The Bolton Fiasco
-- The White House and Republican Senate leaders have a little
better than two weeks to save John Bolton as ambassador to the
United Nations after last Tuesday's fiasco in the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee. All that can be promised is that their efforts
on Bolton's behalf will be tougher and better organized than they
have been so far. That should not be difficult because they could
hardly be worse.
weak and disorganized, were ground down by the Democratic juggernaut.
Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio was so impressed by Democratic demagoguery
that he impulsively dropped his support of Bolton, ending the
narrow 10 to 8 committee tally for sending the nomination to the
Voinovich is notoriously quirky and prone to break his Republican
leash, the question arises why the White House was not more attuned
to making sure he was safely on board.
Presidential aides have met with Voinovich since he jumped overboard,
beginning the difficult task of reeling him in -- as well as Sens.
Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Republicans
who followed Voinovich away from Bolton. Even if the committee
majority somehow is restored, Chairman Richard Lugar will have
to defeat efforts by Democrats to bring in Bolton for an auto-da-fe.
outlook for Bolton constitutes a major victory for the adversarial
style practiced by Senate Democrats, with Sen. Christopher Dodd
of Connecticut taking the lead. Bolton's undeniable conservative
ideology has antagonized the State Department's liberal cadre
and its senatorial defenders. His hard line on Fidel Castro has
alienated Dodd, whose long-term goal has been normalization of
U.S.-Cuba relations. Yet, Dodd on Tuesday made the astounding
statement that his opposition to Bolton "has nothing to do
with substantive disagreements," only his personal characteristics.
demanding a postponement of a vote on Bolton, claimed during Tuesday's
session that Bolton's management performance "ought to be
indictable." He claimed it was "rare indeed for me to
express objection to a nominee."
Dodd has been a serial objector to Republican nominees over the
years. He has voted against Martin Feldstein (Council of Economic
Advisers), James Watt (interior secretary), James Edwards (energy
secretary), Raymond Donovan (labor secretary), William Clark (deputy
secretary of state and interior secretary), Rex Lee (solicitor
general), C. Everett Koop (surgeon general), Kenneth Adelman (arms
control director), Edwin Meese (attorney general), Robert Gates
(CIA director), Ted Olson (solicitor general), Porter Goss (CIA
director), Alberto Gonzales (attorney general), and Supreme Court
nominees William Rehnquist, Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. He
also opposed Bolton for his current under secretary of state position
and kept the nomination of anti-Castroite Otto Reich as assistant
secretary of state from even reaching the Senate floor.
new element in Dodd's case against Bolton was the claim by Melody
Townsel (self-described as a "vocal outspoken Democrat")
that she was mistreated by Bolton in a 1994 dispute in Moscow
when Bolton worked in the private sector. Her claims were buttressed
by Washington consultant Kirby Jones, and here again the Cuban
connection emerges. Jones is described by Newsweek as having "better
contacts in Cuba than any other American" and by The New
York Times as "the man to see about business in Cuba."
displaying the grand senatorial style, admitted he had not attended
previous committee hearings on Bolton and what he knew was based
only on what he had heard Tuesday from Democrats. Chafee, indicating
that he too was switching on Bolton, gushed about how thrilled
he was to hear a senator change his mind after listening to another
senator. Those comments could invite future demagoguery from Democrats.
always expect the worse from Chafee, who said he wrote in a vote
for the senior George Bush for president in 2004. But Voinovich
took the party by surprise. That surprise validates the opinion
of senior Republican senators who consider this administration's
congressional outreach the worst they have seen.
serious Republican defense of Bolton Tuesday was made by first-term
Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. This passivity not only leads
Democrats to believe they will prevent John Bolton from going
to the U.N. but also shows them the way to replicate this triumph.
2005 Creators Syndicate
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