Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's Good To Be King

While most of us fixated on the midnight rules changes by former President Bush in the last days of his administration, or watched for the preemptive pardons of those members of his crew who signed off on torture or illegal wire tapping, he was busy appointing his BFFs to positions which will continue his legacy well into and even beyond President Obama's term.

Many of the appointments were of the vanity or resume padding variety (how much damage can someone do on the board of the US Holocaust Museum?); some came with the potential of nice paychecks and further influence. The recipients of the largess? Loyal aides and big campaign donors.

Bush made more than 100 such end-of-term appointments to a constellation of presidential boards and panels, such as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission. Like other presidents, he often turned to close aides and top political supporters to fill the last-minute postings, many of which will outlast President Obama's current term.

Nearly half of Bush's appointments after Election Day were filled by donors who gave a total of nearly $1.9 million to Republicans since 2003, according to an analysis of the postings. At least 20 of the positions were filled by former Bush aides, plus others filled by old hands from the administrations of Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Most of the positions are unpaid and are valued more for their status than for monetary compensation. Yet the appointments show how political connections matter even for the most obscure Washington jobs, and they illustrate the extent to which presidents have an impact well after they leave the White House.

Harmless enough, eh?

Well, the polar bears may not think so, given the Bush's lack of concern for global climate change. Not all of the appointments are so benign, however.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that while many of the appointments owe to vanity or good causes, some are also useful for maintaining political influence. "The real question is not only whether they are paid, but what benefits can they pay out from these boards," she said.

Consider the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the U.S. government's senior trade advisory panel, which favored several of the free-trade agreements that Bush was unable to push through Congress.

Bush named three members to the panel on Christmas Eve: Carol Ann Bartz, chief executive of Yahoo, who donated about $35,000 to Bush and other Republicans over the past six years; Maria Cino, who organized the 2008 Republican National Convention; and Israel Hernandez, who worked in the Commerce Department and the Bush White House. Their terms last through 2012, allowing them to play a role in influencing trade policy throughout Obama's term..
[Emphasis added]

Atrios refers to those who are perpetually tied to Washington DC as "the Villagers." It appears that one whole subdivision is set aside for those who have served a president well enough to get a lifetime gig.

Nice work if you can get it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Their terms last through 2012, allowing them to play a role in influencing trade policy throughout Obama's term.. [Emphasis added]'

Excellent piece! Regarding the above, it is shameful these lemmings can continue to influence.

I wonder how long it will take these people to understand that jobless citizens will not BUY. The bubble they live in has to grow weak and burst soon. If this situation does not PROVE that trickle down never works those that believe it are insane.


5:36 AM  

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