Yesterday, President Bush made three significant recess appointments, installing officials without Senate confirmation during the congressional recess.
The abuse of the recess appointment perhaps isn’t Bush’s most egregious attack on our Founders’ carefully crafted system of checks and balances, since others before him have exploited this constitutional loophole.
But the implicit reasons behind each appointment are quite egregious, and each in their own way.
The one that’s gotten the most attention is Sam Fox, our new Ambassador to Belgium.
It’s typical, if still highly inappropriate, for cronies of the President to get cushy Ambassador gigs.
But Sam Fox wasn’t just a big donor of Bush. He gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat liars that smeared John Kerry’s war record.
Of course, the Bush campaign always insisted it had nothing to do with the smear merchants, even though the group had ties to Karl Rove.
But to go the extra mile after being stiff-armed by the Senate, to appoint a major backer of filthy politics to a major post, shows how politics are played in the conservative movement.
Get dirty now, get rewarded later. No consequences for your actions. No disincentive to smear again.
The second is Andrew Biggs, to become the #2 man at the Social Security Administration.
Biggs is not only committed to the dismantling of Social Security via privatization. As associate commissioner of SSA, he was behind an effort to use the agency to pump out misinformation and undermine support for the program.
He is one of the many examples of how the White House is trying to cripple the civil service, and prevent our government from providing us with objective, factual information.
Finally, we have Susan Dudley becoming administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, also known as the “regulatory czar” because it reviews regulations throughout the government.
OMB Watch explains her significance:
“Dudley’s record is one of anti-regulatory extremism,” said Rick Melberth, Director of Regulatory Policy at OMB Watch. “She has opposed some of our nation’s most basic environmental, workplace safety and public health protections.”
Dudley has falsely proclaimed ground-level ozone to be beneficial, opposed ergonomic standards to protect workers from repetitive stress disorders, and even suggested that airbags should never have been mandated in automobiles.
This is also a big part of the conservative game plan to cripple the civil service.
When civil servants try to implement laws passed by our democratically-elected Congress, like say the Clean Air Act, folks like Dudley are installed to bring the hammer down, prevent the law’s implementation, and put the special interest ahead of the public interest.
The abuse of the recess appointment weakens our system of checks and balances. But the specific people appointed threaten to do even greater harm.