April 24, 2005

B.D's Voinovich Moment

"I've heard enough today that I don't feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton...Maybe it would be in the best interest of this committee to take a little time". -- Senator George Voinovich, R-OH, last week.

Regular readers know that, perhaps not with the greatest enthusiasm, I have counted myself a Bolton supporter. The reasons were rather simple:

1) A President should be afforded a good deal of deference in the selection of his nominees--particularly his foreign policy ones.

2) Bolton wanted Deputy Secretary of State, which instead went to Robert Zoellick, and so it is fair to say that USUN was a consolation prize for him. One, it bears noting again, removed from the real epicenter of policy-making power.

3) Related to two above, and as Dan Drezner points out, it may be in the long term interests of more moderate Republicans to let Cheney and Co. have their guy get USUN so as to facilitate Condi continuing to amass centrist actors at Foggy Bottom. After all, a high profile Borking of Bolton will have Cheney looking pretty dissed. The Jacksonian-nationalist actors, and some neo-cons, might lash back and make the going rougher for Condi (they are already feeling quite threatened with Feith and Wolfowitz out (the neo-con faction) and Rumsfeld and Bolton feeling much heat (let's call them the Jacksonians).

4) The U.N. itself, something too many Bolton critics are losing sight of amidst all the hearings hullabaloo, is in dire need of a reality check and a no B.S. approach. It's all fine and dandy that we've reached agreements on U.N. dues and so forth--but the Volker report, shall we say, hasn't exactly seen the U.N. covered with glory (and some members of the commission, as B.D. buddy Des Butler reported for the A.P., are concerned the quite unflattering report may still have been overly white-washy). The morally bankrupt and so sad oil-for-food machinations aside, however, there is much more besides re: the U.N. shortcomings. Not least the repeated failure of the U.N. to effectively or even honestly grapple with crises like Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and so on that makes much of Bolton's poo-pooing of said body spot on. Perhaps it behooves us to have a feisty actor pointedly declare that the Emperor has no (or at least few) clothes now and again.

During the Cold War, of course, the U.N. was chronically stalemated by the Soviets and Americans alternately banging shoes on pulpits and pulling out satellite imagery of missiles in Cuba. There was hope, with the end of the Cold War, that the U.N. would no longer be hobbled by the bipolar division of power and could become a more effective force for peace and prosperity. Well, the hapless impotence of the Boutrous-Boutrous' and Yasushi Akashi's of the U.N. too often put the lie to that, alas. And like Andrew Sullivan, say, I think that Bolton did have some of the trappings of a Moynihan or Kirkpatrick type that could bang the world body into better shape. And I still do.

5) Finally, on the pro side of the ledger, the so-called "Nixon goes to China" angle. I do think Bolton is a grown-up and not a fanatical primitive like the Sid Blumenthal's try to spin to so willing audiences over at the Guardian. Indeed, there is already some grumbling from the right by some of our most arriviste apparatchiks ( Yoo, for instance, of defining-torture-down fame!) that a "kindler, gentler" Bolton is emerging. Look, Bolton has been around long enough to realize that he's going to have to show some multilateralist colors up at Turtle Bay. I mean, how can you be Ambassador to the U.N. without engaging in multilateralism? Well you can't--and you don't need to have gone to Yale Law to understand that. The difference is that Bolton will likely push said body to pursue more effective multilateralism rather than a lot of empty talk and wasted meetings. After all, some of the most successful multilateral initiatives, over the years, have taken place outside the ambit of the U.N. as with the Proliferation Security Initiative, NATO, the World Bank and so on. Why not let Bolton try to bring such greater efficiency into an oft-dysfunctional U.N. system that is manifestly in need of urgent repair? Why not let Nixon go to China, in other words?

Well, this is all the good stuff. And I did begin this post suggesting that B.D. had reached a Voinovich moment. To put it plainly, events of the last couple of weeks have forced me to reconsider my support for Bolton. A couple caveats before I dig into the nitty-gritty, however. One of the reasons that people like me are often so turned off by Washington is exactly the cheap spectacles that nominees like Bolton are subjected to. Yes, I take the Senate's advise and consent role damn seriously. Indeed, I am proud that there are still senators like Voinovich who don't march in lock-step with the Party a la primitives like a De Lay who we'd be better off sending back to the hinterlands of TX to revivify his career exterminating pests and other assorted vermin. But there is starting to be too much by way of personal attacks coming out that will doubtless pick up pace. Bolton is now clearly vulnerable and so people are going to do their utmost to move in for the kill in advance of the May 12th committee vote. After all, is it really Steve Clemon's business whether and why and how and for what reason John Bolton didn't get elected to partnership at Covington? And if it was because he hurled a phone around once in a while (which would probably have helped him get partnership at places like this or this--but not at genteel Covington); why, Matt Drudge style, should Steve feel he can post this information from an uncorroborated, anonymous source on his website? It's a tad sleazy, in my view, as we all doubtless have dirty laundry or inglorious professional chapters we'd prefer not to have aired if and when we went before the Senate for confirmation. (This said, I respect Steve's obvious sincerety--he clearly honestly believes that Bolton is a hugely poor pick. But will the Republic itself be imperiled should he be confirmed? It sometimes feels that way reading TWN...).

All this said, however, here's why I've gotten increasingly concerned about Bolton.

1) Like Suzanne Nossel, I don't like Category Four abusers. As Suzanne puts it: "(t)hose who abuse for an invalid justification--for example race, gender, sexual orientation, disability OR for whistle-blowing to uncover fraud OR retaliation for putting forward valid intelligence information."

Now, nothing I've seen yet indicates to me that Bolton has been abusive of anyone for reasons of gender or sexual orientation. Yes, there is a tale about a woman being chased around a Moscow hotel with crude epithets being hurled at her. If true, and she is reportedly not an unbiased source (she has been involved with the Dallas chapter of Mothers Against Bush), the story is worrying indeed. But we don't even have a "he said, she said" at this point. More of just a "she said", really, as I haven't seen any reaction from Bolton yet.

What worries me more is the last prong of Suzanne's Category 4 abuser definition. An Undersecretary of State, or a UN Ambassador for that matter, should not be threatening career professionals as retaliation for putting forward alternate views on intelligence--especially when said views are valid.

For an example of this related to Cuba do see this David Ignatius column. Some money grafs:

Westermann sent Bolton's proposed testimony, in full, to the intelligence community for clearance Feb. 12, 2002. With it, he attached alternative language that in his view accorded better with the NIE. Westermann had frequently suggested similar changes for other colleagues and saw it as part of his job. But Bolton seemed convinced that it was a stab in the back. His chief of staff fired off an e-mail complaining about the alternate language and summoning the analyst to Bolton's office immediately. Westermann e-mailed back that he had provided the same language a few months before for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Bolton was enraged when Westermann arrived: "He wanted to know what right I had trying to change an undersecretary's language. ... And he got very red in the face and shaking his finger at me and explained that I was acting way beyond my position. ... And so, he basically threw me out of his office and told me to get Tom Fingar up there," Westermann testified.

Fingar at the time was acting head of INR and now has the job full-time. He testified that when he arrived, Bolton was still furious, saying that "he wasn't going to be told what he could say by a midlevel INR munchkin analyst," and "that he wanted Westermann taken off his accounts." To their immense credit, Fingar and his boss, INR chief Carl Ford, refused.

And the Cuban biological weapons program that had Bolton so exercised? In 2004, the intelligence community revised its 1999 estimate because it was even less sure Cuba had any such offensive WMD effort. In other words, the mercurial finger-wagging policy-maker appears to have had it wrong, and the cautious analyst who refused to be intimidated had it right. [emphasis added]

Is there a consistent pattern of Bolton bullying analysts that were right (or at least acting with professional judiciousness)? We don't really know yet, though there are certainly indications that a more pervasive pattern may exist. So here's one reason, like Voinovich, that I think we do need to wade through the record more in the coming days.

2) The so-called insubordination angle. Did Bolton purposefully withold information from Colin Powell and Dick Armitage? Looks like yes. Has he perhaps even done this with Condi? Well, again, it looks like he may have:

Bolton's time at the State Department under Rice has been brief. But authoritative officials said Bolton let her go on her first European trip without knowing about the growing opposition there to Bolton's campaign to oust the head of the U.N. nuclear agency. "She went off without knowing the details of what everybody else was saying about how they were not going to join the campaign," according to a senior official. Bolton has been trying to replace Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is perceived by some within the Bush administration as too soft on Iran.

Publicly, Rice has staunchly defended Bolton's credentials and urged the Senate to quickly confirm him. But privately, officials said, she has kept him out of key discussions on Iran since taking over in January.

Speaking of keeping Bolton out of key discussions, and as Laura Rozen points out, others have wanted to keep Bolton out of the loop at times too. And no, not the French--but very good friends of ours indeed.

What else gives me concern, aside from the potential insubordination (so much for the kiss-up; kick down meme, eh?) and the Category Four abuse of those who apparently think of Cuba as more about mojitos than botulinum toxin?

3) Another issue that has given B.D. real concern comes to us from former Ambassador to South Korea Thomas Hubbard (as reported by Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball in Newsweek):

In the first instance raised by Hubbard, Bolton erupted in anger and slammed down the phone when he learned that the ambassador hadn’t arranged a meeting for him with the president-elect of South Korea during a trip to Seoul in early 2003, according to an account Hubbard says he provided in recent days to staffers on the foreign relations panel.

“He was very angry,” Hubbard told NEWSWEEK today in an interview. “He berated me for failing to get him the meeting.” Hubbard said setting up a meeting for Bolton with Roh Moo-Hyun of South Korea, was impractical because James Kelly, who was then assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, had just been to Seoul the week before and had had his own meeting with Roh, carrying a personal message from President Bush. Hubbard added that in addition to hanging up on him when he learned that he wouldn’t get in to see Roh, Bolton also refused to attend a dinner Hubbard had set up for him with other prominent South Korean dignitaries. “It was undiplomatic behavior,” Hubbard said. Bolton declined to comment on the incident.

Look, I can understand an Under Secretary being pissed off he isn't getting face time with a host country President where a lower-ranking Assistant Secretary had just gotten same a week before. I can even get the slamming down the phone part, though it's a bit intemperate (we all have our moments though!). What got me about this anecdote was that Bolton didn't deign to go to the dinner Hubbard had organized with other South Korean dignitaries. Maybe he was sick or jet-lagged or wanted to chill out and watch pay for view for all I know. You know, it happens. But, flippant speculations aside, it's a tad folie de grandeur like to get all sulky and boycott dinners just because the Ambassador didn't get you your little audience with host Prez, no?

On the Hubbard issue, don't miss this either:

Hubbard, now retired, said he has also challenged Bolton’s account of their dealings over a provocative speech Bolton gave about North Korea on July 31, 2003. In the speech, Bolton described life in North Korea as a “hellish nightmare” and described “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il as a “tyrannical dictator,” comments that prompted the North Korean government to denounce Bolton as a “bloodsucker” and “human scum.” In his recent testimony before the Senate committee, Bolton said he had “fully cleared” the speech “within the appropriate bureaucracy” and that after he gave it, Hubbard had told him: "Thanks a lot for that speech, John. It'll help us a lot out here."

Hubbard said that, while reviewing a draft of Bolton’s speech beforehand, he had asked the undersecretary to tone down his comments about Kim Jong Il—changes that Bolton refused to make. Hubbard said that Bolton did make other alterations to the speech as requested, primarily to correct factual points, prompting him to later say to Bolton: “Thanks for making those changes. That will help us with the South Koreans.”

But the former ambassador said he was in no way thanking Bolton for the entire speech or expressing approval of it. “He misunderstood what I said or misinterpreted my comments or mischaracterized them,” Hubbard said. When he heard Bolton’s testimony before the Senate panel on April 11, Hubbard said, “I was not pleased” and he then decided to contact the panel on his own to correct the record. Bolton declined to comment on Hubbard’s remarks about the speech.

One of the reasons B.D. supported Bolton was precisely this plain-spoken, no B.S. language. After all, if life in North Korea isn't a "hellish nightmare" than, what is friends? Really, what? So bully for Bolton for calling a spade a spade. Still, however, I am concerned that Hubbard, a respected player and no showboat, felt compelled to come out and clarify his take on Bolton's speech. It sounds, to me, that he had to lobby long and hard to get Bolton to correct factual errors in the text of his initially proposed remarks. That shouldn't be so hard a task.

So let's review the bidding. There is a lot to commend Bolton as I enumerated at the beginning of this post. But what concerns me is 1) the Category 4 abuse (especially where he is proven wrong); 2) the alleged insubordination, and 3) a potential pattern of undiplomatic behaviour and perhaps overly aggressive analysis of empirical data as made pretty clear by our former Ambassador to South Korea. Add it all up, and it equals a Voinovich moment. It says to me--let's give this a couple more weeks and get more data points assembled. Let's make a more informed call on this one. The problem with this, of course, is that the predictable Washington actors are going to do their damnedest to dig up personal dirt and the spectacle is likely going to become moronic and cheap at times. But, alas, the issues that have been raised are too serious and need to be judiciously examined. After all, the next Ambassador to the U.N. may well face crises with regard to both Iran and North Korea. Needless to say, each of these crises will play out in large part on intelligence related lines. We need someone who will have credibility on intelligence issues. Bolton might, ulimately. But better understanding his reaction to intelligence reports and analysts that don't mesh with his seemingly foreordained or overly-aggressive theses does merit more attention. On the insubordination front, frankly, I'm less concerned about that happening at the U.N. than, say, if he was Deputy Secretary of State. He will be somewhat isolated in New York and, given Condi's relationship with POTUS, must realize it would be foolhardy to try to end run around her.

Bottom line: At this stage, weighing all the considerations as judiciously as I can, I'd probably still lean supportive of Bolton all things considered. But if a more pervasive pattern emerges in the next couple of weeks of more Category 4 abuse of sober, justifiable dissent on intelligence related matters (especially where the analysts, and not Bolton, were ultimately right)--I might start leaning in the "no" direction. Why am I still leaning Bolton? I do think a President should get much deference on picking his national security team. I think tactically it might be good for moderate Republicans to let him get the job. I think he's smart and could be a helpful voice in term of U.N. reform and assorted reality checks the world body needs. And I think he will be relatively contained within the confines of Turtle Bay.

Let's not, in all of this either, lose site of the big picture. The U.N. is going through something of a time of troubles--and frank talk and action is required, big time. Still, like Chafee, Voinovich, Murkowski, Hagel (and non-committee Republicans like Specter) I am, shall we say, concerned. I want to know more. The challenge will be to be fair to Bolton and wade through the information over the coming weeks with sobriety and judiciousness. I'm not sure that will be possible, but I hope the Senate can rise to the occasion. The Joe Bidens of the world, however, give me little faith that will be the case.

Last, can I just say that I disagree with my estimable guest blogger Joseph Britt on his slam of Powell. Powell faced a feisty bulldog in Bolton who, reportedly, tried to end run him quite often. If Senators want to get Powell's take it is well within his rights to give them his view. And in whatever manner, including off the public record, he wishes. Is this Powell's stiletto? Yeah, to a fashion. But you reap what you sow. And Washington is a pretty tough town. Wanna friend there? Get that dog!

Back to the blog hiatus--though I'll doubtless pop out of it again on Bolton as we get closer to the vote. By the by, I don't think we can wholly discount him withdrawing his name late this week or next. I think that is a low-probablity event, to be sure, and we are far from l'affaire Kerik here, but Bolton could just conclude he doesn't really want the job that badly after all. It's not DepSec, as we are all aware, and these Senate hearings must be worse than protracted root canals without the benefit of anesthesia. Still, Bolton is a fighter, and I suspect he will stick this one out.

P.S. And, yes, we'll be keeping an eye on the "intercepts" story too...

P.P.S. Eagleburger weighs in. Pro-Bolton, whom he calls "blunt but effective."

Posted by Gregory at April 24, 2005 08:03 PM | TrackBack (8)

I just don't see how the confrontational style gets people who don't agree with you to do things they don't have to do. It seems to me that Bolton is much more likely to thwart UN reform than help it along.

Want UN reform? Send a Danforth type to NYC, and have Norm Coleman rave at appropriations time. This is not that complicated.

I never supported the guy, but surely the Libya thing is dispositive. If Bolton has to be sent out of the room whenever it's time for the grown-ups to get a deal done, just what is the point, really, of having him at the UN? To signal that we don't want to deal? Or that if anyone wants to deal, they need to call Sec Rice directly?

And just what is the evidence that he is indeed mature enough to know how to act to accomplish the goals of the US? Can you point to a diplomatic victory of any kind? Some place where he's shown restraint in service of a higher purpose?

Posted by: CharleyCarp at April 24, 2005 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And yes, it's not inappropriate for the Senate to give broad discretion to the Executive in both diplomatic and judicial nominations. However, the Executive has a responsibility to exercise its discretion is a mature fashion. Sending JB to the UN fails this test, in my view, as do several circuit court nominations.

Of course the party that made such a big deal about a certain nominee for ambassador to Luxenbourg can hardly complain about the consideration of personal characteristics . . .

Posted by: Charleycarp at April 24, 2005 11:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And of course the small matter that Bolton's freelancing on N. Korea nearly torpedoed the Six Party Talks, which are, after all, only the express policy of the President.

And there's lying to the Committee, which may be prosecutable.

And there's the NSA intercepts, which if the story is right may be prosecutable as well.

Posted by: Doug at April 25, 2005 12:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And just what is the evidence that he is indeed mature enough to know how to act to accomplish the goals of the US? Can you point to a diplomatic victory of any kind? Some place where he's shown restraint in service of a higher purpose?"

How about being key in ending the UN 'Zionism is racism' nonsense?

Posted by: JackC at April 25, 2005 12:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lots to chew on here. Natch, I'm opposed to Bolton and have been for some time. I think he's paranoid, for one. So I would question what Bolton would define as "reforming" the UN. Was he "reforming" Westermann's views?

Posted by: praktike at April 25, 2005 12:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And just what is the evidence that he is indeed mature enough to know how to act to accomplish the goals of the US? Can you point to a diplomatic victory of any kind? Some place where he's shown restraint in service of a higher purpose?"

The point that you haven't heard of any, should be a clue of the lack of seriousness of the whole episode. The Senators in question have done everything possible to actually talk about any policy that Bolton may have done. Instead they've decided to throw as much personal mud at him as possible, hoping desperately both that something would stick, and to avoid talking about his very political opinions!

At the very least, Eagleburger thinks he's accomplished something. And really, after decades within the government, it is hard to believe that someone wouldn't have some sort of legislative or diplomatic accomplishments to point to.

Well, unless they're John Kerry.

Posted by: Cutler at April 25, 2005 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I personally thought Bolton a bad choice from the very beginning, in spite of the fact that as a follower of Colin Gray and Keith Payne I align pretty closely with his views re. arms control and whatnot. On the other hand, I think the tenor of Steve Clemons' (whose output I generally like even when I disagree with it) opposition has bordered on the hysterical. It's a bad choice, it's not the coming of the apocalypse.

Having criticised Clemons, however, I have to say that I resent the received wisdom floating around Bush administration mouthpiece circles that John Bolton is not only the right man for the UN, but the ONLY man who can save the situation at the UN. This is arrant rubbish of the very first order. There are plenty of people who would do just as good a job while managing to tone down Bolton's near pathalogical tendency to rub people up the wrong way. My personal tips, which are just off the top of my head, would be either James Schelsinger or John Lehman. Schlesinger (who is probably too old, I admit) was extremely effective at reforming NATO and, while unpopular with his colleagues at home, he was able to do so while bringing European allies along with him (full disclosure: I'm a Brit). Lehman is equally unwilling to stand BS and cut through the bureaucracy admirably while Secretary of the Navy but again, he lacks Bolton's edge.

Frankly, the only plus point I can see for Bolton is the fact that Larry Eagleberger is prepared to speak for him. The President may pick who he wishes as far as I'm concerned, but let's not pretend that Bolton is the only man in your great Republic who could do the job - the very notion is risible.

Posted by: Anthony at April 25, 2005 01:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An interesting quote from Jim Hoagland's column in today's WaPo:

"Rice has pumped new energy and discipline into a fractious system that languished when she was Bush's national security adviser. She moved quickly to establish clearer definitions and responsibilities for her department in the struggle to eradicate al Qaeda, the Zarqawi gang in Iraq and other jihadists.

That means defining other departments' responsibilities as well. In Bush's first term, bitter disputes -- based in personality clashes and a settling of old scores as much as in substance -- would have handicapped such an exercise.

But internal strife has largely subsided since the departure of Powell and his powerful deputy, Richard Armitage, who skillfully provided background information on the shortcomings of perceived enemies at the Pentagon and elsewhere to congressional and other allies. Here's an interesting coincidence: Armitage was a mentor to virtually all of the State Department personnel whose cases of mistreatment by U.N. ambassador-designate John Bolton were cited in Senate hearings last week, and Powell has pointedly declined to support Bolton."

Posted by: Mrs. Davis at April 25, 2005 02:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I like Bolton even more after reading the New York Times and Newsweek articles from this weekend. However, those articles did start raising some alarm in my about what the hell is happening in our State Department.

I discuss it both issues in my own blog entry.

Posted by: The Indigent Blogger at April 25, 2005 03:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think that you raise quite a number of thoughtful points about Bolton, and I respect your reasoned advocacy for him. We disagree quite a bit about the factors that matter in such an appointment -- and it is his reckless with national security matters that I think is most consequential. I agree with Pete Domenici that Bolton was delinquent in his last job and spent too much time on crusades and too little on his non-proliferation portfolio.

The issue you raise here thought about whether it is my business or not to try and learn about the Covington & Burling rationale for not taking Bolton back is significant though. I believe that if credible information makes its way to me -- and I have tested the veracity of it to my satisfaction -- then I will post it. In this particular case, I also sent the information to other journalists and to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the hope that the individual involved would go public. I did the same with a person, now named -- Jeremy Gunn -- who had a collision with Bolton at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

If you look at the entire record of complaints against Bolton, you will see that there were numerous ones that I never posted -- either because I just wasn't sure that the claims were credible or believable, or because I thought that the claims were distractions from what really did matter in the Bolton nomination.

As I have written, I believe that his deception during his testimony would be enough in normal circumstances to end this fiasco. I think that the NSA intercepts will either end his efforts or help give cover to those who want to get him through.

But this is clearly complex. I do think that the battle over Bolton is now more about him and the U.N. It is about the White House's fear of losing -- and they have taken a person we cannot collectively feel proud of to help in serious reform efforts of the U.N. I think he's going to have a hard time earning the trust of major member nations of the U.N. in his efforts -- and he's going to have a hard time gaining the trust of people like me with what he is doing. He's a flawed candidate.

In any case, I just wanted to jot some points here. I like your blog -- and the seriousness of it. Thanks for considering some of my proposals in the Bolton battle as well.

All the best,

Steve Clemons

Posted by: Steve Clemons at April 25, 2005 03:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh you can't make this stuff up ... Bolton's latest accuser:


Finney is an "expert in recovered memories" who accused her own father of molesting her after "recovered memories." Go look at her website. She's a new age loon, ala Doonesbury's "Hunk Ra." Really, you HAVE to visit her website. It's like a cliche of loony-tunes new age nonsense. Conservatives will have a field day with this one.

Democrats want an Alan Alda "sensitive guy" who won't make Kofi upset. I mean, it's like the Party wants a label called "pathetic girly man" around their national security policy.

BD -- the latest on the Volcker Commission is that two senior investigators have resigned because the Commission's report is a coverup. AP and www.rogerlsimon.com have the latest. Take your pick.

So Tony Blair didn't like Bolton's solution to Libya? Tough luck, Tony, Bolton DOESN'T REPRESENT THE UK. He represents the US. If Bush had a problem with that (he didn't) he wouldn't have sent Bolton up for appointment. John Kerry did NOT win the election, carping about that is pointless.

A LOT of the opposition to Bolton is his role in ending the "zionism is racism" resolutions in the UN. Most of the Democratic Party, the Left, and the Paleocon Republicans like Powell, Chafee, Scowcroft, etc. who opposed the Iraq War also opposed THAT effort (on the grounds that it would "rile the Arab street" and discomfort our "friends" like the Saudis or Mubarak).

Let's face it, the opposition to Bolton that he might upset people at the UN is laughable, it paints the Democratic Party (and paleocon Republican allies) as lip-biting, "I feel your pain," Clintonian frauds. There's no sexual scandal (Clinton, Kerik) or financial misdoings (Kerik, Clinton again, etc) or anything else other than he yells at people and made some enemies (the Scowcroft faction, basically). Note that Alexander Hamilton had tons of enemies, getting things done has always entailed this.

John McCain on CNN endorsed Bolton and noted that he too, has been accused of having a temper, and if yelling at people disqualified you from public service the entire Senate would have to resign.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at April 25, 2005 05:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(1) Why would you expect "a helpful voice in term of UN reform" from someone why wants the UN impotent and discredited?

(2) "so much for the kiss-up; kick down meme, eh?" No, that just shows that in his own mind Bolton was never working to Powell but for Cheney.

Posted by: Robert McDougall at April 25, 2005 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's also not forget that Suzanne's "Category 4" is a non-starter for an argument and was debunked on Day 1 of the Bolton hearings. The folks over at Democracy Arsenal have been so focused on a kinder-gentler UN ambassador they've become an echo-chamber for the half-truths and misrepresentations surrounding the Bolton hearing.

Let's review Bolton's misuse of language in his speech. Technically speaking, he was not authorized to use the language he did, but the language he did use had certainly been cleared by intelligence for other speeches. Bolton just cut-n-pasted into his own speech from another, previously approved speech. Even Carl Ford, one of Bolton's half-assed accusers agrees on this point:

Mr. Ford: "The history of the words on B.W. in that speech were, as I understand it -- Secretary Bolton invited the intelligence community to provide him with some words that he could use in a speech on B.W.

He was very careful, I think, not to suggest words to the community for clearance. He asked them, 'What do you think? What do you say?' So they came up with the lines in the speech and presented those back to INR to take back to Secretary Bolton for his use.

As I understand it, his speech was postponed. I wasn't aware of this. I had a requirement on short notice to come up and brief the committee on C.W., B.W. worldwide.

Apparently, those words that had been approved for Mr. Bolton were picked up by my staff to insert in my presentation to the full committee, and so that I then presented that information that had been cleared by the I.C.

When it came time for Mr. Bolton to give his speech a month or two later, he then took the same language that had been approved earlier by the community and stuck it into his Heritage Speech.

But those words were our words -- the intelligence community's words, not his."

Let's also review Bolton's so called retaliation towards someone who disagreed with him:

DODD: This is a good one. Tell me about the process in this.

As I understand the process, you tell me where I'm wrong -- that your office says to them, "This is what we want to say," the three sentences. And that they then -- it would come back to Mr. Westerman anyway at some point, to make a determination as to whether or not that was right or not.

Where's the backstabbing here -- if in fact he sends the language he would suggest to you? How is that backstabbing you?

BOLTON: Senator, I don't know the ins and outs of the process. I don't pretend to. It is what staff does. I'm not an expert on it.

That's why, as I said this morning, and I don't really have anything to add to what I said this morning, but it's why I went to Mr. Fingar and said, "What's going on here?"

And at the time, the day of the incident, Mr. Fingar said that Westerman's behavior was, quote, "entirely inappropriate," close quote. He said, quote, "We screwed up," close quote. And he said twice, "It won't happen again."

I didn't try to have...

DODD: Would you recall...

BOLTON: ... Mr. Westerman removed.

Yeah, go ahead and read the whole days testimony and pay close attention to the stupid lawyer tricks used by Dodd. Whenever Bolton looks like he is going to explain a key accusation, Dodd changes to subject and demands Bolton explain technical procedural policy rather than actually allow him to answer the accusation. Oh, and if you want to really see some belligerent abuse, take a look at Kerry's treatment of Bolton. This is our U.S. Senate at work.

Posted by: The Indigent Blogger at April 25, 2005 07:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You know what Greg, Sen. John McCain also has problems controlling his anger too. Remember all the talk re it while he was running for prez in 2000? You think most of this "he should seek anger management" talk was fair to Mr. McCain?

and do you think this "anti-McCain type" of smear campaign agaisnt Bolton is fair too?

btw, it's nice to see the Republicans have guys like McCain and Hagel to speak out against GOP extremism. Too bad the Dems don't have any McCain type moderate in their ranks to tell them that what they're doing to John Bolton is disgraceful and destructive.

Posted by: john marzan at April 25, 2005 08:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

.... eeeeeeehem!


From John McCain’s endorsement of John Bolton on the Senate floor:

“I’d like to say that I strongly support Mr. Bolton’s nomination. He has been confirmed by the United States Senate four times in the past. He is a smart, experienced, hard-working and talented and he knows the U.N.”

“If temper and unorthodox management style were a disqualifier for government service, I would bet a lot of people in Washington would be out of jobs. It’s worth wondering not whether he is a mild, a genteel diplomat, we know he is not. But rather whether it is a representative we need at the United Nations. We need an ambassador who truly knows the U.N. We need an ambassador who is willing to shake up an organization that requires serious reform.”

Posted by: john marzan at April 25, 2005 10:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Testing comments with URL:

Posted by: Tom Eberle at April 25, 2005 11:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm pretty much a political neophyte, but a junkee none-the-less. Some thoughts. Lincoln Chaffee commented (and I paraphrase) that he wasn't sure most Americans knew or cared about John Bolton. One 'big picture' aspect that I think might be being overlooked here is how the American public at large is going to react to this extremely contentious debate over Bolton's nomination, and they are reacting.

I'm frankly surprised that Bush&Co. would send over someone like Bolton. This is an administration (for the record, I'm a liberal democrat) who have probably run the slickest, most impressive and most effective PR campaign in American political history. They knew that most americans don't pay too much attention to detail, that 'style' almost always trumps 'substance' and have used it to brilliant effect. This is why I'm amazed that they seemed to be blind-sighted by this one.

I think this is a huge miscalculation by the Bush White House because I believe that most of the American public is going to remember the 'serial abuser' bosses they've had in their lives, remember the truly anguished sense of injustice they felt and, right or wrong, relate to Bolton in that way. They will then ask themselves why in the world George Bush would want to nominate someone like Bolton in the first place?

With their popular support numbers taking so many hits lately, I can't see this boding well for the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Patrick at April 25, 2005 02:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I forgot to add quote marks.

it should have read: Sen. John McCain also has "problems controlling his anger" too.

Posted by: john marzan at April 25, 2005 02:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Over a decade of naivete, groupthink, and wishful thinking in the intellegence community and national policy-making apparatus is identified by the 9-11 commission and others as in need of immediate and drastic reform. Everything these commissions want changed seems to be something John Bolton was already doing. And for this we're supposed to kick him out the door because a handful of disgruntled bureaucrats don't like him?

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot...it's well-past time to stop coddling dictators do-nothing bureaucrats. B.D. you're too smart to fall for this nonsense. I'm disappointed in you.

Posted by: crazy at April 25, 2005 06:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The arguments of the Bolton supporters don't exactly make sense. They say we need a real "tough guy" to reform the UN. Critics point to a whole series of episodes where his tough-guy tendencies got out of control, and argue that it could be a disaster if Bolton became ambassador and acted the same way.

Bolton defenders say that would never happen because he would follow Bush and Rice's orders as to when to be tough and when to be conciliatory. Well, maybe. But even if this is true, the fact is that any competent diplomat could do the same. And that being the case, why do we need Bolton, and in particular when he is carrying a lot of baggage from the past that other reasonable candidates don't have?

I think many Bolton supporters just hate the UN, and they hope he will undermine it by playing his wild-man game.

Posted by: Les Brunswick at April 26, 2005 02:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

B.D. You should be ashamed of yourself. What you've had is more like an Andrew Sullivan moment–from which he will never recover. Hopefully you will.

Posted by: frank at April 26, 2005 02:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It seems to me that everyone has forgotten what Bolton's job will be --- ambassador.

THe UN ambassador is the United States' most visible diplomat. The UN diplomat represents the US in front of the entire international community on a daily basis, and defines the US relationship with the rest of the world on a daily basis.

Most importantly, the UN ambassador's job is to work WITH diplomats from other nations toward common goals of peace and prosperity. This means that the UN ambassador will be working on a daily basis with people that don't agree with him on a whole range of issues.

Does anyone really think that John Bolton is suited for this task?

Its all well and good to talk about the need to "be tough" and "bang some heads" in a hierarchal organization where everyone is answerable to the guy at the top of the pyramid. A hard-nose administrator who is not afraid to piss some people off is often necessary to reform entrenched bureaucracies that are no longer effective in both government and the business world.

But the UN is not that kind of organization, and John Bolton's "my way or the highway" approach will not work in an organization where the overwhelming majority of participants are not answerable to Bolton, or Bolton's superiors. And Bolton's tendency to try and have people disciplined who are not directly answerable to him make it clear that he is the wrong man for the job.

I don't think that the US standing in the international community has ever been lower, and the US needs someone who can sincerely communicate that the changes the US wants to see made in the UN are advantageous for the entire inernational community, not just the USA. Bolton is not that person.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 26, 2005 12:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The world already thinks we are a nation of pricks and spoiled brats...well, let's just prove 'em right!

Bolton for UN Ambassador!

Posted by: Neodude at April 26, 2005 03:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In repose to: Most importantly, the UN ambassador's job is to work WITH diplomats from other nations toward common goals of peace and prosperity. This means that the UN ambassador will be working on a daily basis with people that don't agree with him on a whole range of issues. Does anyone really think that John Bolton is suited for this task?

He apparently is suited for that task since he has proven it in the past by helping to force the repeal of Resolution 3379 and the approval of Resoltion 678.

Also, the fact that Bolton may think some departments, such as the UN Human Rights Commission, deserve to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up would put him in complete agreement with Kofi Anan and Human Rights commissioner Louise Arbour.

At a time when the United Nations has finally admitted to having a problem and needing reform, we need someone like John Bolton there to make sure it is the beacon of human rights it was intended to be, rather than the defender and excuser of tyrants and butchers that it has become.

Posted by: The Indigent Blogger at April 26, 2005 03:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

He apparently is suited for that task since he has proven it in the past by helping to force the repeal of Resolution 3379 and the approval of Resoltion 678.

unfortunately, Bolton's habit of taking credit for things that he was not responsible for (see Libya for example) makes claims regarding Bolton's effectiveness rather dubious....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 26, 2005 07:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In response to: unfortunately, Bolton's habit of taking credit for things that he was not responsible for (see Libya for example) makes claims regarding Bolton's effectiveness rather dubious....

Bolton didn't take credit for those activities. His former boss, Lawrence Eagleburger attributed those accomplishments to Bolton. On the other hand, both the UK Foreign Office has denied the event surrounding the alleged clash between Straw and Bolton.

Contrary to raising doubts about Bolton's qualifications, this entire episode is calling into question the credibility of journalists reporting on the story.

Posted by: The Indigent Blogger at April 26, 2005 07:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

indigent blogger:

"no recollection" is standard code for, er, we did ask bolton to get off the libya account...straw's statement could have been much more persuasively delivered. like, never once did we ask the talented and wonderful john bolton to not attend meetings etc etc. it wasn't done this way, and this speaks volumes. trust me dude, the brits don't dig him! perhaps you don't care about those p*ssy brits, and that's all well and good tough guy. but let's not spin straw's statements into some love-in moment between Whitehall and Bolton. it ain't.

Posted by: anon at April 26, 2005 07:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anon, you could be absolutely correct. And if you think ultimate diplomats like Colin Powell never butt heads with our allies over policies that directly effect the security of the United States; you're not paying very close attention.

I can certainly imagine that Bolton has been upset and animated over policy arguments. Even Colin Powell expressed public disappointment over France's unhelpful behavior prior to the invasion and Iraq as well as their decision to oppose sanctions against the Sudanese government. Powell also battled the European negotiators trying to talk Iran down off the nuclear weapon fence.

The last thing the U.S. needs, the last thing the U.N. needs right now is someone that will just negotiate down to the most watered language upon which everyone will agree. That is not diplomacy! And that is certainly not in the best interests of the United States.

Posted by: The Indigent Blogger at April 26, 2005 08:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bolton didn't take credit for those activities.

I suggest that, in the future, you read Bolton's testimony before making such categorical statements

Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 27, 2005 03:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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