Skip to comments.How Did the GOP Aid and Abet the Borking of Bolton?
Posted on 04/27/2005 7:09:54 PM PDT by CHARLITE
The John Bolton nomination would have already gone through if not for the actions of Republican Senators Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel.
The Democratic Party has conducted itself in a shameful manner with regard to its scrutiny of John Bolton.
This, of course, hardly comes as a surprise given the Democrats propensity for obstructing President Bushs judicial nominees, or conduct with respect to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. These days the Democrats are more of a high school clique than a loyal opposition. However, in the case of John Bolton, Democrats would not have been able to take their shenanigans and smokescreens without the help of some key Republicans.
Lets begin with Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. He has fueled the Democrats bloodlust by playing coy with whether he will support Bolton. Chafee has given Bolton backhanded compliments, such as lamenting the loss of the respected, moderate voice of John Danforth, and stating that Bolton would not be my choice for the nominee. The best Chafee can do is to say that he is inclined to support Bolton. Even if Chafee should end up supporting Bolton, the Democrats would not have got past first base without Chafees posturing.
Then there is Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. Although a critic of President Bush in the foreign policy arena, he had publicly stated that he would support Bolton. Then came the allegations that Bolton had intimidated a former State Department employee who is now a member of Hagels staff. During the debacle that took place at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 19th (more on that later), Hagel said while he would vote in favor of Bolton in Committee, he would oppose Boltons nomination on the Senate floor.
It was believed that Boltons nomination would be approved by the Foreign Relations Committee. Although Democrats wanted to again delay the vote to find people allegedly accosted by Bolton, Republicans thwarted the measure and planned to have a vote. Only hours before the meeting, Senator Richard Lugar, the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, was confident that Boltons nomination would be approved across party lines by a 10-8 vote. Then lo and behold, Senator George Voinovich of Ohio suddenly informed the Committee (and the whole world) that he was not comfortable with Bolton and took issue with his interpersonal skills. This about face forced Lugar to delay the vote for three weeks. This is not the first time Voinovich has differed with the Bush Administration. Voinovich was critical of President Bush during the second round of tax cuts in 2003. His opposition was sufficient enough for the President to reduce his proposed tax reduction.
Senator Lugar also deserves a great deal of blame here as well. Why didnt Senator Lugar make certain that all his ducks were lined up in a row before proceeding with the vote, especially given Chafee and Hagels public wavering. Now, it has been said that Voinovich changed his mind after listening to Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd at Tuesdays meeting. Indeed, prior to Tuesday, Voinovich had not attended a single meeting concerning Boltons nomination. Sure, Voinovich may have changed his mind right then and there. But given Voinovichs reputation for being unpredictable and that he had not attended any of the previous meetings, it presented all the more reason for Lugar to make sure he had Voinovich on board. I am certain that Lugars staff talked to Voinovichs staff, but in this case Lugar needed to talk to Voinovich personally. Even if Bolton should be confirmed by the Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar ought to resign as Chair. The more assertive Norm Coleman of Minnesota or George Allen of Virginia would have made sure GOP Senators were in line, especially given the vociferous opposition to Bolton by Democrats.
President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and, most recently, Vice-President Cheney have issued statements in support of Bolton. However, former Secretary of State Colin Powell has been working behind the scenes to see Bolton (and by extension the Bush Administration) defeated. Powell refused to endorse a letter signed by seven other Secretaries of State endorsing Boltons nomination. Powells former Chief of Staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, told the New York Times that Bolton would be an abysmal ambassador. If that were not enough, Powell has been working the phone and has talked with Senators Chafee and Hagel at their request. This is undoubtedly the moment Powell has been waiting for since he was effectively isolated in the Bush Administration for his soft views on the war on terrorism and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
It is rather disconcerting that in an age where Republicans control the White House and both Houses of Congress that the majority party is unable to nominate our representative to the United Nations and take the leadership role that the United Nations so desperately needs. It is as if they are afraid of their own shadow. The United States has a responsibility to both itself and to the rest of the world. As unjustified as the Democrats criticism has been it is not unexpected. The Democrats are an opposition party that says black when the White House says, well, white. Perhaps it is also a case of some Republicans falling under the influence of the left wing and increasingly Democratic Party notion that American power is inherently bad, that we ought not to use it and, heaven forbid, criticize the United Nations. Sadly, some Republicans are as complicit in the borking of John Bolton as the most partisan Democrats.
We must continue to hear from the White House in support of Bolton and in support of a stronger UN. We must continue to hear from Senators Allen and Coleman. Most importantly, we must hear from John Bolton himself. When Clarence Thomas was under similar fire more than a decade ago his willingness to stand up for himself won over some who had reservations or who were otherwise indecisive. Bolton must now similarly make the case why the United Nations must change and that he is the man to help President Bush do so.
Aaron Goldstein, a former member of the socialist New Democratic Party, writes poetry and has a chapbook titled Oysters and the Newborn Child: Melancholy and Dead Musicians. His poetry can be viewed on http://www.poetsforthewar.org.
How? They have the power to stop the circus at any time but they allowed it to continue day after day after day.
The Republicans not only don't know how to act like the
majority party -- they look like bufoons. Voinovich was
too lazy to attend half the hearings; Hagel once again
wants to "differentiate" himself and is only concerned
with his own presidential aspirations; Lugar sat there
like a simpleton while Biden and others ranted. Chafee
is acting, as usual, like a moderate Democrat. Powell
was never really on the Bush foreign policy team and he's
now getting petty revenge. It's like tragedy repeating
itself as farce.
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