3).
So, like, what was that “rule change” and “abuse of presidential authority” again, Senators Kerry and Dodd? Oh right, there wasn’t one. This is just one more in a long list of things you and other clueless, undermining Democrats have falsely accused the President of doing to make it look like what he’s done is a criminal offense when it’s actually something he has the right to do PER the US Constitution. Shame on you both. Again.
There’s a reason, of course, that Kerry and Co. don’t like Fox: because he contributed to the Swift Boat Vets. Yes, the Democrats who said they’d vote against him if his name came up for a vote cited that as the reason why they considered him unfit for the ambassadorship.
Bush just one-upped ’em. Good for him.
Update II: The NYT isn’t happy about it, but here’s their story on the appointment, and they note two other receess appointments as well.