May 01, 2005

Sign of the Times

Some people, of late, have been landing at B.D. via this Google search. Now we know why. Yes, the knives are out--and people are looking for dirt. It's not surprising, of course, but it's worth pointing out nevertheless. Clearly some oppo research types are looking around for Bernie Kerik style disqualifiers. Too often with these nomination fights--debates over substance get lost and cast overboard in favor of dirty laundry and the sensational. That's very unfortunate; albeit woefully predictable. Steve Clemons claims he doesn't want to play this game. Look, I have to say I've been impressed with TWN's monomaniacal coverage of the Bolton going-ons. Some of his stuff has likely even been a contributing factor spurring on B.D.'s Voinovich moment. And Steve's sincerety and passion are obvious. To be sure, a good deal of his coverage--perhaps predictably given his rather obsessive treatment of it--has veered into the hyperbolic. Witness: "That is why beating John Bolton is so vital. It is....all about saving our democracy." Er, let's get serious, shall we? This said, all in all, I think Steve has been a pretty responsible and intelligent voice throughout l'affaire Bolton.

But now Steve is taking things to a different level. And while this might earn him some plaudits amidst some of the Kos-like nasties on the hard left (read some of the comments generated by his post..."whatever it takes to take him down" pretty much sums it up)--I don't think it's going to do him favors in more sober circles.


What happened to the first wife, Christine Bolton?

I have not spoken to Christine, but she seems to be a non-entity in the many proliferating Bolton profiles, but at the same time she is clearly a well-thought of person and friend to some of Washington's most distinguished personalities. I have dozens of messages from people noting what a wonderful person she is, and in sort of a hush-hush, you-know-what-I-mean, kind of tone, these friends of the first Mrs. Bolton imply a brutal, complicated, abusive marriage.

I want to know more of the facts because if Mr. Bolton has had a hard time controlling himself over the years, the evidence might reveal itself in his first marriage to a woman who was also a professional and who apparently worked at the Department of Commerce.

Steve structures his post as something akin to a warning shot across the bow. Wanna talk about how nice a guy John is on a personal level? Well, don't open that Pandora's Box he ominously avers. But this is constitutive of the rankest smut-peddling, sadly. After all, the mere fact that a Danielle Pletka or Veronique Rodman is on the record saying that Bolton is nice to the computer guys at AEI isn't an invitation for bloggers like Steve to start digging up dirt on Bolton's first marriage. That's just despicable, and while Steve says he's not going to go down that road, he very unfortunately enthusiastically invites others to do so:

But at this time when the hyper-conservative John Bolton was developing his political base, he was also allegedly involved in somewhat risque private behavior -- that I hesitate to say more about here. Those close to his former wife have alluded to it, and I believe that the Morally Intolerant Right Wing of the Republican circuit that is now pushing hard for John Bolton would back off if details of Bolton's off-line behavior that involved his then wife were known.

The problem that the White House faces with Mr. Bolton is that he has now become a known face, remembered, and those with memories of him and his past are out there.

I'm not going to say more about this now. If I have stumbled across these stories, others have as well -- and I have worked hard to validate that there was something real to them and have learned that to be the case... [ed. note: Does it sound to you like Steve has, just like that, "stumbled" across these stories? What with all the hard work validating and such...?]

...The personal stories abounding in the press now are an effort to white-wash some of the concerns about and "humanize" the Bolton we have seen operating the last four years in the Bush foreign policy team. But if personal tributes are going to start abounding, then the picture needs to be complete.

The media should investigate questions about his first wife, their marriage, and what some of their friends consider to be quite cruel treatment by him of their relationship. This is a story that others should pursue. I cannot.

Well how noble of Steve! And disingenuous in the extreme. After all, and as far I can tell, Steve is the first individual with quasi-respectable credentials to have published information that John Bolton may have some major personal skeletons. This has nothing to do with his ability to serve as our Ambassador to the U.N., of course, and everything to do with trying to kill off his nomination via some sensationalistic National Enquirer-ish media maelstrom played out amidst the increasingly cretinous media organs that bless our shores. Steve has today basically come out to invite the press and other bloggers (but, bien sur, not high-brow Steve!) to dig into Bolton's personal life. But you can't have it both ways Steve. Egging on the sleaze mongerers is pretty much just the same as sleaze mongering yourself. And you're better than that, right?

Look, for me, the Bolton nomination comes down to two or three things, in the main. One, has he showed a pervasive pattern of unfairly disciplining those who disagreed with him on intel assessments (especially when those he allegedly threatened were right on the facts)? He certainly didn't cover himself with glory on the Cuba front. He was aggressive on Syria and Iraq. Was it totally over the top? I'm not persuaded yet. Two, is there a pattern of insubordination more profound than a few fist-fights with Richard Armitage as Dick Cheney's mole at State? Maybe, as I've broached a bit before. Let's dig into that a bit more--keeping in mind he's very far from the 7th Floor at Turtle Bay so there will be much less room for going forward insubordination. Three, and I think it's fair, at least to some extent, to characterize the concerns of the John Whitehead Manhattan establishment types like this--is this gruff, sometimes intemperate, stand-with-Jesse-at-the-gates-of-hell, aggressively-moustachioed son of a Baltimore fireman the right man for us at USUN? Well, hell, he just might well be... a la son of Hell's Kitchen Daniel Patrick Moynihan! Still, can he be a bit too much of a loose canon causing difficulties at sensitive junctures with allies as during, reportedly, the Libya/UK situation? Maybe, but such inquiries have to play out solely as related to his professional, work-place conduct. These are the factors that have B.D. witholding a final judgment for now. But, certainly not, Mr. Bolton's first marriage. Shame on Steve for inviting the press to dig into this non-relevant fare. It's quite slimy, I'm afraid.

Posted by Gregory at May 1, 2005 07:11 PM | TrackBack (3)

I was uncomfortable with this as well.

Posted by: praktike at May 1, 2005 07:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Someone familiar with how Google works may be able to explain this. If you go to the search Greg references, one of the sites linked to is this one. The language quoted I recognize from my own introductory post here, which ended by mentioning subject I would never, ever, write about, including Jane Fonda and the British royal family.

A subsequent post began by referring to the opening statement on the Bolton nomination by Sen. Lugar. The first post didn't mention Bolton at all, and the second didn't contain the word family at all, but the Google search -- family life "John Bolton" -- still directed googlers to this site.

Posted by: JEB at May 1, 2005 07:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JEB: I hear you but that's not really the point. The point is that people out there are googling "family life" and "John Bolton". The intent is clear; and Steve's post of today showcases that oppo types are digging for dirt. The subtleties of the google search engine or how they got here is, at least per the parameters of my post, not of concern.

prak: good on you.

Posted by: greg at May 1, 2005 08:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


despite the overwhelming evidence that supports the charge that Bolton was a "serial abuser" in his previous jobs, the White House continues to deny the charge. That, unfortunately, leads to the pursuit of further evidence to support the "serial abuser" accusation --- and that, inevitably, will lead to his (apparent) abuse of his first wife, Christine.

Bolton is clearly, and unquestionably, the wrong person for the job of UN Ambassador. He simply hasn't got the temperament for diplomacy, and he consistently tried to manipulate events to suit his own priorities, rather than that of his superiors.

The reality is that most of Bolton's strongest supporters acknowledge that he is unsuited for the job --- his strongest supporters are those who want to see the UN destroyed.

Face it, if Bolton was a Clinton nominee for some key position, everyone on the right would be screaming bloody murder about the guy, and how unsuited he was for any job whatsoever.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 1, 2005 09:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One final note....

Remember James Hormel. The guy that conservatives refused to allow a vote on as Clinton's ambassador to Luxemborg because he was gay?

Now, if being gay is sufficient cause for right-wingers to deny someone the ambassadorship to a tiny European nation, why isn't John Bolton's personal life --- and apparent abusive behavior toward his first wife --- fair game?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 1, 2005 09:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

P. Lukasiak: "despite the overwhelming evidence that supports the charge that Bolton was a "serial abuser" in his previous jobs, the White House continues to deny the charge"

Sorry... I find this evidence distinctly UNDERwhelming!

Posted by: mamapajamas at May 1, 2005 09:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"despite the overwhelming evidence that supports the charge that Bolton was a "serial abuser" in his previous jobs"

Bolton is probably not as abusive as congrescritters are to their staff. I'm sure working for Sen. Leahy is like walking in the park:)

Posted by: jrdroll at May 1, 2005 11:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have become a fan of BD and like the irreverance and candor here -- even when it comes to stuff that I have written or spoken about.

I just want to say to those folks who are debating this question about whether or not it's appropriate to point to questions in John Bolton's personal life that this is a complex and serious issue. I wonder myself if what BD says -- that I have prompted a sleazy slide into the debate on Bolton -- is true.

I am very uncomfortable delving into the issues that I outlined today. I felt compelled to atleast raised the line of questioning for several reasons, and I admit that they may be lacking -- but here is what was going in my mind.

First, the LA Times and New York Times biosketches were weak. They took quotes from people who were closely connected to Bolton -- particularly Danielle Pletka whose husband currently works for Bolton. But these were historical and personal vignettes of the man that did not reach back into his activities with the National Policy Forum (itself a bit of a sleazy venture) nor into his attack-dog roles for Jesse Helms...nor did they mention at all that he was previously married, which any reasonable profile should have mentioned.

I have been made privy to some of what went on with his first wife -- and I admit that this is not my story to tell. She may never want the story told -- but there are big question marks and circumstances that surround this situation that other Washington insiders know a lot about. The major media has done little to explore this -- and I think that they must if they are going to delve into the soft and fuzzy side of what made John Bolton who is today.

This is a very fine line. And I admit that there is a difference between opposing John Bolton on policy grounds as opposed to personal grounds. BD makes the point that I chose a strategy that was not principled today -- and that was all about "winning" this battle. I don't think I did that, but it is a quite reasonable assumption for others to think that.

In any case, I am rambling a bit here -- because these are very complicated matters -- and those of us in the blogging world have few lines of credibility to begin with to begin tearing apart the ones we do have.

Given the serious treatment of the subject here -- I wanted to let those of you debating this -- either castigating the profiling of the personal, or applauding it -- that this was a complex and perhaps incorrect decision. I am ready to admit that I am not so confident that this was the right thing to do -- but in the absence of more serious journalism, I felt that I needed to point a direction that the "personal story writers" were missing.

All the best,

Steve Clemons

Posted by: Steve Clemons at May 2, 2005 12:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There's plenty of information that justifies Bolton's nomination being pulled. He clearly lied in his confirmation hearings.

But the Bush administration and GOP are still pushing him. Well, if the principled arguments don't carry the day, don't whine when the opposition takes it to the next level.

The GOP is talking about preventing the Dems from conducting filibusters to prevent a few extremists from being made judges. And the GOP is liberally lying to make its case.

It's a little hard to take the Republicans seriously when they complain Dems are somehow being unprincipled.

Was it unprincipled for Republicans to privately use the Juanita Broderick rape allegations against Clinton to swing the needed votes to send the impeachment to the Senate? Did you hear any Republicans criticize this at the time?

"Politics ain't beanbag." The GOP has spent over 30 years telling itself it was so wronged by Roe v. Wade that any abuses of power were justified. Bush v. Gore? Delliberately disenfranchising Blacks in Florida and Ohio.

The Dems aren't qualified to lead the country if they can't play hardball.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg at May 2, 2005 01:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thought experiment:

If Bolton had this kind of dirt on a Clinton nominee he was working against while at AEI, how would he use it?

Would he even consider the option of showing restraint because of his principles?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg at May 2, 2005 01:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Carl: Can the old Florida 2000 crap. It doesn't fly any more.

I live in Tallahassee, Fl, where most of the legal hasseling was happening. There were things in the local news that national/international news never picked up and never reported.

One of the things that was never reported is that the Democrats in the Florida Legislature, with daggers drawn to GET Jeb Bush ANY way they could, started interviewing people from contested areas in a full investigation of the 2000 election.

They could find NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON who wanted to vote who was somehow "disenfranchised". They were getting all sorts of stories about how, "... my mother's brother's cousin wasn't allowed to vote because he was stopped by State Troopers..." and how "... my friend's neighbor was taken off the voter rolls because his name was mixed up with a felon..."

But the actual person with the grievance was never found... most likely because this crap was just runaway rumor. People whose names were removed from the voter rolls in error because of supposed felonies were notified by mail and had three months to correct the error.

The nonsense about State Troopers intimidating voters turned out to be a case of one Miami-Dade city police officer who stopped a black driver for a moving violation. The man was written a ticket and sent on his way in plenty of time to vote. The police officer testified before the State Legislature and had a copy of the ticket in hand when he arrived, showing the time it was written.

Remember, we're talking about Democrats who were out to GET Jeb. They found nothing. Jesse Jackson came down here accompanied by a lot of media hullaballoo to look in on the Legislature's investigation, and quietly sneaked out the back door when no one was looking. Why? Because nothing was found.

Florida 2000 is an excercise in how rumors spread and grow out of proportion. The MSM should NOT report rumors at all until there's been a confirmation.

Posted by: mamapajamas at May 2, 2005 02:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...there are big question marks and circumstances that surround this situation that other Washington insiders know a lot about."

Now, Steve C., you wouldn't consider naming those "insiders," would you?

Frankly, I'm not so concerned about details of John Bolton's married life not appearing in the press. Steve's idea of serious journalism and mine may differ on this point. But let me remind those with short memories of the Tower confirmation fight that brought such discredit on the Senate 16 years ago. In that episode lots of "question marks and allegations" about John Tower's private life were raised, in public, and left raised. No one ran any stories about "question marks and allegations" that turned out to have no substance, and only later did it become clear that many of these could be traced back to Tower's embittered first wife.

There is a place to consider issues of this kind, and that place is behind closed doors in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At some point Senators have to be trusted to do their jobs. I understand that outside the Senate there are Democrats anxious to score a victory of some kind right now. Maybe they will get it and maybe they won't, but they need to consider that victories won by stooping to personal rumor and worse aren't usually worth very much. People may recall who wound up at the Defense Department after John Tower's nomination was rejected.

Posted by: JEB at May 2, 2005 03:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks, mamapajamas. I live in Florida, too. I never saw more crap spread so thin by Democrats in my entire life. However, what happened in Florida paled in comparison to the conspiracy theories that they tried to peddle about Ohio in 2004.

There were roadblocks set up in Leon County, Florida, on election day in 2000. They were traffic violation stops, set up by the Leon County Sherriff's Office. All the folks pulled over were white.

If you've seen one Diebold Machine, you've seen them all....

Posted by: Section9 at May 2, 2005 03:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Realistically, there is nothing to stop Democrats from pursuing this line, and it looks like they will. The biggest issue they have is that Bolton does NOT put the UN before the US, they are not willing to make that the public issue (since most of America doesn't either) and hence the looks into Bolton's private life.

However, that cuts both ways. It will cut deeply into Hillary Clinton's private life, as people demand to know the details of her private life, particularly regards Dick Morris's allegation that she is a closet Lesbian. It will cut into John Kerry's private life, and the detailed issues of his divorce, for example did he cheat and with whom? It will cut into every other candidate's private life, Democrat and Republican. Once unleashed you can't call it back, and to my mind it's been unleashed.

As for some of the allegations against Bolton, one analyst falsely sent a cover letter saying the State's Intelligence and Research Bureau had disproved Bolton's Cuban bio-weapon assertions in a prospective speech. In fact it had not, and the analyst's superior apologized for that blatant lie. The facts were in dispute, and there was no consensus opinion. So much for "bending" analysis.

State and the CIA are pretty much mainline Democratic institutions, inclined to "moderate-ism" and various permutations of the Powell Doctrine and opposed to Bush personally and ideologically. It's not surprising that Bolton had problems with people who were ideologically opposed to the policies he had been tasked by the President for carrying out. Bush has supported Bolton because he has carried out his policies. It's why he's nominated. The LAT cites one example, Bolton was given the task of getting countries receiving US military aid to exempt US soldiers from ICC prosecution. He did so vigorously, over the disputes of State Dept. which had an opposing brief to get diplomatic support for the Iraq War. Bolton's fault? No. His boss's fault, name of Colin Powell, who didn't care much for adjudicating the disputes.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at May 2, 2005 05:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory, for twenty years or more the Republican party has been pushing the line that "character" is the most important test of any person's fitness for public office. To hear that "character" is now off limits is a bit rich.

How many times during the Lewinsky business were we told that if the man couldn't honor his oath to his wife, how could we trust him with the public's business?

Further examples abound.

One of the more cynical remarks I've been seeing on the Democratic side of the aisle lately is getting abbreviated to IOKIYAR: It's ok if you're a Republican. The implication, of course, is that for Republicans, voting Republican excuses anything else, that Republicans have no principles higher than party loyalty.

And that, to me, is the test that Bolton poses for the Republicans on the SFRC. Are there principles higher than party loyalty? Is there anything at all that would disqualify a Republican for a Senate-confirmed position?

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2005 07:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Though from another perspective, I have to feel good about the Bolton nomination. If Bolton really is the best the Republicans have to offer, Democratic management of foreign policy isn't going to have much in the way of competition.

Spare a moment, too, for upper-echelon Republican foreign-policy people. The ones who have played by the rules. The ones who haven't been attack dogs for Helms. The ones who haven't run foreign-financed lobbying shops. The ones who haven't tried to get people fired for disagreeing with them. The ones who haven't freelanced and forced the rest of the government to clean up after them. The ones who don't throw telephones. The ones who don't spread lies about contractors.

Spare some sympathy for those folks, because they have been told loud and clear which approach their president prefers. They're about to find out which approach their congressional party prefers. I imagine there are dozens of senior practitioners, with decades of experience and Republican preferences, who could have been nominated for UN ambassador instead. They've learned, in the clearest way possible, that their way is not valued at the highest level. At least not by Republicans.

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2005 08:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'd have to agree with Doug. The ship has long since sailed on whether or not 'character' questions are fair. After Lewinsky and Swift Boat Vets, the policies and tactics of personal destruction for political gain are now as permanent and unchanging as the rhythm of the tides and turning of the seasons. It'd be nice to think that the best interests of the US and its citizens could take precedence, but if that was the case Bolton wouldn't have even been nominated.

Posted by: cynical joe at May 2, 2005 08:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wrote that post in the middle of the night.

I have now reread it in the light of day.

Sorry to disappoint, whilst I am a peace-loving little Buddhist who wishes pain and suffering on no man....I have no regrets with what I wrote.

1. The purpose of the UN was and remains, to stop wars. Not start them. To save lives, not squander them.

2. Mr. Bolton only seems to have one tool in his grab bag. A big hammer. And thus, to him every nuanced situation closely resembles a nail.

To my post:

The essence of my "whatever it takes to take him down" sentiment - which you snippeted out of the fuller context is this:-

In a world in which spying on ANYBODY is permissible - including other UN ambassadors etc. and EVERYBODY has peccadillos in their personalives they would rather not see exposed.....

....and in a world gone crazy in which the STATED AIM of the neoconservatives (of which is he a fully paid up member), is FULL SPECTRUM WORLD DOMINATION.....

Then I conclude, the risks of Mr. Bolton getting the position and using the full arsenal of NSA intercepts, spying, wiretaps, bribery, blackmail, strong arm tactics and coercion in an obviously corrupt bribable UN - more likely than not leads to more wars on false pretexts and the unnecessary death and destruction of thousands more innocents...

Weigh this against the necessarily debatable "small town gossiping" morality question, and many sane observers would agree that to briefly stoop in the gutter and pick up a small but potentially salacious knife with which to assasinate just his more than justified. Which "character" obviously needs a makeover anyhow.

Unlike you, by implication in your well-written post, I see NO REASON to give Mr. Bolton the benefit of the doubt. Managerial style or not. Kiss up Kick Down stories or not (par for the course).

It is his political philosophy, his utter contempt for the organisation he is supposed to participate in build up, and strengthen, (rather than tear down and rebuild in his monopolar world vision image), his willingness to pervert the truth in the service of this warmongering ideology and finally, because it has received scant attention thus far - the kicker:- his absurd 19th century smile-hiding Wyatt Earp mustache which more than disqualify him. ;)

As none of these compelling reasons seem to be having the desired effect in the halls of political discourse, something aimed a little lower - below the belt, will have to be attempted.

I stand by my post and by extension, Steve Clemon's mentioning the story in the first place.

Finally, now you have my attention, just for fun. Let's use a bullfighting metaphor.... the picadors have done their thing, the bull's neck is weakened from the pain of the banderillos, his head is now lowered....the matador has worn down the bull further provoking its own propensity for aggression against it, and they're now at that precious moment.

The final standoff.

They stare at eachother.....the crowd hold their breath.....and you want the matador to pat it on the nose and say all is forgiven, when a single merciful thrust of a sharp blade puts an end to the affair and the bull can die. Alone. In the dust?

Posted by: jpwillis at May 2, 2005 02:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's just really sad that, whereas someone as incompetent as Bolton has an excellent chance of Republican support's pushing him into this appointment, he would be OUT if we had reliable reports that he was a cokehead in college.

I agree with BD that personal issues ought to be off limits. But if the Republicans are going to utterly disregard the substantive issues, and the media's going to follow suit, then the temptation to go personal becomes understandably powerful. CNN doesn't give a flip whether Bolton's a failure as a diplomat, or whether he twisted intel reports, etc. ... but they do care about all the personal dirt that one can unearth.

The collapse of the news media into a branch of the entertainment industry is dragging this country down faster than the Dems & Repubs combined.

Posted by: Anderson at May 2, 2005 05:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


It could be argues that the Democrats - by standing lockstep on this one -- are also ignoring the substantive issues. And that lockstep stance is really why we're here. The Dems, to win, must make enough Republicans believe that Bolton is personally unfit, or believe that their constituancy will rise in revolt if they vote for the guy.

For whatever reason, the charges regarding whether Bolton abused those who were gathering intelligence haven't gained enough traction to persuade enough GOP senators to abandon the guy. So what's left? The sort of slime that will (in their imagination) cause the GOP fundamentalists to demand his retraction.

In this case, Anderson, do not blame the media. Blame those who would rather win on the Bolton nomination than do what's right. And, should whatever emerges be of sufficient ickitude, you'll also be able to blame the internet dozens who have nothing now better to do now that the Jeff Gannon tale has slid into obscurity.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at May 2, 2005 07:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Over at the Washington Note, Steve is busily posting Republicans who would be better ambassadors to the UN than Bolton. I have the feeling it's going to be a long and distinguished list.

Why is the Bush administration settling for anything less than the best America has to offer?

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2005 07:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It could be argues that the Democrats - by standing lockstep on this one -- are also ignoring the substantive issues.

no one the least bit acquainted with the Democratic party would claim that the Dems are marching in "lockstep" and ignoring substantive issues.

Getting Democrats to follow the party line is like herding cats. Cats will all go in the same direction when they are hungry, and someone opens a can of tuna. The evidence in the Bolton case is that "can of tuna".

For whatever reason, the charges regarding whether Bolton abused those who were gathering intelligence haven't gained enough traction to persuade enough GOP senators to abandon the guy.

the White House is placing enormous political pressure on the GOP member of the SFAC -- When Bush and Cheney stop the political pressure, and tell the GOPsters to vote their consciouses after considering all the facts, then you will have a point.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at May 2, 2005 09:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As incompetent as Bolton?

The problem isn't that he's incompetent, it is that he's very competent, as Biden once told him.

He represents the US, not the US. That's the problem.

Posted by: Cutler at May 2, 2005 11:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"no one the least bit acquainted with the Democratic party would claim that the Dems are marching in "lockstep" and ignoring substantive issues."

You're a propagandist.

These hearings haven't been about policy for the simple reason that the Democrats don't want it to.

Playing the apologee for Kofi Annon won't win them votes in Middle America.

Posted by: Cutler at May 2, 2005 11:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You'd think out of 275 million people the Republicans could have found someone more competent than John Bolton.

Could it be that all the moderate competent Republicans want nothing to do with President Bush? I mean, John Danforth, who was incredibly qualified resigned and said he wanted nothing to do with any job in Bush's second term.

It seems to me that this Bolton nomination signals a big problem for Republicans, and it has nothing to do with whether or not Bolton is a nice guy.

Posted by: Radical Moderate at May 3, 2005 09:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Beyond the fact that all this talk about how Bolton isn't "competent" doesn't seem to have a lot of basis, and the fact that there are plenty of people with at least euqlly abusive histories complaining about the mote in Bolton's eye (yes, I am talking about Ted Kennedy, who I've seen say more abusive things on TV than the sort of things Bolton is supposed to have said in private), I've got to ask:

Have the Democrats lost their minds completely?

Let's say, for argument, that they were to block Bolton's nomination. They will have then spent weeks of air time and god alone knows how much political capital with the red states --- who still, remember, dominate both the popular vote and the legilative branch --- and what will they get from it? They'll get ... someone else in the UN? Probably someone as dedicated to reforming the UN. AND someone who will be working for Condi, who, one suspects suffers neither fools nor freelancers gladly.

Or, if they fail, they've expended that much effort and bluster, they have Bolton in the UN anyway, where he's no longer a consumer of pre-analyst intelligence, no longer has a line into the inner workings of Foggy Bottom, and who is still working for Condi.

While presenting themselves, once again, as people who will go to any length, rake any muck, and try to destroy anyone who disagreees with them politically.

What in the name of God do they think they're going to get from this? There's no conceivable payoff --- execpt the childish pleasure of making trouble on the fringes of the Administration that has beaten them into the ground.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at May 4, 2005 03:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A couple of points to mention here...

1) Yes, some people on the fringes in the GOP did say about Clinton, "How can we trust a man who cheats on his wife to be president, etc." But the bulk of the argument was that he lied in a deposition for a lawsuit that was filed under the very law he signed into effect on sexual harassment. It showed a disregard for the rule of law. Now, I don't think that impeachment was good for the country (for one, I think that it distracted his administration from dealing with potentially growing threats like al Qaeda). But let's just get the record straight as to why Clinton was impeached. His lack of character was directly related to being able to govern a country. He believed that he could flaunt the very laws he was putting into effect just because he had power.

2) Bolton is not a neoconservative, at least not according to any definition of neoconservative I can think of. Bolton is just a conservative plain and simple.

3) Ted Kennedy killed a woman. He still gets to be Senator, though.

4) Look, there is still no corroborating evidence for any of these charges of being a madman, etc. This is just an example of Democrats digging dirt for the main reason that they disagree with Bolton. If that's what their beef is, then why don't they have the courage to say it. My guess is that it will become clear that their approach to foreign policy is borderline incompetent, as compared to that of the Bush administration (which there is a lot to criticize about... this is what makes the Dems' incompetence in comparison even worse).

5) I agree with the guy who asked what the Democrats gain from all of this. I really think nothing much. If it's not Bolton, it will be another hard-liner. Then, the Democrats will have to get into a debate as to whose view of the UN is better. I am not sure that they will win that battle, especially with Oil-for-Food and other scandals getting very very interesting.

Posted by: Yevgeny Vilensky at May 6, 2005 09:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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