Well, there they go again. It’s confirmation time for some new cabinet posts, and we are offered more candidates of limited background and questionable credentials. For Education, Margaret Spellings from Texas, a former lobbyist and architect of the “no child left behind” concept who does not come from an education background but is rather a Bush loyalist like so many of his other appointees. But never mind, she doesn’t seem to be the same kind of phonied-up person as former Education Secretary Rod Paige whose statistical data from Texas was misleading and covered up conditions in that system that were far from laudable and not what we were given to believe when he was originally confirmed. No real problems, though, with confirmation at Education.
Alberto Gonzales is quite another story of course although he too is likely to be confirmed. Today, on C-Span’sWashington Journal John Cornyn, R.Texas, a member of the Judiciary Committee, was the guest, primarily as an apologist for Gonzales who has a very limited judicial background and has issued some rather peculiar memos regarding torture among other things. Then too when Bush was Governor of Texas, Gonzales, his personal lawyer, apparently gave him only the negatives (not fair and balanced presentations) when pleas from prisoners on death row were before him, perhaps one reason why Texas has the highest rate of capital punishment in the country.
Cornyn, of course, repeated the Republican mantra that some limited forms of, let’s call it persuasion, are justified because have we forgotten 3,000 people died on September 11, and don’t we need to extract “actionable intelligence” from prisoners? Never mind that Iraq was not involved in the 9/11 attacks. And, despite the fact that many of the people in Iraqi prisons may be common criminals, many of them are imprisoned as a result of general sweeps and may be the very people we so recently “liberated” from the excesses of Saddam Hussein. And never mind that most attempts to get information by means of torture are pretty generally acknowledged to be ineffective ways of deriving accurate information.
What is most upsetting about most Bush nominees in the end, though, is that they so often lack the level of expertise one would hope to find at the highest levels of government. In so many instances it is party loyalty rather than other attributes and experience that define a person’s qualifications for cabinet and other posts. Probably there isn’t much to be done about this condition given the current numbers in Congress but at least one hopes that a proper vetting will be take place so that, on the off chance at least some folks are paying attention, a few bits of information will slip out and begin a process of enlightenment.

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