Obama makes six recess appointments

posted at 1:30 pm on December 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In one of the oddest moves by Barack Obama in his presidency, the White House announced six recess appointments late yesterday, including James Cole for the #2 position at the Department of Justice.  Robert Ford also will be the new ambassador to Syria, ending the controversy over his nomination.  All six will have the opportunity to hold their jobs for another year, when the next recess is expected at the Christmas holiday:

Because he was appointed while the Senate is in recess, Robert Ford, a career diplomat, will not need Senate confirmation. But he can serve only until the end of the next session of Congress, which will likely be in December 2011.

Ford’s nomination was held up by a group of GOP senators who complained that the administration had failed to articulate a viable policy toward the Syrian government, which has been charged with supporting Hezbollah militants and other anti-Israel groups. …

Ford was one of six long-stalled nominees Obama appointed Wednesday, including ambassadors to Turkey, the Czech Republic and Azerbaijan. The president also appointed James M. Cole as deputy attorney general.

Cole’s nomination had stalled in the Senate because of Republican concerns about his comments about terrorism and his work as an independent contractor for the insurance giant AIG.

Why so odd?  Obama enjoyed a Senate majority larger than any President since Jimmy Carter, with an 18-seat advantage for most of the last two years, and for at least a few months, a filibuster-proof 20-seat majority.   Harry Reid could have pushed hard to get confirmation hearings for these nominees, or the Obama administration could have helped by nominating people with less baggage.  Either way, a President who has to make recess appointments while holding an 18-seat majority is either an incompetent or selecting radical nominees so far out of the mainstream as to lose members of his own party — or perhaps both.

Jennifer Rubin says this is the end of Obama’s supposed recommitment to bipartisanship (via Instapundit):

What, if anything, can be done by the imperious recess appointments of such controversial nominees? Todd Gaziano of the Heritage Foundation emails me, “The real threat (which Robert C. Byrd famously did once) is for the entire GOP caucus” to refuse to consent to any further nominees unless Obama agrees to refrain from issuing more recess appointments. Gaziano says that Republicans “could refuse to confirm another judge, diplomat, etc. until they extract their promise.” There is also the power of oversight (to grill appointees on how they intend to perform their jobs) and of the bully pulpit (to publicize the records of these nominees). But the lesson for the GOP here may be to refrain from offering too many open hands to an administration only too eager to slap them and demonstrate disdain for a co-equal branch of government.

Interestingly, these recess appointments come on the heels of an agreement between Reid and Mitch McConnell to confirm 19 judicial appointments by Obama in exchange for deep-sixing four of the most controversial, including Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  As Rubin surmises, Obama can probably expect a lot less cooperation in the future on his nominations, and plenty of demands for testimony from Cole, Ford, and the other four recess appointments, especially in the Republican-controlled House.

The Boss Emeritus reminds us of the reason Cole was never confirmed:

On September 9, 2002 – the eve of the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – Cole wrote in an op-ed in Legal Times:

“[T]he attorney general is not a member of the military fighting a war — he is a prosecutor fighting crime. For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center. The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.

Our country has faced many forms of devastating crime, including the scourge of the drug trade, the reign of organized crime, and countless acts of rape, child abuse, and murder. The acts of Sept. 11 were horrible, but so are these other things.”

Kind of like Ahmed “Foopie” Ghailani, right?  Er ….


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Most Transparent Admi….never mind.

portlandon on December 30, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Oops:

On the recess appointment of Bolton as US Ambassador to the UN

“To some degree, he’s damaged goods,” said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I think that means we’ll have less credibility and, ironically, be less equipped to reform the United Nations in the way that it needs to be reformed.”

Submitted as an OOTD candidate.

BobMbx on December 30, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Nothing odd about it, Ed — Obama didn’t want his buds in the Senate who were facing elections in 2010 to be on record as supporters of people like Cole. Nor does he want those who will be up in 2012 to make a tough vote. Do you suppose Claire McCaskill wants to have that discussion? Or Tester? Or even Amy Klobuchar?

Mr. D on December 30, 2010 at 1:34 PM

No Trust in his fellow socialists

Kini on December 30, 2010 at 1:35 PM

I’m with Ed.
Zero had super majorities in both the House and Senate–you’d think he could get his sorry highly qualified nominees confirmed.

Jenfidel on December 30, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Either way, a President who has to make recess appointments while holding an 18-seat majority is either an incompetent or selecting radical nominees so far out of the mainstream as to lose members of his own party — or perhaps both.

Perhaps?!!!

I would have to say we have a major affirmative to both…with special emphasis on that part related to him being incompetent!

pilamaye on December 30, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Congress matters…not.

Extrafishy on December 30, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Jennifer Rubin says this is the end of Obama’s supposed recommitment to bipartisanship

But not GOP illusions over it!

rrpjr on December 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Submitted as an OOTD candidate.

BobMbx on December 30, 2010 at 1:34 PM

+1000

Making Obama choke on his own hypocrisy is awesomely good.

portlandon on December 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Robert Ford also will be the new ambassador to Syria, ending the controversy over his nomination.

Wanna save money? Don’t have an ambassador to Syria. Totally unnecessary and a waste of money.

MeatHeadinCA on December 30, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Wannabe fascist dictator acting like a fascist dictator.

Rebar on December 30, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Congress? Senate? Democrats? Dictator Obama don’t need no stinkin Congress, Senate, or Democrats to confirm nothin. He’s da dictator dangit!!!

capejasmine on December 30, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Congress matters…not.

Extrafishy on December 30, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Didn’t some media guy predict that Congress would find itself less and less relevant in the near future?

hawksruleva on December 30, 2010 at 1:44 PM

these recess appointments come on the heels of an agreement between Reid and Mitch McConnell

Non compete agreement?

antisocial on December 30, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Excellent bobmbx!

cmsinaz on December 30, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Wanna save money? Don’t have an ambassador to Syria. Totally unnecessary and a waste of money.

MeatHeadinCA on December 30, 2010 at 1:43 PM

But who would deliver the strongly worded letters?

BobMbx on December 30, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Ignorance, hypocrisy and impertinence are all indignant.

Schadenfreude on December 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM

The gop better not have an open hand to dear leader….epic fail on their part if should occur

cmsinaz on December 30, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Happy to hear Liu is no longer in the mix

cmsinaz on December 30, 2010 at 1:58 PM

I thought the 111th Congress was over and the 112th Congress has yet to begin.

Isn’t that different than “being in recess”?

mad saint jack on December 30, 2010 at 1:59 PM

I don’t care what crr6 says, Obama’s best subject was always recess not the law.

darwin-t on December 30, 2010 at 2:05 PM

“I won,” he explained.

tom on December 30, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Interestingly, these recess appointments come on the heels of an agreement between Reid and Mitch McConnell

Can someone please explain why we still have the incompetent McConnell as the GOP Senate leader? Striking agreements that are not worth the paper they are signed on and being outplayed in every department of politics should not be the criteria for GOP leadership in these troubled times.

TheRightMan on December 30, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Can someone please explain why we still have the incompetent McConnell as the GOP Senate leader? Striking agreements that are not worth the paper they are signed on and being outplayed in every department of politics should not be the criteria for GOP leadership in these troubled times.

TheRightMan on December 30, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Someone hasn’t been paying attention in class.

The GOProgressives will betray the US for their own power. There isn’t a dimes difference between the the two parties. Tom Coburn still calls the man who dismantling this once great nation his “good friend”.

darwin-t on December 30, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Don’t Democrats control the Senate?

For now, yes. But why would their Lord and Master make them work during a holiday week, when he can get the job done with just the stroke of a pen?

UltimateBob on December 30, 2010 at 2:26 PM

Jennifer Rubin says this is the end of Obama’s supposed recommitment to bipartisanship

In Obama’s dictionary, bipartisanship is when the Republicans go along with his plans. But the Dems didn’t even agree with him, so screw that!

MrX on December 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM

In Obama’s dictionary, bipartisanship is when the Republicans go along with his plans. But the Dems didn’t even agree with him, so screw that!

MrX on December 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Obviously, the president’s going to need a refresher course in this triangulation strategerie stuff — maybe a weekend in Chicago with Rahm after he returns from Hawaii — since it’s probably not going to work out too hot for him if he decides to govern to the left of the Democratic-controlled Senate.

jon1979 on December 30, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Defund, defund, defund! Turn out the lights on any Federal building that any one of these Obama cronies walk into. Cut off their limo service, slash their travel budget, give them no assistants or aides, eliminate their salaries — if the job is worth doing, it’s worth having a qualified person to do it; if the job is so worthless that any Obamafied nut can qualify, it isn’t worth funding.

cthulhu on December 30, 2010 at 2:47 PM

cthulhu at 2:47
Agreed. I fear the House Republican’s will not use this tool as much as they could.

GaltBlvnAtty on December 30, 2010 at 3:21 PM

Obama never had any interest in bipartisanship and everyone knows it. Even talking about it like it was ever real is playing along with a lie.

The man can barely cooperate with his own party, and only does so when they agree with him.

Merovign on December 30, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Gutless…

Khun Joe on December 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

When Chimpy Bush did this he was called EVIL.

Just sayin’

Del Dolemonte on December 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Promises, promises. Remember guys, we’re the enemy.

Kissmygrits on December 30, 2010 at 4:31 PM

For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center. The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.

So the Pentagon was never hit?

jims on December 30, 2010 at 4:47 PM

GOP controlled congress can refuse to fund ford’s trip to Syria, his salary, etc.

No big whoop.

Akzed on December 30, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Question: Did Bush ever behave like this?

Key West Reader on December 30, 2010 at 5:31 PM

these recess appointments come on the heels of an agreement between Reid and Mitch McConnell

The Tea Party wins big and Mitch is actin like Reids Bitc! and negotiating the terms of the GOP surrender.

Replace these inside the beltway game players with some women who have more balls than the elitist GOProgressives ( I like that term) almost as good as RINOs!

dhunter on December 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM

When your party filibusters anything and everything, you’re not allowed to bitch about recess appointments.

Tom_Shipley on December 30, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Are we missing something

But he can serve only until the end of the next session of Congress, which will likely be in December 2011.

Does the current section of Congress not end in January 3, 2011 when Speaker Boehner takes the gavel.
Any appointment done when the 111th congress is in session ends when the 112th is sworn in and the 112th is not sworn in yet.

When is the cut off, O could he find the most radical person and appoint them one minutes before that time and then they are in until when.

tjexcite on December 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM

When your party filibusters anything and everything, you’re not allowed to bitch about recess appointments.

Tom_Shipley on December 30, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Uhh……..hey timmy…

The democrats filabustered judicial nominations on top of about everything else during Bush’s Presidency and it didn’t stop you and your liberal friends from whining and crying about “the evil dictator Bush” when he moved on recess appointments.

democrats cried about it being an “abuse of power” by the President and demanded that the checks and balances of Congress should be upheld.

Practice what you preach or STFU.

Baxter Greene on December 30, 2010 at 8:45 PM

I thought recess appointments were bad and unconstitutional and an abuse of power; so much so that Harry Reid decreed that the Senate would always be in session so that the President couldn’t make recess appointments and thwart the will of the Senate? Oh wait, that was for Pres. Bush. I guess the Senate now has time to take extreme vacations to allow the socialist in chief to get his extreme appointments through. If I were on the House appropriations committee though, I would vote against funding any of these recess appointments. The power of the purse works in wondrous ways. The democraps have never been afraid to politicize budgets and fundings, Iran Contra/Sandinistas/Vietnam anyone? Republicans must be as hard hearted as the democraps in the battles to come.

eaglewingz08 on December 30, 2010 at 9:46 PM

ED MORRISSEY might want to consider how many Obama admin nominees have been held up by Senators invoking their privilege and placing holds on nominees.

Either way, a President who has to make recess appointments while holding an 18-seat majority is either an incompetent or selecting radical nominees so far out of the mainstream as to lose members of his own party — or perhaps both.

Ed might look into what Sen Shelby was doing last Feb when he decided to block consideration of any and all nominees. Bond and McCaskill blocked a couple. Crazy Jim Bunning did the same.

And the holds weren’t at all about “radical nominees”

Ed and the Rubin woman can point to a couple of people out of many who were held up because they were too leftist or even because they were homosexual, but the truth is that most holds are just political bullsugar designed to trade releasing the hold for some other stuff that the Senator(s) wants.
Ed might look more competent if

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 11:50 PM

he talked about how things really work in DC. Having a majority, large or small, isn’t really a factor when every senator is allowed to place a secret hold that other Senators are always going to be loathe to overturn because they enjoy the same thing and don’t want to undercut their own possible use of it.

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 11:55 PM

My guess: Robert Ford’s (to Syria) real job will be to be the secret go-between for Obozo and Iran.

That’s why the post is being filled.

Given Syria’s actions in Lebanon, there’s no conceivable reason for giving them the honor of a ‘full’ ambassador.

Besides, it’ll less embarrassing than using worthless loser Carter (and Kerry), not to mention keeping either of them off the stage of national prominence.

Mark my words.

CPT. Charles on December 31, 2010 at 12:03 AM

maybe not such a good guess. our objectives in Syria are to split the Syrians away from the Iranians and we have some opportunity to use the Iranian decision to to fully support Hezbollah in Lebanon at the expense of Syrian interest there to work with.

that’s primary, and if we can weaken the alliance and use that to hobble Hezbollah, then we’ll have weakened Iran and improve our bargaining position.

no Bozo on this one, charlie.

audiculous on December 31, 2010 at 12:12 AM

recess appointments are just another part of the process in DC.

As of October 31, 2008, President Bush had made 171 recess appointments. President William J. Clinton, in comparison, made a total of 139 recess appointments during the course of his presidency.

and almost all of the appointments were people who had been nominated and the nomination was pending when he decided to use recess appointments.

In 165 of the 171 cases in which President Bush made a recess appointment, the individual was also nominated, by October 31, 2008, to the position to which he or she had been appointed. In 162 of these 165 cases, the individuals being appointed had previously been nominated to the position.

–from a report by the Congressional Research Service.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33310.pdf

audiculous on December 31, 2010 at 12:30 AM

When your party filibusters anything and everything, you’re not allowed to bitch about recess appointments.

Tom_Shipley on December 30, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Still trying to figure out how the GOP can filibuster when the Dems had majorities in BOTH houses. Math is hard.

search4truth on December 31, 2010 at 9:32 AM

audiculous on December 31, 2010 at 12:12 AM

In a sane world, that would be the plan.

The problem: Syria has long since chained itself Iran and under the current circumstances, they’d have every right to think so.

Under the current dynamic, Iran is perceived to hold the (long-term) winning hand. The fall of Turkey into Iran’s orbit is nearly complete; they are only regional military power that could crush Israel in a stand-up fight.

As long as the AKP rules, and Turkey stands with Iran, Syria has NO INCENTIVE to abandon it’s alliance with Iran. Period.

Obozo wants to make a ‘great diplomatic breakthrough’ to re-secure his prominence on the world stage. And he’s delusional enough to think that the Iranians will play along nicely with their regional neighbors. Add to that his poorly concealed antipathy towards Israel, and you tell me with a straight face that he’s not willing to cut a ‘devils deal’ with Iran for perceived ‘peace in our time’.

Your assumption gives too little credit to Iran’s planning and scheming, and way too much credit to Obozo’s willingness to bring peace to region without selling Israel down the river.

Have you even been paying attention to whom Obozo consistently sides with when push comes to shove? Or perhaps you’re counting on the strategic brilliance of Hillary to save the day? Wake the f*ck up!

Show me the signs that Obozo is intent on breaking hardening alliance between Iran and Turkey (other than the Turkish military stepping in on it’s own and settling the matter)or it’s links to it’s other strategic allies, and then, I’ll deem your position as the stronger one.

As things currently stand, we’re heading to a very ugly future in that part of the world.

And I’m seeing NO effective steps to halting what could come to pass.

CPT. Charles on December 31, 2010 at 9:56 AM

CPT. Charles,

Again, the Iranians are the ones moving away from Syria and Syria’s interests in Lebanon.

And Syria is not totally committed to protecting Iran’s interests at the expense of their own.

The fall of Turkey into Iran’s orbit is nearly complete;

That’s untrue. Turkey has moved away from the West but their not allied with iran in any real way. Turkey intends to pursue what they percieve to be there own interests and intend, as the region’s up-and-coming economic power, to maximize their own influence. Blocked from the EU they’ve turned to the East and that involves dealing with Iran, but saying that they’re going to “orbit” iran? More likely they’ll join Russia and China and the other large countries that are trading with Iran and extracting very favorable terms from the Iranians as they true to shore up their isolated and weakened economy.

But beyond that, the Turks are interested trading with the Arab states and are not going to try to do anything to scare off and anger the Arabs who are no firm enemies of the Iranians.

audiculous on December 31, 2010 at 12:47 PM