The politics of pettiness

Democrats, led by John Kerry, are having a continuing hissy fit over President Bush's recess appointment of Sam Fox, a wealthy GOP donor, as his ambassador to Belgium. Such ambassadorships have long been used to reward political friends by both Democrats and Republicans.

Kerry made clear during confirmation hearings that he rejected Fox because of his $50,000 donation to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. So Kerry's resentment over a perfectly legal donation that led to stingingly effective ads against him is being allowed to determine the suitability of appointees. This is horribly petty.

The press, of course, long ago propounded the false notion that SBVT lied about Kerry's record. Mary Ann Akers in her Washington Post coverage  today repeats the party line:
Fox gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign that smeared Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) Vietnam record and helped doom his 2004 presidential quest. [emphasis added]
"Smeared" implies a falsehood was propounded. This is itself a lie, as Ed Morrissey notes  today: one has been able to refute the substantial evidentiary and testimonial record of their charges. Oh, people claim that the 250+ Swift Boat veterans have been discredited, but the best they can do is to dispute one detail in one particular battle with opposing testimony. Kerry, who made his combat service an issue in the 204 campaign as a way to cheap-shot Bush's service in the National Guard, created entire fantasies about Christmas in Cambodia, a magic hat, and allowed at least one man to deliver speeches about his personal experiences with Kerry during battles in which the man could not possibly have participated.
Now, the Democrats are seeking to employ a technicality that sounds a bit dubious. The law prevents a recess appointee from receiving a salary, but Fox is happy to serve without pay. However, the Dems are claiming that the salary is set by law, and that he will receive use of the official residence and (no doubt) funds for parties, etc.

In raising such a fuss, and probably sending the matter to court, the Democrats reveal themselves as a party obsessed with personal vengeance against those who have the temerity to finance electoral criticism. They would do well to pause and consider both the appearance this creates, and the possibility of the shoe being on the other foot someday. Tradition has allowed qualified (i.e., non-felonious) appointees to serve as ambassadors as a political reward. Maybe it would be a good thing for that tradition to end. But something tells me that the next Democrat in the White House is going to want to hand out ambassadorships to her supporters.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky