Abipartisan group of senators — Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 13 others — introduced legislation last week to pare about 200 presidential nominees from the list of jobs requiring Senate confirmation.
The hope is to free up the Senate to do its job of advising and consenting (or not) to the more important presidential nominations at a faster pace. Most of the 200 or so jobs at the various agencies are at less contentious non-policy posts — usually the administrative, public affairs and legislative affairs folks. (We’ve long advocated this move to speed the abysmally snail-like presidential transition process.)
Critics say the change would give the president additional power at the Senate’s expense. Proponents say these positions don’t require the Senate’s seal of approval.
The real downside, however, is that if the measure passes — something pretty much assured in the Senate and likely in the House — there will be fewer honorable people in Washington at a time when honor appears to be in dreadfully short supply.
That’s because the bill, by depriving these fine ladies and gentlemen of Senate confirmation, means they won’t get (or at least won’t merit) those fine invitations addressed to “The Honorable Boothby Williford” and such.
Senior-most White House staff members and Senate confirmees are entitled to be addressed as “the Honorable,” unlike other, lesser presidential appointees.
So for the green-eyeshade people and the flacks, sic transit gloria. (Incumbents, naturally, are grandfathered in.)
As you may have read here last week, some Marines in Hawaii were hit with higher ticket prices for their flights home before deployment to Afghanistan because the deployment schedules changed. As a result, some of them had to rebook at substantially higher fares.
US Airways said its policy is to waive the $150 change fee but charge the price difference, if there is one, between the old ticket and the new one — often a substantial sum.
United Airlines also waives the change fee, a spokesman said, and will “work with the service member to rebook the ticket without additional charges,” but that may not always be possible, so there could be additional charges.
Delta’s policy appears to be somewhat more flexible. The airline “understands the need for flexibility with travel plans,” a spokeswoman e-mailed. “In many cases, this means not charging fare differences or change fees for active military.”
“Our apologies if we did not offer that level of flexibility to these customers and we would be happy to look into their individual circumstances to determine if they are eligible for a refund,” she wrote. Options for the battalion members would be to tweet a message to @deltaassist, go to Delta.com or call 800-221-1212, she said.
Don’t forget to enter the first Loop Iraq Naming Opportunities contest for 2011. This is to rename Iraqi streets, towns, rivers and such to honor American officials for their efforts in that country in recent years. One entry we’ve received suggested perhaps a boulevard in Fallujah, or a promenade along the Euphrates, that would be called the“Kenny Adelman Cakewalk.” Adelman, an aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the Ford administration and later in the Reagan and Bush II administrations, wrote in a pre-invasion op-ed in this very paper that ousting Saddam Hussein would be a “cakewalk.” (He later acknowledged the error.)
Send your entries to NamingOpps@washpost.com. The contest deadline is April 11. You must include a telephone number to be eligible. Winners,
to be chosen by an independent panel of experts, will receive a mention in the column and one
of those coveted In the Loop T-shirts. Ties broken by date of entry. Don’t delay!
Speaking of Adelman, a second op-ed, just after the invasion of Iraq, said his brilliant prediction was based on his “having worked for Don Rumsfeld three times — knowing he would fashion a most creative and detailed war plan.”
Probably hadn’t seen some of the recently disclosed memos from theRumsfeld Papers — a.k.a. the gift that keeps on giving.
There’s this one to aide Larry Di Rita a year after 9/11:
“I think I am going to need a person assigned to help me with the National Security Council matters completely,” Rumsfeld wrote. “He is mine, he works for me, he learns how I want things done, he runs down to see that [undersecretary Douglas Feith] and other people do what they are supposed to do, he pesters the NSC [the National Security Council, run by Condoleezza Rice] to get the materials. Obviously this is just a disaster around here.”
That’s what Adelman must have concluded in the fall of 2006, when he wrote in Vanity Fair that Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush team, which he had thought excellent, were grossly incompetent and “deadly, dysfunctional.”
(This concludes our last mention of Rumsfeld’s papers. Really. That’s it. No mas, as Roberto Duran said.)
Speaking of Rumsfeld, he battled an elevator Tuesday at the National Press Club, trying to get to our colleague David Broder’s memorial service. He got on and pressed the button for the 13th floor but got only as high as the ninth before the doors opened and someone got on and the elevator started going down.
“We want to go up,” Rumsfeld told the other passengers. So he pushed “7” and some folks got off and they wandered about looking for another elevator. But when they got to the second lift they ran into CNN’s Gloria Borger, to whom he related his tale of being lost.
“I know,” she commiserated. “Have you ever been in a more confusing building?”
He paused, looked at her with raised eyebrows and asked, “Have you ever been to the Pentagon?”