Can I Get an Appointment?

By David Trumbull

March 29, 2001


You read it here first folks! December 20 of last year, in these pages, I predicted that Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Chairman Andrew S. Natsios would leave us to take a high level Washington appointment. I also stated that the major daily papers in Boston were way off in their predictions about Massachusetts politicians queuing up for Bush Administration jobs. This editorial humorist got it right on both counts.

Last week President Bush sent Natsios's name over to the Senate for confirmation as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Furthermore--by way of proof that Bush is a lot smarter than many people thought--he passed over all the big names in Massachusetts Republican politics. Yes, not one Beacon Hill politician, other than Natsios, has been nominated to any of the nearly 500 Washington jobs requiring Senate approval.

Help wanted

Then again, very few of those 500 jobs have been filled. The Brookings Institute, a Washington "think tank," has announced the Presidential Appointee Initiative, a weekly countdown on progress being made to fill positions in the Bush administration's Cabinet and sub-Cabinet. A running count is posted every Monday in the Appointee Tracker feature on the initiative's website, www.appointee.brookings.org.

According to a Brookings press release, "The site will track appointments to full-time, Senate-confirmed posts in the Cabinet departments and independent executive agencies (including regulatory commissions). The 484 positions included in the total do not include ambassadors, U.S. attorneys or U.S. marshals." As of March 23, the Senate had confirmed only 23 of the appointments.

Delays caused by multiple vote recounts in Florida--Bush, in his first term, has already won more presidential elections than Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt combined--plus a commitment not to repeat the personnel blunders of recent Republican presidents--remember NEA chairman John Frohnmeyer?--have put Bush behind schedule in filling important jobs.

Finding good candidates for federal jobs is not easy. The scrutiny of applicants personal, financial, medical, and mental history has to scare off many qualified people who simply would like to have a bit of privacy. The ten-page national security questionnaire alone is enough to make most people rethink the whole idea of government service. Let's not even get into what some of our nation's responsible journalists do to presidential nominees. The questions about alcohol and drug use rule out just about everyone but Mormon missionaries and Methodists Sunday school teachers.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans, one of President Bush's closest and oldest friends (and former drinking buddy), is a Methodist and a very active one at that. I shouldn't be surprised to find out that he teaches Sunday school. It was Evans who gave George Bush a Bible and invited him to a Bible study, thus starting Bush on the road to conversion and renewal. Bush is a strong believer in personal connection and loyalty to friends. He also believes in rewarding people who help him--Evans, a fellow Midland Texas oilman, raised for $100 million for Bush's presidential run.

Bay State businessman Richard Egan, recently named Ambassador to Ireland, was also a major fundraiser for Bush. Massachusetts Governor A. Paul Cellucci, who got the nod for Ambassador to Canada, is a long-time Bush supporter, going back with the Bush family to George H. W. Bush's first presidential run in 1980. Natsios also has a long history with the Bushes, having served, in the last Bush Administration, in the agency that he now will run.

Want to work long hours, often for lower pay than in the private sector? Application materials for Administration jobs can be downloaded at www.bushcheneytransition.com. You don't have to be an FOB (Friend of the Bushes). Nor do you need to be a major fundraiser. "I will look for people who are willing to work hard to do what is best for America, who examine the facts and do what is right whether or not it is popular. I will look for people from across the country and from every walk of life. I welcome all who are ready for this great challenge to apply."--George W. Bush.

[David Trumbull is Chairman of the Cambridge Republican City Committee.]