As I have said many times on this blog, I do like Senator McCain — though we clearly disagree on the “fitness” of John Bolton to pursue American national interests if confirmed as Ambassador of the U.S. to the United Nations.
John McCain is a radical centrist and is one of the few moderates in the Senate occasionally willing to stand up against wrong-headed White House policies — though clearly McCain and TWN still have several significant differences.
Bolton is wrong on so many fronts. He has been reckless with intelligence and irresponsibly abusive towards intelligence analysts, undermined his boss Colin Powell, engaged in dangerous brinksmanship with problem nations while delicate negotiations were underway to “tie down” their burgeoning WMD programs, and has a long tenure in many positions of not respecting Congress or the importance of the separation of powers. Slice practically anywhere in Bolton’s career and serious problems are immediately apparent.
Today, Senator McCain told TWN that there are very few circumstances that a nominee appointed by the President should be blocked. He repeated the oft-repeated phrase, “The President deserves to have the team he wants.”
McCain believes that if a person behaves in ways inimical to the national interests of the nation, the nominee should be blocked. He or she should be rejected for ethical problems as well.
However, John McCain did block the appointment of Michael Wynne, then acting Pentagon acquisition official, because of McCain’s demands that the White House turn over all information, email, correspondence, and other communications on the Boeing tanker lease deal.
McCain may have viewed Wynne’s actions in the tanker deal controversy as such that met the Senator’s bar for “unethical behavior.” In this case, Wynne had been appointed by the President in a recess appointment, and then shortly replaced after McCain’s refusal to let his nomination proceed.
Senator McCain is a straight-forward guy, and TWN knows that nothing we scribble out here is likely to change the Senator’s mind on John Bolton. However, all we can suggest the Senator to do is to move beyond what is in the popular press on Bolton and go refresh his memory on three parts of Bolton’s past that certainly do raise questions about Bolton’s ethical framework.
First, read the Waxman File on Bolton and the Niger/Uranium fiasco at State.
Second, reacquaint yourself with Bolton’s role running the National Policy Forum — which eventually lost its non-profit status in part because of the combination of foreign money and RNC-support activities mounted by the one-time non-profit organization. The place was run in such an ethically-challenged manner that Bolton’s predecessor, Michael Baroody, quit — and gave testimony in the Senate on the problematic governance at the National Policy Forum, of which Bolton was the next CEO.
Third, while few have mentioned this in recent Bolton debates, does it not strike you as ethically challenged, Senator McCain, that John Bolton prepared testimony and papers paid for by the Government of Taiwan and failed to disclose these to those Members of Congress before whom he was testifying?
Bolton has frequently misled (at best) or lied (at worst) to Congress — and this should raise some interest on your part about his ethical disposition.
Senator McCain, you were asked by Senator Frist to stand with him on the Bolton nomination — calling for an up/down vote.
Some of your fans are now calling on you to scratch beneath the surface of this Bolton nomination. Invite some of us up to your office to share with you quick vignettes on Bolton’s tenure — not only as Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control — but throughout nearly ever corner of Bolton’s career.
If you gave us an hour, we could give you 60 one minute vignettes of Bolton misjudgments, recklessness, hackery, and ethically-challenged behavior.
60 distinct problems in 60 minutes. . .
Shouldn’t you avail yourself of such information before jumping in so deeply into John Bolton advocacy.
Your position on Michael Wynne and the manner in which you championed the public interest in exposing the administration’s fraud on the Boeing tanker deal seems oddly in conflict with your Bolton stance.
TWN is happy to help with the 60-minute briefing if you are interested.
And thanks Senator for reading the blog.
— Steve Clemons