To start with I found the following pertinent info on recess appointments at the US Senate web site...
During his two terms in office, President Ronald W. Reagan made 240 recess appointments, of which 116 were to full-time positions. President George H. W. Bush made 77 recess appointments during his term of office; 18 were to full-time positions. President William J. Clinton made 140 recess appointments during his eight years in office, 95 to full-time positions. During his first term in office, President George W. Bush made 110 recess appointments, of which 66 were to full-time positions.
There are two factors that would influence whether a president made a recess appointment — the unfitness of the people he's nominated and the stubbornness of the senate in affirming them. The Republicans controlled the Senate, six of the eight years of the Reagan administration, and all of Bush the Elder's administration. Republicans controlled the Senate through all but the first two years of Clinton's administration. But, given the rules of the Senate, the minority party can stall any nomination indefinitely.
One of the big differences is that Clinton would make recess appointments without letting the Senate know before-hand. Back in 2000 James Inhofe finally put a stop to all of Clinton's appointments until he agreed to notify them of recess appointments, and stuck to the agreement (To a Clinton an “agreement” is something to break whenever it's convenient to do so).
The Constitution allows recess appointments because the Senate can be in recess a long time. The idea was that the President could appoint someone needed for a post without having to wait for the Senate to return from their lengthy vacations. But for a long time now, recess appointments have been used to put appointees in office who would otherwise either be rejected by the Senate, or held up indefinitely in committee. As was Bolton.
It's funny to listen to Democrats huff and puff about Bolton's recess appointment, when Clinton snuck in quite a bit of riff-raff during recesses. Remember Bill Lann Lee? James Hormel? Roger Gregory? Didn't hear the Dems whine too much about those recess appointments — did you?
crossposted at JackLewis.net