Much has been made recently of President Obama’s troubles with appointing senior staff and cabinet-level positions (or getting them approved, or getting them to accept his nominations, or…). But one appointment that the president did make successfully, went almost unnoticed by most of the mainstream media, and amazingly enough, much of the blogosphere as well.
It wasn’t until James Lileks wrote about it that I became aware of the appointment of Tony West as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s civil division. Mr. West has many notable accomplishments and I’m sure he also has many outstanding qualities. But could the president not have found someone more suitable? Someone, for instance, that DID NOT DEFEND American Taliban John Walker Lindh at his February 2002 trial?
As it turns out, Mr. West and his co-defenders cut a sweet plea deal for terrorist Lindh, who could be out of prison as early as 2019. Make no mistake, I don’t condemn Tony West for doing his best for his client–that’s exactly what he’s supposed to do.
But surely — surely — as we have remarked about Tim Geithner, a tax cheat; and Eric Holder, who actually got terrorists pardoned: there are other people equally qualified to fill this position, are there not? Is Mr. West so uniquely qualified for this job that no other lawyer of high integrity, profound wisdom, and sterling character would do?
As Lileks said:
“I mention this for one reason: Tony West is the President’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Division. If you want to know how far we are past 9/11, there’s your answer: John Walker Lindh’s defense attorney is going to work for Justice. I’m not saying he wouldn’t do a perfectly competent job.
“It just seems like one of those things that might have stuck out, once upon a time.”
Yes indeed. It sticks out to many of us that this is a painfully, mind-numbingly, tin-earedly, god-awful choice. Sadly, choices like this are what we must expect from this president. He’s shown us his mettle via his friends, his associates, and his nominees.
Welcome back to 9/10.