September 27, 2005, 7:15 A.M.
Last week, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin expressed her frustration at the Bush administration’s recent attempt at appointing yet another inexperienced crony to an important position within the Department of Homeland Security. Malkin referred to the President’s appointment of Julie Meyers to head the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security, as a joke. While she is correct that Meyers is completely unqualified for the position, I don’t see that there is little to laugh about in the appointment.
Meyers is 36 years old and currently works as a special assistant, handling personnel issues for Bush. Her experience is apparently in law enforcement management and her most significant job to date has been as Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Commerce Department. At her hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Meyers told committee members that she had supervised 170 employees and had a $25 million budget at that job. Unimpressed with her credentials, Ohio Republican George Voinovich voiced his concerns with the appointment and told Meyers that he thought “we ought to have a meeting with Mike Chertoff. I’d really like to have him spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you’re qualified for the job. Because based on the resume’, I don’t think you are.”
Arranging a meeting with Chertoff should not be that hard for Meyers because where she may lack credentials, she definitely has connections. Meyers worked briefly for Chertoff as Chief of Staff at the Justice Department’s criminal division. More significantly, however, she married Chertoff’s chief of staff two days after her Senate hearing. She is also the niece of Air Force General Richard Meyers, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Amid a rising storm of criticism from both sides of the aisle, the Bush administration responded with apparent indifference. Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman, cited Myers' work with customs agents on money-laundering and drug-smuggling cases in support of the nomination. "She's well-known and respected throughout the law enforcement community," Healy said. "She has a proven track record as an effective manager." To this Malkin, quite appropriately replied, “Oh, give me a ^*&%$# break and a half! This nomination is a monumental political and policy blunder in the wake of the Michael Brown/FEMA fiasco. And I can tell you that contrary to the Miss Mary Sunshine White House spokeswoman's comments, rank-and-file DHS employees and immigration enforcement officials are absolutely livid about Myers' nomination.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Michelle.
Maureen Dowd has also decried the nomination, and put it in the category of another recent blunder: the recent nomination of veterinarian Norris Alderson, who has no experience on women's health issues, to the F.D.A.'s head Office of Women's Health. Dowd points out that “this nomination ran into so much flak from appalled women that the F.D.A. may have already reneged on it.” Dowd also quipped “Mr. Bush made a frownie over Brownie, but didn't learn much. He's once more trying to appoint a nothingburger to a position of real consequence in Homeland Security.” Malkin adds “White House, meet clue-by-four. Find someone better before this blows up in your faces.” Sorry, Michelle (well not really), it already has.
The Department of Homeland Security was originally opposed by the Bush administration, but was subsequently embraced after the Bushies realized that they could not stop it from being created. I can’t help but wonder if the recent spate of ridiculous nominations is nothing more than a concerted effort at undermining the entire program. I don’t put it past these people. Politics is always first with them, regardless of the price. Unfortunately the price to be paid is in the very security that was promised us by candidate Bush. I know from reading her work how strongly Michelle Malkin feels about immigration and the regulation of our borders as a primary front in the so called war on terror. Michelle Malkin and I don’t often agree, but I do recognize her real commitment and strong convictions regarding the INS and its role in national security. On the issue of cronyism, especially in key national security appointments, Michelle and I agree; there is no room for incompetents here.