John Bolton Vote Today


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up the matter of John Bolton’s confirmation today. He has been working at the United Nations without the blessing of the U.S. Senate for the past year as a recess appointee.
The administration did not like losing this battle, but until now the Dems and a few Republicans had kept Bolton’s confirmation in purgatory until the administration complied with the Senate’s request for documentation about his inquiries into the American names in secret National Security Agency intercepts. The administration still has not provided this information, but the vote will proceed in any case.
Senator Schumer, on this issue, is the enemy inside the tent.

Several of the Democratic parties biggest supporters — financial and organizational — have called Schumer in the last few days to modify his support of Bolton, and yes — he is actively supporting Bolton. One of these mega-funders reported back after a disappointing encounter with Schumer that the conversation would save him “a lot of money” in donations the next year (i.e., Schumer was now int he dog house).
Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and some other Senators have been working hard inside the caucus to make the case against Bolton and to attack the notion promulgated in part by Schumer that “a vote against Bolton was a vote against Israel.”
Schumer’s views on this — as well as the calls from some American Jewish organizations — dangerously conflate the question of Israel’s interests and this Bolton vote. The fact is that Republican and Democratic Ambassadors at the UN have been effective stewards of the US-Israel relationship and of Israel’s interests. To overly personalize this around Bolton is bad policy — and reckless for Schumer to help propogate.
Those opposing Bolton had some hope that Senator Chuck Hagel who has been giving some of the best articulations of a smart American foreign policy would oppose Bolton because the Ambassador is the antithesis of everything Hagel stands for. But Hagel has put out the word that after a phone conversation with John Bolton earlier this week, he has decided to support the confirmation.
I personally know that this is a tough call for Hagel, but I would ask the Senator to ask himself this:

If John Bolton was the Senator, and Chuck Hagel was the nominee — and let’s presume that Hagel had been as clear and articulate about American foreign policy as he recently has — would Bolton vote to confirm Hagel?
The answer would be NO. John Bolton would use his vote to support carbon copies of his own views and that of the wing of Jesse Helms-admiring, pugnacious, international-rejectionists from which Bolton comes.

Senator Lincoln Chafee is really the last Senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who is undeclared — and I have no insight into how he might vote. If this vote were on September 14th, two days after the Rhode Island primaries, I suspect that Chafee would tilt no against Bolton. He already set himself up to oppose Bolton after a brilliant and tough exchange with the unconfirmed Ambassador at the last Bolton session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In fact, Chafee’s questioning of Bolton was the only truly interesting part of that meeting.
But Chafee is in a tight race both in his own party, and then statewide. I think Chafee will beat his challenger in the Republican primary and that he should be bold about this, but Chafee may not feel the same. I fear that Chafee may decide to vote in favor of Bolton today in Committee so as not to anger Republicans in his state — and then to vote against him on the floor of the Senate if the vote is held after September 12th. There is a rationale that could be constructed and marketed for this kind of conflicting set of votes.
However, Chafee may decide that he will get a bounce out of being bold and bucking the administration and voting no on Bolton. I think it would make him stand out as a maverick and help his image enormously.
There will be more to this story even after the Committee vote, so stay tuned.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “John Bolton Vote Today

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  2. Carroll says:

    Frankly, it doesn’t make a gd who is in the UN.
    He or she is going to carry out the wishes of the WH and the Congress…..and both the WH and 70% of congress are sick freaks…..THIS, ladies and your congress:
    US Senate rejects restraints on cluster bombs
    WASHINGTON: The Senate on Wednesday rejected a move by Democrats to stop the Pentagon from using cluster bombs near civilian targets and to cut off sales unless purchasers abide by the same rules.
    On a 70-30 vote, the Senate defeated an amendment to a Pentagon budget bill to block use of the deadly munitions near populated areas. The vote came after the State Department announced last month that it is investigating whether Israel misused American-made cluster bombs in civilian areas of Lebanon.
    Unexploded cluster bombs, anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area, litter homes, gardens and highways in south Lebanon after Israel’s 34-day war with Hizbullah activists. Democratic Sens Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy have long sought to keep cluster bombs from being used near concentrated areas of civilians.
    They say that as many as 40 per cent of the munitions fail to detonate on impact, they can still can explode later, leaving innocent civilians and children vulnerable to injury or death long after hostilities have ceased.


  3. PDC says:

    Does anyone find it odd that over three hours after the Bolten nomination was pulled there has not been one comment by any of the bloggers on The Corner website?


  4. Kathleen says:

    Hurray, no vote on Bolton.
    I’ve spent this week calling the members of the SFRC and other Democratic Senators around the country to ask them to stand by my Senator, Chris Dodd on his promise of a bruising fight on Bolton. I’ve urged them to take a stand and protect the role of the Senate in the nomination process by refusing to vote on Bolton, unless and until they give over the documents the committee requested.
    At this point, a vote on Bolton is not even about Bolton or the US/UN. It’s about our Constitution and preserving the co-equality of the legislative branch. Bush’ abuse of the recess provision was a real slap in the face of the Senate and showed complete disdain for the Constitutional requirement of the Senate’s advice and consent.
    The Senate has a duty to the Constitution to protect the balance of power and allowing Busholini to thumb his nose at the Senate is not acceptable.
    I’d rather Dems get up and walk the hell out, rather than lend legitimacy to a Bolton vote by particpating in a charade. If Dems hang totally tough on receiving the documents they requested, they’ll give up Bolton first.
    In my opinion, the finest moment in current political events was when Russ Feingold got up and walked out on Arlen Spector, rather than be part of a farce.


  5. ahem says:

    All signs point to Chafee, and Lugar is obviously going to accommodate him since the NRSC is behaving as if he’s the key to retaining a Senate majority.
    This makes it especially interesting, though, because if he loses the primary, then he’s freed of any obligation to kowtow to the Club for Growth wing; and if he wins, then he’s looking to the general election and the need to convince RI moderates that he’s… well, Linc Chafee.
    Perhaps in that situation, he’d pull the ‘vote out of committee, but vote against on the floor’ thing. But he could have done that today, unless Frist wanted an immediate debate and vote on the nomination.
    So my gut feeling is that Chafee wants to vote ‘no’, but wants to do it after the RI primary. And Laffey may pick up on that and use it against him.


  6. KCinDC says:

    Hmm, sounds like Chafee must be determined to vote against Bolton, then. If he were going to vote for him, he’d do it and help himself in the primary. How can putting it off make any sense unless he’s going to vote no (which would help him in the general, assuming he wins Tuesday)?


  7. susan says:

    From Firedoglake:
    UPDATE #2: Just spoke with Sen. Dodd’s press secretary about the change in the schedule on the Bolton nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Thus far, there is no rescheduling of the Bolton nomination hearing at all at this point. Sen. Lugar, the chair of the Committee, said today that it was concerns that he heard from a Republican on the committee that caused the delay — in other words, likely Chaffee had issues and his vote is key as to whether Bolton gets out of committee or not. (If you live in Rhode Island, call Sen. Chaffee’s office and voice your opposition to Bolton. It’s also possible that late objections surfaced from Chuck Hagel, but I think Chaffee is the likely pivot point. In fact, just call your Senators and voice your opposition to Bolton, period. You can do so via the Capitol switchboard at 888-355-3588.)


  8. Philphan says:

    Looks like it was Senator Chaffee requesting a delay, likely until after the RI primary.


  9. Pissed Off American says:

    Revisiting the Feaver challenge. Don’t you dare question the official version of what occurred on 9/11.


  10. .... says:

    money trumps the democractic process.. what else is new?


  11. susan says:

    This from Reuters:
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday scrubbed a planned vote on President George W. Bush’s bid to keep John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
    Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, did not explain why the vote on whether to send Bolton’s nomination to the full Senate was removed from the day’s agenda and did not say if or when it would be taken up again.”
    Okay, Steve, what have you been up to?


  12. Pissed Off American says:

    “……request for documentation about his inquiries into the American names in secret National Security Agency intercepts. The administration still has not provided this information, but the vote will proceed in any case.”
    Why would they provide this documentation? The democratic leadership has rolled over time and again when this administration has promised documentaion on a myriad of issues, yet ultimately faiiled to turn them over. Where are the demands for Phase Two??? Where are the demands for the Abu Ghraib photos that were COURT ORDERED to be released, yet have not seen the light of day? A familiar pattern, this. The media gives attention to the Administration’s agreements to turn over documents, giving the ILLUSION that there is some transparency, but then the media IGNORES the fact these agreements are never adhered to by this administration. And the Dems have just ALLOWED it with silence, and no doubt, back room deals.


  13. KCinDC says:

    Anon, you believe that a congressional “no confidence” vote for Rumsfeld would get Bush to fire him? When has Bush ever cared about what the Congress thinks before?


  14. anon says:

    Maybe they should work out a deal — the Republicans allow a vote of no confidence on Rumsfeld and the Dems will allow a vote on Bolton. Likely the Dems, with the help of a few Republicans, would win both votes. But, even if they don’t, would that be a fair trade — give Bush his Bolton, but take away his Rumsfeld?


  15. Thomas Brock says:

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote for Ambassador Bolton has been postponed by Senator Lugar, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee!
    My guess is that the Republicans know that they do not have the votes to move Bolton onto the Senate and have demanded that Lugar delay the vote.
    This is a win against Bolton’s nomination.


  16. J. says:

    I was going to harrass Sen. George Allen’s office, but thought that would be a losing proposition and ultimately have no effect (especially as he is running for his office this year). Very disappointing news about Schumer – just proves out the old Will Rogers’ saying about organized parties and Democrats. I’m definitely going to stay tuned to this subject today.


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