As the Bush administration prepares for a
second term, it is important to draw attention to new possibilities
and potential hazards that the appointment process presents.
Several key positions within the Bush Cabinet have become
available, and others are likely to follow. Attorney General John
Ashcroft announced his resignation Tuesday, and Commerce Secretary
Don Evans quickly followed suit. Secretary of State Colin Powell
and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge are two other
officials rumored to be considering resignation. Bush’s
appointees to these offices will serve as an indication as to
whether he will truly fulfill the commitment made in his acceptance
speech to represent the entire nation, not merely those who voted
for him.

Angela Cesere

During Ashcroft’s tenure, he became one of the most
notorious members of the administration, particularly for his
abusef of the USA Patriot Act and disregard for civil liberties in
the wake of Sept. 11. White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales
will be tapped to take Ashcroft’s spot. Though no Ashcroft,
Gonzales’s record as Bush’s legal counsel is a dubious
one. Gonzales has been a key figure in the development of the Bush
anti-terror policy — one that has consistently acted outside
the confines of the Geneva Convention with respect to the
detainment and treatment of prisoners captured in Afghanistan and
Iraq. While not likely, Gonzales would do well to distance himself
from such policies and bring to the table an agenda that strives
for a greater regard for citizens’ rights.

As stated repeatedly on the campaign trail, judicial
appointments will be a hallmark of this administration, and
leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee will play a key role.
As current committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will no longer
have the committee chairmanship, the next senior senator is Arlen
Specter (R-Pa). Specter, a moderate, and already an enemy of the
conservative base for his pro-choice views, has recently drawn ire
for his warnings that an anti-abortion nominee might have
difficulty getting appointed, given the likelihood of a Democratic
filibuster. According to The New York Times, religious conservative
groups, such as the Christian Defense Coalition, are already
planning to protest Specter’s promotion and have organized a
demonstration in front of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s
(R-Tenn.) office next week.

While all of these positions have significant effects on the
direction of the country, we would be remiss to forget about
decision-makers out of the limelight, such as those that serve on
government panels. Bush’s record on appointees to panels such
as these has been abysmal thus far, notably his push for W. David
Hager to the Food and Drug Administration panel on reproductive
health and policy. Hager is the author of “As Jesus Cared for
Women: Restoring Women Then and Now,” a book that recommends
reading Scripture to ease premenstrual syndrome. Hager is also
known for refusing oral contraceptives to unmarried women. His
presence on an influential committee such as this draws attention
to what could be an alarming trend in Bush’s second term.

In the coming months, the direction in which the administration
steers the country through its appointment decisions will be
crucial. Contrary to popular belief, 51 percent is not a
mandate. It is our hope that new leadership will reflect some
semblance of ideological diversity that can legitimize Bush’s
claims to be a “uniter” and make good on his promise to
reach out to all Americans.

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