Bush made 171 recess appointments and President Bill Clinton made 139. That's what happens when you have Congresses so wound up in partisan combat that they ignore the right of a president to choose philosophical companions in making administrative and judicial appointments.
One may argue over the proper process that should precede a recess appointment, but the Constitution clearly allows for them when necessary.
And neccessity dictated Obama's appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board. Without these appointments, those agencies could not function at full power.
There was no quorum at the five-member NLRB, rendering it incapable of resolving disputes between unions and employers. The consumer bureau, created by Congress to prevent another financial collapse, needs a chief on board before it can regulate non-bank financial institutions, including payday lenders.
Recess appointments may last only until the Senate's next session, so Obama's appointments last week of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB and of Sharon Black, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin to the NLRB will expire in 2013. Each nominee is well qualified, but the objections to their appointments have nothing to do with their credentials.
The challenges to their appointments are thinly veiled objections to the roles their agencies play. Republicans have been trying for months to reduce the CFPB's clout. Likewise, they would rather see the NLRB founder without a quorum than issue directives they describe as pro-union and antibusiness.
The critics are now taking issue with whether the Senate was actually in recess when Obama made the appointments on Jan. 4. Senators who didn't leave Washington for the holidays theatrically gaveled the Senate into session for a few minutes every few days. That same trick was used by the Democrats when Bush was president.
What a sorry state of affairs. No wonder Congress is held in such low esteem. Its partisans are all too willing to obstruct government to force their philosophical view. That agenda hardly benefits the bulk of Americans.