Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

With Such Stupidity Even The Gods Struggle In Vain

The state of the Democratic caucus in the United States Senate has reached the point where it is not surprising that sixteen Democratic Senators have signed a letter to the President that opens:
We are writing to urge you to call for the removal of the Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson. We strongly disagree with your Administration’s decision to appoint an individual to head a not-for-profit corporation such as public broadcasting who is actively undermining, under-funding, and ultimately undoing its mission.
But Mr. Tomlinson's official on-line biography notes: An appointment of President Clinton, he was confirmed as a member of the CPB Board in September 2000.Mr. Tomlinson's appointment status should be known to every single Democratic Senator who is signatory to this bizarre letter because, as the CPB web site explains:
The President of the United States appoints each member, who, after confirmation by the Senate, serves a six year term.
Senators who signed the letter are: Schumer, Lautenberg, Feinstein, Leahy, Stabenow, Nelson (FL), Durbin, Kennedy, Harkin, Corzine, Cantwell, Biden, Boxer, Mikulski, Wyden, and Lieberman. Maybe they just weren't paying attention on September 8, 2000, the day the Senate confirmed Mr. Tomlinson?

Senator Schumer - who was a member of the Senate on September 8, 2000 - actually has this letter posted on his official web site.

The CPB board elected Tomlinson as its chair in September 2003. The board has eight members, and now consists of Tomlinson, Frank H. Cruz, Katherine Milner Anderson, Beth Courtney, Gay Hart Gaines, Cheryl Halpern, Claudia Puig and Ernest J. Wilson III. Of these current members, four (Frank H. Cruz, Katherine M. Anderson, Tomlinson and Ernest J. Wilson III) were appointed at the same time by President Clinton and confirmed on September 8, 2000. These four Clinton appointees were therefore all members of the board that elected Tomlinson Chair in 2003 by acclamation.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports:
"Mr. Tomlinson was first nominated to the board by the past administration and was renominated in 2003," said Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman.
But Ms. Healy appears to be in error because Mr. Bush seems not to have renominated Mr. Tomlinson at any time.

The CPB posts a press release concerning each appointment and reappointment to its board. No such press release concerning any reappointment of Mr. Tomlinson appears in the 2003 records. Moreover, the CPB press relase pertaining to Tomlinson's election as Chair says only that he was appointed by President Clinton - with no mention of any reappointment by President Bush. Nor does his official CPB biography mention a renomination. My guess is that Ms. Healy was confusing Mr. Tomlinson's 2003 election to Chair with a 2003 renomination by the President.

It's not clear (at least to me) why the Times doesn't correct her.

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