Sen. John Kerry is standing up against rank cronyism and political payback by temporarily blocking soundly-thumped GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Green from being an ambassador to Tanzania. His action putting a senatorial hold on the nomination has blocked the reward-for-running action for now, but Junior Bush, whose handlers never really cared much for advice-and-consent, will just appoint him during the August recess anyway. Although the Green appointment has somehow won the support of the entire Wisconsin congressional delegation (in a typical display of Democrat-only bipartisanship), Green presided over the most negative campaign in Wisconsin history and hardly deserves to be rewarded for his down-and-dirty efforts. But Kerry’s courageous use of his senatorial privilege at least delays the Greening of Tanzania for a couple of weeks, after which Green can return to Wisconsin, with extra unearned credentials, to poison our political environment again.
Having written that temporarily abandoned paragraph this weekend, it was interesting to see John Nichols coming out four-square for Green's nomination in the Cap Times Monday morning. Nichols is one of the most effective and important progressive voices, not only in Wisconsin, but nationally through frequent columns in The Nation and elsewhere and his service as a too-little-used talking head on cable TV shows. I can’t remember ever disagreeing with anything he has written and I’ll assume that he has some cocktail-circuit contact or knowledge about Green personally that somehow overcomes his appalling public record. But Nichols is still wrong about this. Mark Green is an empty suit who should remain in the closet.
Mark Green’s public career has consisted of being a useful idiot for others with actual (bad) ideas. He was Felon (yet, still free) Scooter Jensen’s lapdog in the State Assembly. He was Bush and Delay’s lapdog while in Congress for eight years. And, finally, he was the willing shill for the WMC and the state GOP as the figurehead for most negative campaign for governor in Wisconsin history.
Green, according to Nichols, "got very serious when the discussion turned to issues relating to Africa". So what? If he was really serious about African issues before or coming out of law school, there were numerous areas of legal and other work that he could have gone into to put that supposed commitment to work instead of being a useful political stooge for people like Jensen and Delay. According to Nichols, Green is graciously passing up a chance to take his House seat back in ‘08. I don’t know why Nichols thinks that return to Washington is such a sure thing, but I can’t think of anyone who would pass up a cushy resume-enhancer like "ambassador" to anywhere over the much-harder work and schedule of a congressman – especially a cipher like Green, who was a do-nothing boot-licker last time he was there and would return with the GOP in the minority and a Democrat in the White House.
Amazingly, Nichols thinks Green would actually have some impact on Bush administration policies not in Tanzania, but in Darfur, Sudan. Wha? Bush has done nothing about the crisis for years and now Ambassador Green is going to charge in to save the day? Even if he wanted to (which he might) or he was capable of it (doubtful), what ambassador in the history of the top-down Bush administration has even had a significant impact on any policy, anywhere? Nichols knows better than most how the Bush administration works. Why he thinks anything would be different with Mark Green in Tanzania is beyond me.
Let’s assume that Mark Green is a wonderful guy on the subject of Africa. Fine. But the role he has played as a partisan hack should disqualify him from anything "diplomatic", much less a politically-rewarded ambassadorship. If Mark Green wants to work in the foreign service, he can get the training and pay his dues like the many other talented, dedicated people in that field.
John Nichols supporting Green’s appointment is sort of like Cal Thomas praising a Democratic president for nominating, oh, say, Howard Dean as ambassador to...anywhere. The difference is that Thomas would never do it and a progressive like Nichols would and did. Like Al Gore graciously acceding to the theft of the Florida vote in 2000, we sometimes give Republicans more credit than they deserve. In Green’s case, he has done nothing publicly to deserve the sort of bipartisan support he has received.
He’ll get his damned ambassadorship when Bush once again flaunts the will of Congress and does the recess appointment. Let him wait.