Patterico's Pontifications


How Does the Obama Administration Screen Appointees? They Don’t

Filed under: Government,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 7:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Earlier today I asked “How Does the Obama Administration Screen Appointees?

This evening Fox News’ Major Garrett gives us the answer — The Administration doesn’t vet the Czars:

“Van Jones, the Obama green jobs czar who resigned shortly after midnight Sunday, did not fill out the exhaustive questionnaire White House officials required of every Cabinet-level secretary and deputy-secretary position.

An administration official said special advisers to the president, or czars, are not required to fill out the questionnaire that runs 7 pages and contains 63 questions.

The entire questionnaire, the official said, is reserved for appointees who must win Senate confirmation.”

At least Brownie was confirmed by the Senate.

The article also quotes a official who confirms Jones intended to sign their petition, and concludes with this juicy tidbit:

“An administration official said Jones never hid his controversial associations or remarks from the White House.

“It wouldn’t be fair to characterize him as being dishonest or hiding his comments or his positions,” the official said. “It’s just fair to say that he didn’t go through the most rigorous vetting process.”

So the Obama Administration knew about Jones’ beliefs but didn’t care? Or even agreed with him? That’s good to know.


48 Responses to “How Does the Obama Administration Screen Appointees? They Don’t”

  1. So the Obama Administration knew about Jones’ beliefs but didn’t care? Or even agreed with him? That’s good to know.

    It would sure seem to me that in making an appointment, that somebody should have a darn good idea before making any announcements whether or not there is reason to expect any backlash.

    I mean, did anybody even just ask Jones, “Hey, anything about appointing you to this extra-Constituional position that might embarrass the President?”

    Seven pages of 63 questions might answer a lot of questions, but even that isn’t enough to judge a person’s character and beliefs. So, for somebody to pick this guy in the first place, they had to be already familiar with him, correct? And they thought he was an acceptable choice?

    The freakin’ loonies are runnin’ the asylum.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  2. This certainly opens up the door for asking some tough questions about the beliefs and backgrounds of some of the other loonier czars Obama has appointed.

    Pass the popcorn.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  3. As I posted earlier on another related thread:
    Jones is the Administration!

    AD - RtR/OS! (fad78f)

  4. Whether they vet or not, it’s very noteworthy that Van Jones himself did not offer up all information that might be damaging to the President and his administration before accepting the position.

    He had all the opportunity in the world to be straight-up and direct knowing that if it came out, it would be potentially disastrous and yes, distracting.

    His own selfishness sunk his ship.

    Dana (863a65)

  5. Hell folks, we elected a President without fully vetting him first. Why would it be any different from anyone in his Administration?

    JVW (d1215a)

  6. Argh. Spilled my drink and missed the 911 comment that Van Jones never hid his comments from the WH.

    I’m inclined to believe the truther because what do they have to lose by exposing this?

    Dana (863a65)

  7. Dana said:

    He had all the opportunity in the world to be straight-up and direct knowing that if it came out, it would be potentially disastrous and yes, distracting.

    Dana, I think this is a Nixon White House situation (if you go back that far). One of the striking things about that era was that the Nixon White House people sank deep into a kind of insular, contemptuous certainty that they were normal, their actions moral, “their” public aligned with them. They were genuinely surprised to learn how out of step they were, how disgusted we all were with them, how deviant they had become. I think Obama has still some connection to reality – it gets rubbed in his face with every Tea Party and every mulish balking from Blue Dogs he loathes but needs – but I think the people he admires and selects really do have no idea how ‘potentially disastrous’ their ideas and actions are. Jones didn’t hide anything, he was perfectly straight-up about it. In his milieu, it was praiseworthy and praised, it was normal. Read Firedoglake. This guy’s a hero to them. He thinks and acts like right-thinking, right-acting people do. He’s one of us.

    Simon Kenton (3d943d)

  8. We should have a Czar of the Week Contest. Personally, I think that the one that was given control of the auto industry with no experience in said industry was a great one. Or, the 31 year old that has never had a real job, outside of Dem campaigns.

    JD (329841)

  9. I think Obama probably considers Andrew Sullivan an accurate representation of a middle of road conservative… which explains alot about why he was most likely not too phased by Van Jones and his positions.

    Again, remarkably out of touch and tone deaf.

    [note: fished from spam filter — Stashiu]

    Dana (863a65)

  10. I generally agree with Simon Kenton, although I think the Obama Administration knows how out-of-step it is or it would be more open about its views.

    If Van Jones were a cipher, the Obama Administration would have had no reason to appoint him. But the Obama Administration doesn’t need to vet people because it knows them. What’s interesting here is that the Administration’s internal rules don’t require vetting. Normally vetting is done to protect the public, the government, and the Administration itself. But this Administration doesn’t need to vet its Czars because it already knows them and knows them well.

    DRJ (3f5471)

  11. I am heartened that only one of the Obama appointees is a ‘truther.’ After the Che Guevara posters, and the Stalinist hardball ACORN tactics that defeated Hillary! in the primary, etc., etc., I figured that there would be more.

    carlitos (e7707a)

  12. In his milieu, it was praiseworthy and praised, it was normal

    Simon, absolutely – and this again shows how out of touch our president is with half the population. Valerie Jarrett’s comments re Van Jones would also add to the vetting of his position as unnecessary,

    ““We” have been watching Van Jones for some years and are “so happy to recruit him to the White house”

    You bet they knew all about Van Jones. And it didn’t matter because there was nothing to be troubled by.

    Dana (863a65)

  13. These were all features, not bugs.

    JD (329841)

  14. The most transparent government in the history of all history is about as transparent as the lead box that shields Superman from kryptonite.

    And who remembers Pelosi’s embarrassing kid’s show promising a rejection of the “culture of corruption?” As Charlie Rangel continues his leadership of the House Ways and Means Committee. Maybe it’s because he’s a bonafide war hero, but I doubt it.

    Politics is politics and the damned GOP is as guilty of it as the Dems.

    And I’m sick of it. Elevating an avowed communist to a position of authority in an administration is an abomination to the Constitution.

    The American people are citizens, not subjects. The sooner the ruling class learns this, the better.

    Ag80 (01be36)

  15. From Andy McCarthy,

    We have a U.S. government in which Van Jones was quite consciously selected because his views are representative of the president who made him the “green jobs czar.” Van Jones isn’t Alger Hiss.

    There’s nothing covert about him. He didn’t snooker Obama into bringing him aboard. He is who he is, and that’s why Obama wanted him. Having a Communist in that job was perfect since the “green jobs” initiative is an important part of the hard Left’s agenda to use environmentalism as an additional justification for usurping command of the economy.

    For anyone with common sense and a willingness to look at what we were allowed to learn about Obama’s background and associations, nothing about Van Jones is the least bit surprising.

    Nothing about Obama’s penchant for government by radical, unaccountable czars is the least bit surprising. What is surprising is that smart people continue to treat these developments as if they were abberations that somehow happen independent of Obama, as if the president just needs to do a better job of vetting staffers. The selection of Van Jones is who Obama is and what he is about. Bad things are not happening to our president; our president is doing bad things — as we should have known he would.

    We need to readjust our expectations.

    Dana (863a65)

  16. An administration official said special advisers to the president, or czars, are not required to fill out the questionnaire that runs 7 pages and contains 63 questions.

    The entire questionnaire, the official said, is reserved for appointees who must win Senate confirmation.
    Is this standard czar procedure? Or is it just the way the Obama admin. prefer to handle theirs? Is this how previous administrations did theirs?

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  17. Emperor:

    I don’t know, honestly.

    How many previous administrations had thirty some-odd “czars” without Congressional oversight?

    I know Nixon had an “Energy Czar,” which eventually became the Energy Department. It was widely ridiculed at the time, especially by that guy who doesn’t write or draw “Doonesbury” any more. Is that what you mean?

    Ag80 (01be36)

  18. Sorry, “that,” not “what.”

    Ag80 (01be36)

  19. @17
    My point is what has been the policy for appointing czars before now? By not vetting these appointees, are they breaking any laws?

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  20. So…there is no controlling authority? Hmm. Where did I hear that before, and under what set of circumstances?

    Eric Blair (721b15)

  21. Emperor:

    No, “they” are not breaking any laws. Any president can name advisers for whatever they want them to do. It’s a loophole.

    However, there is nothing wrong with the general public to question the appointment.

    That’s called “democracy.” You can look it up.

    Ag80 (01be36)

  22. The Emperor,

    There is a discussion about that subject here. In general, these are considered Presidential advisers so Obama can hire them anyway he wants – much like he hires a secretary or any assistant. However, Obama’s appointments violate the spirit of our Constitutional structure because he grants the czars as much power as Cabinet secretaries who are appointed subject to the Senate’s “advise and consent” role. (The link says we should call him Prime Minister Obama since he’s acting more like a Prime Minister than a President.) In addition, people on both sides of the aisle are concerned about the number of czars and that it is an attempt by the executive to usurp the powers of the legislature.

    DRJ (3f5471)

  23. I can only assume that Civics is no longer taught in American classrooms.

    Wait a second, I know it’s not. My kids are in high school and they wouldn’t know Civics if it hit them in the face with a two-by-four. They think it’s a Honda.

    Ag80 (01be36)

  24. @22
    Thank you DRJ. We learn everyday.

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  25. Emperor:

    Wait another second. Did you really not know this? I thought you were baiting. I apologize for the previous snark.

    But, you’ve posted here repeatedly. I’m, quite frankly, astonished.

    I will moderate my comments to you accordingly.

    Ag80 (01be36)

  26. Ag80,

    I liked the Civic(s) comment. My how times change.

    DRJ (3f5471)

  27. I think The Emperor’s point was that Obama hasn’t violated any laws. My guess is that is her chief concern.

    DRJ (3f5471)

  28. It’s ok, Ag80. So many things I don’t know about. Guess that’s why I have you guys. Thanks.

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  29. Emperor:

    No problem. I don’t really mean to be an a-hole. If someone wants to know where I’m coming from, I’m happy to tell them without any insults if they’re sincere.

    And DRJ, your answer was better than mine.

    Ag80 (01be36)

  30. I don’t mean to keep harping on this but we are entering a phase where the government says things that no one believes, aside from those who don’t care if it is true. Health care may become the first area where what is being done will have little to do with official policy. People who can afford care will get it outside the official policy. A sort of black market in which the administration declares that rules are for those who don’t have access to the market. The Labour government in the 1970s had a situation where the Health Minister had a hysterectomy in Belgium by private physicians who had moved out of England to avoid the government rules.

    I don’t know if this will be accepted. At one of the town halls, a Congressman was asked by a constituent if she could have the same health care he had. His answer was that she should run for Congress. I don’t know how that will play.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  31. So the Obama Administration knew about Jones’ beliefs but didn’t care? Or even agreed with him?

    These questions are obviously all rhetorical, since anyone who has been paying even a small amount of attention starting from last year has to be fully aware of the scroungy background of Barack “Goddamn America” Obama.

    I’m sure he both knew, generally agreed with and didn’t care about the fanaticism of Van Jones, just as he undoubtedly knew, generally agreed with and didn’t care about the fanaticism of Jeremiah Wright. Or I should say he didn’t care about the ridiculous, radical, fanatical nature of such people until and unless negative publicity started to develop around their names.

    Mark (411533)

  32. […] over at Patterico’s with the inimitable […]

    Gazzer’s Gabfest » Someone’s telling porkies… (b98ad6)

  33. And you thought I was just joking with this comment.

    The unsurprised Dana (3e4784)

  34. That’s pretty funny, Dana.

    But we all know that Obama likes this crazy stuff.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  35. Forget rebooting the Healthcare takeover, let’s reboot this entire administration!

    PCD (02f8c1)

  36. I would like to draw peoples attention to an interview that Charlie Sheen had with Barack Obama, This is a 20 minute interview that took place recently , I challenge all honest , sincere patriots to read the transcript and think carefully of the import of the content . Curious? you had better be . This is huge . Peace from N.W. Montana

    Sailfished (b32b4e)

  37. The sooner the ruling class learns this, the better.

    Comment by Ag80 — 9/7/2009 @ 8:30 pm

    It really is OUR FAULT, because collectively we keep electing these royals.

    GM Roper (85dcd7)

  38. There seems to have been some vetting of Jones, according to this piece from San Francisco that mentions FBI investigations. There was no mystery about the guy’s views. As Jane Hamsher says, he wasn’t any crazier than most Democrats.

    Now he’s been thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35% of all Democrats believed as of 2007 — that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11. Well, that and calling Republicans “assholes.” I’m pretty sure that if you search through the histories of every single liberal leader at the CAF dinner that night, they have publicly said that and worse.

    I expect more stories along this line.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  39. First, shameless linkwhoring: Ric’s Rulez

    As several people have pointed out, Jones was “vetted” — it wasn’t done formally in a structured fashion, but Obama and all his advisors knew what Jones stood for and what sort of life he’d lived, and considered it all perfectly normal, straightforward, and aboveboard. Furthermore, it would appear that the vetting process they use (or claim they use) is designed strictly to accommodate Senate confirmation hearings; they know what Borking is, having invented the process, and don’t want to appoint people who can’t survive it.

    What’s happening here is that Obama is appointing people who can survive confirmation to the formal offices, then not using them for anything or allowing them to execute their nominal office. All the real power is delegated to the “czars”, who are the people Obama knows, trusts, and is comfortable with — and since they don’t have to go through Senate confirmation, it doesn’t matter whether or not they can survive it.

    This is a complete departure from the process as it has been constructed and established over the years, and constitutes precisely what was most feared by the people who established the confirmation process in the first place; namely, that the President would fill the offices with unqualified cronies and out-of-step ideologues, whose activities were bound to be destructive. Confirmation is intended to weed out the worst of such people while still allowing the President to select assistants he knows and trusts. Obama doesn’t know or trust anybody who could survive the process, so the appoints figureheads and puts his cronies and ideological allies in positions of real power.

    It remains to be seen whether or not the blogosphere can act as an adequate substitute for the confirmation process. The Leftoids are doing everything they can to defuse the bomb.


    Ric Locke (3d3364)

  40. Even if the administration chooses to close it’s eyes to the obvious political risks associated with extreme beliefs or past police problems, it isn’t accurate to say the czars aren’t vetted at all. The Secret Service vets, if these clowns are going to work in the WH, and Jones would have failed that vetting. Some very highly ranked individual had to deliberately overrule the Service, so that Jones could work in the administration. It would be interesting to know who that person is.

    MTF (17058c)

  41. In the interest of full disclosure the Charlie Sheen , Barack Obama “interview ” is a faux interview .It is an example of an interview that Mr. Sheen would like to have with the pres

    Sailfished (b32b4e)

  42. In Van Jones’ world, and the world of the czars, if you publicize videos of him calling Republicans an expletive, or signing a Truther petition, or accusing whites of polluting ghettos on purpose, or stating that only suburban white kids shoot up schools ala Columbine, then you’re a viscious smear-merchant. But of course, according to the wise talking heads at “Meet the Press”, you just can’t trust what you read on the Internet, even though Mr. Jones’ own words are there, on film, for everyone to see.

    rochf (ae9c58)

  43. I highly this post, from recommend this important post, fromThe Prowler at American Spectator. it seeks to expose the decision process that led to the Van Jones appointment, and highlights yet again we’re running with the risks of inexperience and naivete in high places.

    MTF (17058c)

  44. FUNNY
    “Here’s the problem: Some of the people whom conservatives and mainstream media voices alike have labeled “czars” have been confirmed by the Senate. Some of them, and others, hold jobs that were created by previous presidents.
    Take a look at Politico’s list of 31 “czars,” which shrinks to 30 without Van Jones. Republican strategists like Ed Rollins have used that “31″ number to allege that there’s a problem here. But perhaps the most controversial people labeled “czars” by Beck and by reporters have gone through Senate confirmations. Cass Sunstein, whom Politico labels the “regulatory czar,” is waiting for the end of a Republican filibuster so he can lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an office created in 1980. John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was confirmed by the Senate, unanimously, six months ago. But none of that seems to matter to their critics. Michelle Malkin, whom, again, Politico credited for making this an issue, relentlessly refers to Holdren as the “Science Czar” as if it was his actual title.
    Let’s just go down the Politico list…

    Like I said: funny.

    JW Democrat (e7f8ca)

  45. Shorter JW – ZOMG,YFR. Look, over there! Bunnies! Wonder when the auto czar will be confirmed.

    JD (e4e95a)

  46. JD, we should organize a protest of the pickle-czar and the dandelion-czar. Too late for the unicorn-czar.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  47. Back to the topic – Van Jones, the green jobs czar, resigned due to revelations of disgusting prior behavior.

    Van Jones was not appointed by the Senate.

    Van Jones was placed into his position by the Obama administration, which knew full well of his prior behavior and associations.

    Associations and behavior that, when exposed to the public, caused him to resign.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  48. Folks – JW just copied and pasted that text from one of his links, the one that was not broken.

    I am curious when we should expect the Auto Recovery Czar, the Car Czar, Faith-based initiatibe czar (remember how teocratic this was before?), Green Jobs Czar (oops!), International climate change czar, and my personal favorite, the Private Sector Pay Czar to be publically vetted. We already know, given the Story of Van, that little to no actual vetting occurs.

    JD (e4e95a)

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