Paul Richter reports that Bolton’s nomination will be far more contentious than originally expected and that the Democrats, for the first time, will most likely unanimously oppose a Bush administration diplomatic choice.
Democrats are likely to vote unanimously against John Bolton when his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations comes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week, according to Democratic and Republican lawmakers and aides.
It would mark the first time committee Democrats unanimously opposed a Bush diplomatic nominee and would put the nomination in peril if Republicans defected to vote against him.
But Republicans say they believe the outspoken conservative will win solid GOP backing in the committee, including from moderate Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who has voiced reservations about Bolton’s nomination to be UN ambassador.
The split on the panel is one of several signs that the proceedings, set for April 7, will be acrimonious. Advocates have organized letter-writing and ad campaigns for and against Bolton.
For example, former Sen. James Sasser and two other retired American diplomats added their names to an anti-Bolton letter distributed Tuesday to Foreign Relations Committee members. Sasser is a Democrat who was former President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to China.
The two other former diplomats who signed the letter, raising the total to 62, were Patricia Byrne, deputy U.S. ambassador to the UN under former President Ronald Reagan, and John Hirsch, ambassador to Sierra Leone in the Clinton administration.
The good news is that the Dems, including Feingold who still is not rock solid against Bolton, are united, and this was not the case three weeks ago.
The other good news is that the stakes are rising for Chafee. Patrick Kennedy announced yesterday that he was not going to challenge Chafee in the next Senate race. Now, Chafee needs to shore up his credentials with his Rhode Island Democratic Party supporters and a vote for Bolton may be more consequential than he thinks.
Chafee is weighing in his mind, I bet, judicial appointments vs. John Bolton. He’ll probably vote against the most outrageous judicial nominees — and feels inclined to support Bolton and give that one to the right-wingers in his state
But that is before we had the larger story (reported in passages below) on Bolton and his long-term role as Jesse Helms’ attack dog, a person with an ethically-challenged record running or working in various think tanks, and his record defying demands of Congress.
I think Chafee, when confronted with the whole picture and not the gloss or the talking points handed to him by the White House and State Department, is going to have a hard time explaining WHY he would vote for such a person as one of our nation’s most important emissaries to the rest of the world.
I think the same thing about Chuck Hagel — who has already said that he wants to see more of the whole picture now — and said that after his words of endorsement.
We have a week to go before the hearings — and Senator Hagel and Senator Chafee need to hear from those of you who care.
Just ask them to read this material — to look not only at Bolton’s comments on the United Nations, but his entire record.
— Steve Clemons