November 19, 2002
Bowles rumored for SEC
(AMY GARDNER, DAN KANE AND JOHN WAGNER, November 19, 2002, Raleigh News and Observer)
Among the rumors circulating in Washington this week is that Democrat Erskine Bowles is among those under consideration to succeed Harvey Pitt as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bowles, who just lost a Senate race to Elizabeth Dole, was recently asked about his interest in the job by a well-placed Republican operative.
Though hardly an obvious choice, the Charlotte investment banker and former Clinton chief of staff would have instant credibility with Democratic critics of the commission.
This is the kind of thing--getting real Democrats to serve in his government--that President Bush made possible on Election Day. This appointment would be particularly canny because it would remove any hint of cronyism from the SEC. They should offer Ron Kirk a job somewhere too.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2002 4:24 PM
Hard-core Clinton haters will scream (given Mr. Bowles' role in the late and distinctly unlamented Administration), but this is exactly the kind of thing GWB would do - in fact, refresh my memory, didn't he do some appointments just like this down in Texas?
BTW, there's a good long profile of Bush-as-war-commander in the Washington Post today (you can find it in the online edition, I'm sure) complete with interview. I don't think the online edition has pictures, but the paper edition had a terrific shot of W silhouetted against the sky at morning on his ranch.
Two words-- Henry Cuellar. Bush made him Secretary of State. How does he repay Bush? He runs against one of Bush's favorite congressman, Henry Bonilla.
Another two words-- Tony Sanchez. Bush put him on the UT Board of Regents. How does he repay Bush? He runs against Bush's lt. governor turned governor.
Ron Kirk isn't done with politics. He'll just use any appointment to hitch a ride on Bush's star just like Cuellar and Sanchez. You can't trust Bowles either. He could easily run for the Senate again someday-- like when Dole retires after serving possibly only a single term.
That's fine--they needn't switch parties to serve a Republican adminstration. But Rick Perry, John Cornyn and Liddy Dole are object lessons--pretty weak GOP candidate who won easily in what are now fundamentally Republican states. Moderate and conservative Southern Democrats need to think about that.
NHPolitico has a point - across the aisle appointments don't always work out (see Norm Mineta).
Beside, during the campaign the GOP made a big deal of Bowle's questionable business dealing and being part of a investor fraud suit by CT against his former firm. How does the GOP now say he's the right man for cleanup at the SEC?
Kirk's comment during the Senate campaign about Bush sending minorites to fight and die in Iraq probably scuttled any chance he had to get a job with the administrationm -- those remarks were in all likelihood too close to the 'James Byrd line' for the Bushies. Plus his (relatively) close finish against Cornyn means Kirk probably would be the frontrunner in any future state primary election race he entered, so long as he doesn't get the Democratic activists ticked off by 'consorting with the enemy.'
Bowles, being the most low-key Cliton official this side of Warren Christopher, would probably have a better chance of getting some type of appointment, but the charges against him during the campaign would leave the White House with some 'splainin to do to other Republicans and any key Wall Street people who might also covet the job.
Um, by the way, that's the RALEIGH News & Observer...
Tough call. The SEC appointment could really benefit from being handed to a co-pted Democrat. So much of the issues that need "urgent" handling by the SEC are only issues if they can be politicized. (Substantively, there are far more meaningful market-driven ways to heal the execsses of the late-90's.)
However, I agree with a lot of what has been said about Bowles' (and Kirck; I am not sure about Cuellear and Sanchez). The threshold for "character" should not be lowered, even for Dems.
You don't mean this Erskine Bowles, champion of the little guy, right;
This past week, when it was discovered that former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles was a board member at Merck Pharmaceuticals, currently accused of inflating revenues by $12 billion, Senate investigators declined to call Mr. Bowles to account. Mr. Bowles is also under scrutiny for allegedly costing Connecticut retirees $100 million while a managing partner of investment bank Forstman Little.
Of course, if Richard Blumenthal hadn't wasted the better part of
a decade in the dual extortion schemes, known as the Microsoft
and Tobacco lawsuits, maybe such
events would have been avoided.
Which brings us to premier hypocrisy
regarding Pitt, (fmr atty for Boesky
& co; who were involved in the organization of HNG; ie Enron) &
Webster, (board member of US
Technologies: removed from acct.
oversight board et al; but not Rubin,
the go between on HNG while at Goldman Sachs, with future Sen.
Corzine, not far behind) & Alexander
Haig, George Mitchell, & Beth Dozoretz, (also directors of US Tech;
who bailed out in the same month as
Webster; can we say media bias; or
at least distorted media focus; by the way, how did the muckraking
press of the 30s, allow Joe Kennedy;
the Ken Lay of his day; to assume the SEC chairmanship; yet let Richard Whitney; get the Martha Stewart treatment;
I believe NH is incorrect, Bush didn't appoint Cuellar secretary of state. That was Bush's successor, Republican Governor Rick Perry. Point stands, though.
Also, even comparitively, Kirk wasn't that close. He wasn't even the closest on the Democratic side. Kirk's campaign (and especially Sanchez's) probably make such an appointment impossible anyhow for anything except a hollow position like Secretary of Commerce.