[Marxism] The claimed irrelevance of presidential appointments
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 9 12:07:42 MST 2008
Monday Dec. 8, 2008 13:51 EST
Gen. Hayden and the claimed irrelevance of presidential appointments
(updated below - Update II - Update III)
A report from U.S. News & World Report today suggests that Obama is
considering having Gen. Michael Hayden -- Bush's former NSA Director --
remain on as CIA Director. I have no idea whether that report is true,
but here is what I do know:
(1) In May, 2006, Barack Obama voted against confirming Gen. Hayden as
CIA Director. Obama was one of only 15 Senators to oppose Hayden. In
his speech on the Senate floor explaining his vote, Obama emphasized
Hayden's role as Bush's NSA Director in implementing and overseeing
Bush's illegal warrantless surveillance programs -- programs Obama has
repeatedly decried as an assault on the rule of law.
In fact, Obama, while acknowledging in his speech that Hayden was
"qualified," described Hayden -- accurately -- "as the architect and
chief defender of a program of wiretapping and collection of phone
records outside of FISA oversight." Obama said his vote against
Hayden's confirmation was necessary "to send a signal to this
Administration that even in these circumstances President Bush is not
above the law" and "in the hope that [Hayden] will be more humble before
the great weight of responsibility that he has, not only to protect our
lives, but to protect our democracy."
If, less than 3 years later, Obama chooses as his CIA Director the very
same Michael Hayden -- who, during his confirmation hearing, justified
Bush's illegal NSA spying and said how proud he was to help implement it
[to say nothing of his (at best) equivocations on torture] -- then it
should be quite . . . let us, for the moment, say "interesting" . . . to
watch him and his most loyal supporters explain and justify that.
(2) Until five weeks ago, I literally never heard anyone claim -- in
either party -- that it was irrelevant who the President appointed to
his Cabinet and other high-level positions. I never heard anyone depict
people like the Defense Secretary and CIA Director as nothing more than
impotent little functionaries -- the equivalent of entry-level clerical
workers -- who exert no power and do nothing other than obediently carry
out the President's orders.
In fact, I seem to recall pretty vividly all sorts of confirmation
fights led by Democrats over the last eight years (John Aschroft, John
Bolton, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Hayden, Steven Bradbury) -- to say
nothing of the efforts to force the resignation or dismissal of people
such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Gonzales -- that were based
on exactly the opposite premise: namely, that it does matter who is
empowered to lead these agencies and departments, and specifically, that
their ideology not only matters, but can, by itself, warrant rejection.
Nobody ever claimed that Ashcroft, Bolton or Hayden were
"unqualified." It was their beliefs and ideology that rendered them
unfit for those positions, argued Democrats.
When and why did everyone suddenly decide to change their minds about
this and start repeating the mantra of some Obama supporters that
high-level appointments are irrelevant because only the President
counts? For the people who now make this claim to justify Obama's
appointments, were any of them objecting during any of the above-listed
confirmation fights that those fights were wasteful and unjustified
because presidential appointments are irrelevant?
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