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Appointment a case of raw politics

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webmaster | 01/09/12

Whether you approve of President Obama’s “recess appointment” of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it’s hypocrisy for Republicans to say such appointments aren’t legal or ethical. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, made more than 100 recess appointments.

Among them were:

  • John R. Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after Democrats in the Senate had blocked him.
  • Charles W. Pickering, Sr., to the Federal Court of Appeals after he had been blocked twice by the Senate.
  • William H. Pryor, Jr., to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • William B. Cowen to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Alice S. Fisher to head the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, after the Senate blocked the nomination.
  • William B. Cowen to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Dennis P. Walsh to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Ronald E. Meisburg to general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Peter C. Schaumber to the National Labor Relations Board.

Among these Bush appointees, Bolton was perhaps the most controversial. He was a vocal and well-informed critic of the U.N., and Democrats opposed him because they thought he would embarrass the U.S.

The congresswoman who expressed this concern was Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-san Francisco, who just got through praising Obama for using his executive power to appoint Cordray.

Usually attempts to block presidential appointments are poorly disguised power plays. Perhaps a senator wants to trade approval of a nominee for an okay on an earmark for his or her district. Perhaps one party is trying to gain leverage over another.

In this case, Senate Republicans wanted to block Cordray’s appointment to throw a wrench in the new Financial Protection Bureau, because their Wall Street friends hate it. That’s raw politics — and both parties have practiced it with abandon.


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