Friday, January 11, 2008

Parallel diplomacy

A now traditional Friday news dump by the White House, this one executed from Kuwait City --

President George W. Bush today announced that C. Boyden Gray will serve as Special Envoy for European Union Affairs. Gray served with distinction as the United States Ambassador to the European Union from January 2006 until his appointment expired on December 31, 2007. In order that the United States may continue to benefit from his experience and expertise at a time of great importance in U.S.-EU relations, the President has asked him to serve in this new role.

Nowhere in there is the word "recess appointment": because the Senate never approved Gray's nomination as Ambassador to the EU, Bush placed him the position without Senate approval which expired with the last Congressional term. Last week saw the wheeze of keeping a recess appointee in the job as "Acting" but this even more brazen, as the "Special Envoy" tag does an end-run around the entire system of ambassadors.

Crises get special envoys, not the EU. Although with his new mandate including "promoting European understanding of the Administration's climate change policies", maybe that is a crisis.

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