The Poster Child for Anti-Diplomacy

Squeezed May 12, 2005

Yes, it’s not a judicial nomination, and technically it wouldn’t be subject to the all-but-imminent nuclear option. But if ever there was a time for Democrats to go all out to filibuster, the time is now.

Today the Senate Foreign Relations committee voted 10-8, along party lines, to send John Bolton’s nomination to the Senate floor. However, the committee sent it to the floor, minus the favorable recommendation.

Unlike Bush’s judicial nominees, for whom Republicans are all but united, the idea of the pull-no-punches Bolton as U.N. ambassador is giving several GOP members heartburn.

Chief among them is Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, who was probably one of the few GOP voices of reason on the committee. His misgivings on the nomination held up the vote for three weeks, and before ultimately voting to send the nomination to the floor, he all but ripped Bolton to shreds. Referring to his behavior toward his subordinates, Voinovich said:

“This is not behavior that should be endorsed as the face of the United States to the world community at the United Nations,” Voinovich said. “It is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be.”

Listening to NPR on the way home, it was the sound bite of the day. And boy, did it bite. Bravo! I’m glad there are people in the GOP who still care about the United States’ ability to work with other nations.

And even chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana had to qualify his support:

“Secretary Bolton’s actions were not always exemplary,” Lugar said. “On several occasions, he made incorrect assumptions about the behavior and motivations of subordinates. At other times, he failed to use proper managerial channels or unnecessarily personalized internal disputes.”

Of course, Bolton had his unswerving supporters, such as George Allen of Virginia, who said, “We are not electing Mr. Congeniality. We do not need Mr. Milquetoast.”

Yes, Sen. Allen, but we’re not sending Mike Tyson to the U.N. either. If we want other nations to listen to us, it would help if he didn’t bite their ears off.

Sending John Bolton to the U.N. makes as much sense as:

  • Canada electing a Quebec separatist as prime minister.
  • Electing a staunch supporter of school vouchers to a local school board.
  • Appointing a fundamentalist Christian creationist as chair of the National Science Foundation.

And so on.

Democrats are already mobilizing to stop the nomination. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has placed a hold on the Bolton nomination. Whether it will go as far as a filibuster remains to be seen. If one GOP Senator doesn’t like him and three more have serious doubts, I wonder whether he will even have the majority of the GOP senators he needs.

In any case, Bush has already done enough damage to the nation’s international reputation. It’s time to stand up.

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