Editorial: Our Assessment of the Gaddi Vasquez Hearings

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez: The Gaddi Vasquez Nomination to Peace Corps Director: November 15 - The Gaddi Vasquez Hearings: Editorial: Our Assessment of the Gaddi Vasquez Hearings

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 7:17 pm: Edit Post

The previous section has been from our notes during the hearings and we have tried to report the facts as they were spoken. Any errors of fact are our responsibility. We are going to try to get transcripts of the hearings when they become available and post them on this site so you can check us. If you attended the hearings and think we made a mistake or significant omission please make a posting below.

But now this section is our interpretation of what was said in the hearings. This is opinion. This is editorializing. Keep in mind that Peace Corps Online has already come out opposing Mr. Vasquez as Director so we have an editorial bias. Someone else may have a differing opinion.

Our overall assessment is that Mr. Vasquez came across in the hearing as having a number of strong points but also a number of weak points.

On the minus side, he did not come across as very knowledgeable about the Peace Corps and it appeared that Senators on several occasions were sending the "hard" questions to Jody Olsen rather than Mr. Vasquez. Several times during the hearings when Mr. Vasquez was asked a question about the Crisis Corps or political appointees or 10,000 volunteers by 2003, he stumbled and gave the impression that he really wasn't very familiar with Peace Corps history, policies or procedures.

One of his strong points was that he appeared to have good political skills. When Senator Sarbanes grilled him about his responsibility for the OC bankruptcy and his resignation from office, he didn't loose his composure but handled the question by changing the subject and answering another question.

Another weak point was that Mr. Vasquez came across as closed-minded and unwilling to admit he could make a mistake or had cause to change his mind. On two occasions, first when questioned about his personal responsibility for the OC bankruptcy and later about the HIV/AIDS vote, he refused to admit that he had made a mistake or that he would do anything differently in the same circumstances. In his defense, he probably thought that if he admitted a mistake, his opponents would use the admission against him.

The personal goals that Mr. Vasquez stated for his tenure as Director are :1) to re-acquaint America with the Peace Corps, 2) to expand the diversity of the Peace Corps and 3) to enhance the safety and protection of volunteers overseas. The first goal that Mr. Vasquez mentioned for himself as Director, to re-acquaint the country with the Peace Corps, and his mention of the Peace Corps as having a terrific brand name, reminds us that Mr. Vasquez's previous job was as Vice-President of Public Affairs for California Edison Power company. That goal certainly plays to Mr. Vasquez's strengths as an accomplished public speaker and we can easily imagine him flying around the country making speeches on behalf of the Peace Corps but it also makes us wonder if making speeches is really the top priority problem facing the Peace Corps as we enter the new millennium.

Overall, there was really nothing in this meeting to change anyone's assessment of Mr. Vasquez. Supporters of Mr. Vasquez are still going believe that he should be approved because it is a courtesy to the President to let him assemble the team he wants. Opponents of Mr. Vasquez will be more convinced than ever that Mr. Vasquez lacks the experience to be Director.

At this point, we will wait for the Committee's final report in about a week and for the Committee vote which will probably take place after Thanksgiving. Opponents of the nomination should continue to call their Senators and express their views.

Hugh Pickens
Publisher, Peace Corps Online

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