Who cares if you were the President of the United States and led the Union to victory in the Civil War? According to the media, you enjoy your booze just a little too much, Ulysses S. Grant, and therefore you are not fit to hold public office.
So what makes a qualified public servant—one’s personal life or one’s life work? Henry Foster’s name may soon join the list of presidential nominees who have been struck down before their actual Congressional confirmation hearings due to the meddling of the media and public which has tainted the appointment process.
Foster, like Zoe Baird and Lani Guinier before him, has been put on trial by public opinion and not given the opportunity to face the Congress that is supposed to appoint them.
The Campus Times believes the leakage of information with the intent of harming a nominee’s image is hindering the duty Congress was set forth to do. Congress has been appointed by voters to approve or disapprove of presidential nominees. Its decision should be objective and fair, however recent cases are eroding this process.
Baird withdrew as Clinton’s nominee for Attorney General in January 1993 after the media and public expressed disdain toward her employment of two illegal Peruvian immigrants. Her qualifications as Attorney General were overshadowed by her relationship with the two immigrants. Frustrated with negative public opinion, Baird removed herself from the candidacy.
After Baird, Guinier, possible appointee as the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, became the next victim. Guinier was labeled as an extremist and a “quota queen” due to articles she had written supporting cumulative voting arrangements and a minority veto. Both of these proposals were intended to keep a majority from using too much power. One might even consider this a type of check and balance the Constitution aims for. However, Guinier’s nomination was pulled before she could face her peers due to lack of Senate support.
Clinton seems to have hit another wall with his nomination of Foster to the office of Surgeon General. The issue has become the number of abortions Foster has performed instead of his potential as Surgeon General. In an interview Foster claimed the number was less than 12. However, the National Right to Life Committee reported that the number was closer to 700. The public and media focused on the abortion issue until the accurate number of 94 procedures was calculated by Foster’s records. The time and energy used to get the accurate number of abortions would have been in better use if officials would have taken precedence to Foster’s qualifications for the position.
The exploitation of faults in nominee’s lives should not infringe on the candidate’s right to a fair and objective Congressional hearing. It is the duty of Congress to put possible appointees on trial. The people have put their input into the decision by voting on the individual who will represent their views. It is time to let Congress do the job it was established to do and let nominees receive the benefit of the doubt they deserve.