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Obama 2005: Recess appointees are “damaged goods;” Obama 2010: Recess appointments are “critical” need

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 29, 2010 10:22 AM

Ah, the Obama water-carriers at the NYTimes never fail to disappoint. They describe the Obama White House decision to bypass the Senate and make 15 recess appointments while the Senate is on spring break — including radical SEIU labor lawyer Craig Becker’s appointment to the NLRB, which was rejected by the Senate last month on a 52-33 cloture vote — as a “muscular show of his executive authority.” When that authority was exercised by GOP President George W. Bush, of course, the NYTimes editorial board called it a “constitutional gimmick.”

And when Bush used it in particular to appoint John Bolton as his UN ambassador, here’s what Obama himself had to say in 2005, via Morgen at Verum Serum:

“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.”

Now, such appointments are a “critical” need — and it’s all Republicans’ fault that Obama is carrying on business as usual, senior White House advisor David Axelrod moans.

As I noted earlier this month, the GOP obstructionism charge is a smokescreen for this White House’s own slow, indecisive, incompetent decisions on appointments of all kinds from judgeships to homeland security positions.

As GOP Sen. Charles Grassley points out, the White House is not just circumventing the full Senate, but the committee vetting process that is already underway in the cases of two of the questionable recess appointees:

“A lot of presidents have used recess appointments, but it shows a lot of disregard for the Senate’s advise-and-consent role to bypass not just the full Senate, but also the committee of jurisdiction that was in the middle of vetting the nominees in its jurisdiction. Jeffrey Goldstein and Alan Bersin were undergoing the Finance Committee’s vetting process. The vetting was bipartisan, as it has been since 2001 and maybe before that. Dr. Goldstein was answering my final questions about his prior work at a private equity firm that used offshore blocker corporations in the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes and his earning of ‘carried interest.’ Mr. Bersin was answering questions from both the chairman’s and my staff about what appeared to be conflicting information about his documentation and disclosure of various household employees. In both cases, this due diligence was directly relevant to the positions these nominees will hold. It’s a blow to a ‘well-functioning government’, to use the President’s term, that the President didn’t see fit to allow the Finance Committee’s due diligence to conclude. Now that the vetting process has been interrupted, these individuals will take their jobs without the public knowing whether they have experience that bears negatively (or positively) on their ability to serve the taxpayers. Also, the President should be more precise in his claims of Republican obstructionism. Finance Committee vetting is bipartisan. Beyond that, senators have every right to draw attention to an issue of concern by highlighting a nominee. It’s something that happened regularly with Democratic senators and Bush nominees, sometimes before a nominee was even allowed to have a hearing in the Finance Committee.”

To quote the old Obama: Damaged goods.

***

Ditto Ed Morrissey: “The best prevention for radical choices like Craig Becker is to have someone other than Barack Obama in the White House, and enough Republicans in the Senate to keep the chamber in session. Elections have consequences … and we usually only learn that when experiencing the unpleasant ones.”

***

Here are the 15 Obama spring break recess appointees:

The President announced his intention to recess appoint the following nominees:

Jeffrey Goldstein: Nominee for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Department of the Treasury

Michael F. Mundaca: Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, Department of the Treasury

Eric L. Hirschhorn: Nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration and head of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce

Michael Punke: Nominee for Deputy Trade Representative – Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative

Francisco “Frank” J. Sánchez: Nominee for Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce

Islam A. Siddiqui: Nominee for Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Alan D. Bersin: Nominee for Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security

Jill Long Thompson: Nominee for Member, Farm Credit Administration Board

Rafael Borras: Nominee for Under Secretary for Management , Department of Homeland Security

Craig Becker: Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board

Mark Pearce: Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board

Jacqueline A. Berrien, Nominee for Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Chai R. Feldblum: Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Victoria A. Lipnic: Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

P. David Lopez: Nominee for General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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