The mainstream media has filled many columns over the past few weeks regarding Bush cronies, and the embarrassment they have brought the administration.
Yes, Harriet Miers was a poor choice for the Supreme Court. Anyone in Washington — Democrat or Republican — was more than happy to share that with the press. And how about FEMA Director Michael Brown? After Hurricane Katrina, the media learned that “Brownie” and his top two assistants had no experience in disaster management. Yikes.
But the media hasn’t written as extensively about other Bush cronies. It’s not that the information is unavailable — the Washington Post, for one, has been on top of things — but stories are few and far between.
And yet, with the U.S. fighting a “war on terror,” these appointments may be as damaging as Brown’s decision to take a lengthy dinner break in Baton Rouge rather than deal with the dead and dying of New Orleans.
But unless the media takes on the appointments of cronies like Paul Bonicelli with the same vigor as Miers and Brown, the average American won’t ever know their names, let alone how poorly qualified they are for their jobs.
Bonicelli was appointed by Bush in October as a deputy in the USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. It was a nomination that played well with Bush’s conservative Christian base, but made no sense otherwise.
And sadly, other than The New Republic and a smattering of foreign press, the appointment was ignored by the media.
Among the charges for Bonicelli is strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights” in the developing world, a key role as the Bush Administration tries to foster democracy in Iraq and the broader Middle East.
But Bonicelli isn’t close to being qualified for the position.
According to USAID, Bonicelli most recently served as Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College, in Virginia.
The fundamentalist institution’s motto is “For Christ and Liberty.” Students and faculty members are required to sign a 10-part “statement of faith” declaring, among other things, that hell is a place where “all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity.”
Given his “statement of faith,” how can Bonicelli possibly strengthen “respect for human rights” to primarily non-Christians? What objectivity can he bring to decisions involving Muslims, who by his “statement of faith” Bonicelli believes will be confined to an eternity in hell?
Bonicelli’s appointment might be excused if he had extensive background in international relations. He doesn’t. According to USAID, his resume includes a stint as a staff member on the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and he once was an assistant professor of political science at the world-renowned Grove City College, in Pennsylvania.
Will Bonicelli’s appointment cost lives, like a Michael Brown? Probably not. Will he cause the Bush Administration as much embarrassment as Harriet Miers? Doubtful.
But that doesn’t make his appointment right, either. Americans should know about Bonicelli, because during our “war on terror,” there’s no room for cronies anywhere in government.
This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.