Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

Bush Packs the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council

January 7, 2009

In a rush of appointments prior to leaving office, President Bush is naming key supporters to a number of presidential commissions. Today Bush left his stamp on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial, which I wrote about a few weeks back. Here is the list of appointments:


Elliot Abrams, of Virginia, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Joshua B. Bolten, of the District of Columbia, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Alan I. Casden, of California, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring 01/15/11;


Michael Chertoff, of New Jersey, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


William Danhof, of Michigan, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Sanford Gottesman, of Texas, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Cheryl Feldman Halpern, of New Jersey, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


J. David Heller, of Ohio, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Amy Kaslow, of Maryland, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


M. Ronald Krongold, of Florida, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Michael B. Mukasey, of New York, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09;


Daniel Silva, of the District of Columbia, for a five-year term beginning 01/16/09.


The list includes many of Bush’s biggest allies in the Jewish community. Notice Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

What makes Bush’s appointments here interesting is the degree to which the Holocaust Memorial has become an object of bipartisan support — to the point where appointment to its council is considered a political plum with which to reward diehard backers.

There was a time during the Clinton Administration, when conservatives, particularly neocons viewed the Holocaust Memorial with suspicion.  In 1993, Philip Gourevitch (not really a neocon, but writing for the Forward in its conservative incarnation) wrote a groundbreaking piece critical of the memorial in Harpers. Jonathan Rosen critqued it in the New York Times the same year. And my friend Ira Stoll described the museum as a “a playpen for Clinton loyalists” in the Wall Street Journal in 2001.

Now the Bushies will have the Memorial with which to play.


Bush Convention Speech: Is It Legal?

September 3, 2008

I’m watching President Bush address the Republican National Convention from the White House via satellite. The setting for the speech makes me wonder whether his address is even legal. The RNC is a private political event, and politicians are not allowed to use public resources, such as their offices on Capitol Hill, for expressly political purposes. While everything every politician does in office is political, express political activity, such as campaigning for other politicians or raising funds, must take place off premises.

McCain Discards Bush

September 2, 2008

In my New York Sun column, I observe that Hurricane Gustav gives John McCain the chance to remove George W. Bush from the program and become his own man.

“The unifying thread connecting many of this week’s tumultuous events — the scaling back of much of the Republican National Convention due to Hurricane Gustav, the canceling of President Bush‘s speech to delegates, and even the selection of the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as Mr. McCain‘s running mate — is the reintroduction to America of Mr. McCain outside of Mr. Bush’s shadow.

Mr. Bush, whose approval ratings languish between the high 20s and low 30s, represents the greatest weight on Mr. McCain’s candidacy. Mr. Obama’s line last week was typical of the type of attack Mr. McCain can expect during the next two months: “McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush was right more than 90 percent of the time?” Now, thanks to events planned and unplanned, Mr. McCain is about to emerge as entirely his own man.

Mr. McCain’s rejiggering of the convention schedule in St. Paul provides the strongest contrast with President Bush. Mr. Bush’s plummet into historically low unpopularity began with the administration’s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina. Although he was not the only public actor to have failed during the crisis — state and city authorities also played a major role in the disaster — Mr. Bush never recovered from the images of Americans stranded and helpless outside of the New Orleans convention center.

The new plan for the Republican convention shows that Mr. McCain, unlike Mr. Bush, will give domestic crises his full attention. His comments when he pledged ‘that tomorrow night, and if necessary, throughout our convention if necessary, to act as Americans not Republicans, because America needs us now no matter whether we are Republican or Democrat’ set the tone.

Even before the formation of Hurricane Gustav, Mr. Bush’s speech to the convention stood as the most awkward part of the convention schedule. Mr. Bush is toxic among Democrats, unpopular with independents, and hit-or-miss, even, with many Republicans. Under normal circumstances, it’s just not possible to remove a sitting president and the symbolic head of the party from a convention schedule. With the danger of a hurricane landfall looming, Mr. McCain was able to get both Mr. Bush and the even more politically poisonous Mr. Cheney off the national stage.”