Monday, January 08, 2007

Replacing Harriet Miers: A Great Pick

According to Time Magazine, Fred Fielding has been named White House Counsel.

I have known Fred since 1979, when he was an officer of a resort condominium association on Sanibel Island which was a litigation client of mine. Fred and I worked very closely together for nearly three years on a very interesting case. He is a first class human being and has a first class legal mind.

Fielding was John Dean's assistant during the Watergate scandal, and was unscathed because he was smart and had impeccable integrity. Later he became White House Counsel for Ronald Reagan. He was also on the September 11 Commission.

Some thought he was Deep Throat, but he denied it, and that denial proved well founded.

At this stage of his career (and you can trust me on this), he doesn't need the work. He has taken this job because he is needed and because he believes in the President for whom he will be working.


In the comments there has been some concern expressed about the ability of the White House to withstand Congressional scrutiny while Henry Waxman, et al are in control.

Here is an excerpt of tonight's NYT article on that subject:

Mr. Fielding forged his skills in politically charged episodes like Watergate and the air traffic controllers’ strike in 1981.

A Republican close to the White House said Mr. Fielding had maintained close ties to Mr. Cheney, whom he has known for decades, and had occasionally been an informal adviser to him.

J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge who worked with Mr. Fielding in the Reagan administration and remains close to him, said:

“He has a firm, clear view of executive prerogative, but he also understands as well as anyone in Washington the constitutional need for compromise. He is not someone that takes an absolutist position and then drives the presidency and the branches together off the brink. He has judgment.”

Kenneth M. Duberstein, a chief of staff for Mr. Reagan, said because Mr. Fielding had been an aide to two presidents he would not be cowed by the Oval Office or so charmed by the president that he would shy from giving potentially unwelcome advice.

“Fred has an independence of judgment and independence of stature,” Mr. Duberstein said. “He knows how to deliver tough news.”

All the same, Mr. Fielding is clearly being brought in to draw legal lines in the sand.

“He brings enormous credibility to both sides, but he’s the president’s counsel,” said Wayne Berman, a Republican lobbyist who is friendly with Mr. Fielding and whose wife is the White House social secretary, Lea Berman. “He’s not there to represent the views of the Congress.”

I think the last quote says it all.


Fresh Air said...

Countdown til some liberal rants on about Bush being the next Nixon...


Rick Ballard said...


I have a feeling that we're going to see a ton of vapid misreporting concerning Executive Privilege - actually, it will probably be more like 100 tons.

Do you have a preferred reference on the topic? It might be worth doing an AT piece if there's nothing of merit available.

vnjagvet said...

I don't Rick. I am confident that Fred knows the area backwards and forwards and will not invoke it unless he thinks it is unavoidably necessary to preserve the integrity and effectiveness of the Office of President.

Rick Ballard said...

I have zero doubts concerning Mr. Fielding's integrity. The problem is going to be getting the Executive Privilege concept reduced to the point that the average American can understand it - while the MSM evokes memories of Watergate and Iran-Contra.

Perhaps Gonzales will rent a pair of cojones and go after the NYT to give the MSM something else to scream about.

terrye said...

Well so far at least I haven't heard much bad about the guy. But then again I rarely pay any attention to the sort of people who might have a problem with the man so how would I know?

vnjagvet said...

I think he will acquit himself well on that front Rick. While his partner's name is Wiley, the adjective also describes Fred. He will not allow the President to be blindsided, and will use all of the Executive Branch's tools, including Executive Privilege to the maximum extent, and (and this is the best part) appropriately.

Fred is "sound", tough and smart.

loner said...

Really great choice because, based on past performance, he can be depended upon to give the President sound advice. He is one staff member by whom the President will without doubt be well served.

Rick Ballard said...

The WSJ agrees - both with Vnjagvets assessment and with my concern about protecting Executive Privilege.