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September 28, 2005

The best that can be done?

Julie Myers, at least, is not getting a free pass.

Stung by criticism over the cavalier manner in which they approved Michael Brown's promotion at FEMA, senators on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee harshly assessed her credentials to run the Immigration and Enforcement Agency, being cobbled together from remnants of our immigration and customs agencies into a sub-department in Homeland Security.

"... based on the resume, I don't think you are" qualified to run the $4 billion, 20,000-employee agency, Ohio Republican George Voinovich told her. Other senators, from both parties, expressed skepticism as well. The committee took no vote after its initial hearing, leaving the nomination as "pending."

The senators' assessments seem accurate, though Ms. Myers' resume has some strong points. The strongest seems to her stint as assistant secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce, where, she told senators, she supervised supervised 170 employees and a $25 million budget. Wasn't there long, though. She was appointed in mid-2003, but soon moved on to be a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues.

And ...

Well, her uncle is Gen. Richard Myers, who's term as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff just ended.

She just married John Wood, who's chief of staff for DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. (She herself served briefly as chief of staff for Mr. Chertoff.)

She's already been of the payrolls of four federal departments since Mr. Bush was elected president.

No wonder the senators are wary, seeing the possibility they're being asked to close their eyes and give their consent to filling another critical post with the buddy system's favorite. While Ms. Myers' resume is hefty enough that it wouldn't be fair to call her a hack, it's way light for the job the president wants to give her.

Sen. Voinovich, who during the hearings said, "I'd really like to have (Mr. Chertoff) spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you're qualified for the job," has since had a telephone conversation with Mr. Chertoff, and now says he is likely to vote to confirm Ms. Myers. Makes me wonder what was said in the private telephone conversation, and why it wasn't said in an open hearing.

Also wonder if Mr. Bush looked long enough before making this nomination. Isn't there a Republican anywhere who's both willing to serve and better qualified than the job-hopping Ms. Myers?

We just had a graphic illustration of how the crony system messed up one vital sub-agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Let's hope the senators find courage enough not to repeat the mistake at another.

Posted by jcb at September 28, 2005 02:47 PM


How about a non-politician! Like that could happen.

Posted by: Dennis Hamilton at September 29, 2005 12:02 PM

Is the whole layer of upper management of the federal agencies competely rotten? Makes you wonder. I suppose it's not completely different than the private sector, where underlings generally contrive to prop up their incompetent superiors...

Posted by: Anonymous at September 29, 2005 01:59 PM