Monday, November 21, 2005

When sorrows come

A brief update on something we posted about before; Dubya's use of ambassadorships as political lucky bags hasn't yet rebounded on him as scandal, but there are procedural problems. The nomination of C. Boyden Gray as Ambassador to the European Union seemed particularly brazen, given the need for Senate confirmation notwithstanding Gray's side career helping force Dubya's judicial nominees through that same Senate. Today's Washington Post In the Loop column reports that the problem has still not been solved

But there are, we're told, multiple [Senate] holds on the nomination at this point, apparently from senators who took offense at an ad by the Committee for Justice, which Gray headed, which was pushing for the confirmation of Republican judges.

The ad accused "some in the U.S. Senate of playing politics with religion" in opposing the nomination of Alabama Republican Attorney General Bill Pryor , a Catholic. It showed a sign on the doors of a courthouse saying: "Catholics need not apply."

The underlying claim of the ad seems especially preposterous in view of the impending Catholic majority on the Supreme Court, assuming that Sam Alito's nomination there is confirmed. It's possible that Dubya may force through Gray as a recess appointment, although with the Congressional term expiring next year, that would only give him a year in the job. By using this procedure to put John Bolton in his UN job, Bush made clear that really wanted Bolton in that job, regardless of the length of time. We don't think that Gray has made any remark about the European Commission similar to Bolton's about the UN -- that you could remove five floors from their building and not lose anything. So the stakes here mostly relate to whether Gray ultimately wants the job.

UPDATE 23 NOV: And while we're on the topic of Dubya's pay-for-play ambassadorships, the players might want to bear in mind that the contributions don't end with the ambassadorship itself; from Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post:

"In anticipation of a lengthy and expensive court fight, a number of Republican former senators, former ambassadors and fundraisers are planning to raise $250,000 each and a total of $5 million for Libby's legal fund, according to people familiar with the plan. In a private conversation earlier this week, Republicans such as former ambassadors Melvin Sembler and Howard Leach promised to raise at least $250,000. Former senators Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.) and Alan K. Simpson (Wyo.) and former congressman Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) are also part of the fundraising campaign, the sources said."

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