When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meets on Wednesday to vote on whether or not to favorably send some routine nominations to the full Senate, there's no hiding that, among the eight people being considered for critical appointments to U.S. agencies, there is one certifiable scumbag who the White House is hoping will slip through the cracks.
When you have a disastrous war going on that's killing American troops every day and draining the national treasury, approval ratings going nowhere but down and an Attorney General who has more problems than a guy named "Scooter" in a prison shower room, I guess you probably hope that something like this will squeak by.
We'll see if it does.
Sam Fox, of St. Louis, was nominated by George W. Bush in January to be the new U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. It's not unusual in either party for a guy who pumps a lot of money into political campaigns to be rewarded with such a post -- and Fox is certainly a big-time Sugar Daddy for the GOP -- but this guy took that standard up a few notches by donating $50,000 to the Swift Boat Liars, who used fabrications and smears to help derail John Kerry's (D-MA) 2004 presidential campaign.
So it created substantial drama a month ago when Fox appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination hearing and, much to his regret, a Senator named Kerry hadn't called in sick that day.
What followed was a sweet grilling that included a very controlled Kerry asking Fox how someone who gave that much money to a pack of proven liars, who tangibly affected the outcome of a presidential election, could be considered a decent representative for America. Fox played dumb, first pretending to draw a blank on having given the money to the Swifties and then saying he did it because all politics is dirty and he was just trying to help his party.
The most nauseating part of the hearing came when, despite having given that much money to people viciously smearing a highly-decorated Vietnam war Veteran, Fox had the nerve to say these words: "Senator Kerry, I very much respect your dedicated service to this country. I know that you were not drafted -- you volunteered. You went to Vietnam. You were wounded. Highly decorated. Senator, you're a hero."
I admired Kerry for being statesman enough to not walk over and punch Fox in the face.
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) who was chairing the meeting that day as much as called Fox a liar for claiming such ignorance about his massive donation to such a well-known group of smear merchants, telling Fox "I don't think you necessarily crafted the message but you certainly knew at that point what the message was."
"It sounds to me like you were aware of it -- that this was not the best of political practices -- and you thought it was OK to go ahead and contribute to that," said Obama. "By the time you contributed, it was pretty widely noted -- it would have been hard for you to miss the fact that there was something particularly nasty and insidious about these ads. It had been well publicized at this point."
And so Fox returns to the committee on Wednesday for a vote that will either kill his nomination or send him to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.
If Fox gets a majority affirmative vote in the committee -- which contains 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans -- he will by definition get the simple majority required to be approved by the full Senate. At which point, I'm sure the people of Belgium will look at us wondering if we sent someone like Fox because one of the GOP's many convicted or suspected felons was not available.
I've received no confirmation as of this morning on how the committee's Democratic Senators intend to vote, but if you would like to give them a verbal nudge on why we shouldn't approve scumbags to be diplomats, you can call the Capitol toll-free at 800-862-5530 and ask to speak to the staff of one or more of these Senators:
Joseph R. Biden
John F. Kerry
Russell D. Feingold
Benjamin L. Cardin
Robert P. Casey Jr.
You might also want to give Republican Chuck Hagel a buzz and ask whether or not his own experience as a decorated combat Veteran allows him to vote for someone like Fox based purely on party loyalty.
Finally, Kerry or another Senator could choose to put a "secret hold" on the Fox nomination, which is an arcane component of the Standing Rules of the Senate (rule seven) that allows any Senator to essentially filibuster a nominee and hold them in limbo forever.
Kerry may be reluctant to do that because of what some may perceive as an understandable revenge factor, but it would sure be nice if one of his Democratic colleagues stepped up and slapped Sam Fox back under the rock from which he crawled.
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.