I swear that there are few stories that just keep giving the way the John Bolton nomination has.
Robert George — a conservative — articulated well the reasons he thinks that the John Bolton nomination is dead, both by formal confirmation by the Senate as well as by recess appointment.
Today, AP’s Terence Hunt tells another story and writes that he heard the White House actually hinting that Bolton would possibly get a recess appointment.
This alleged nuance, reportecd by Hunt, is important because McClellan and others speaking on behalf of the President have never moved beyond their predictable bleat that Bolton deserved and should get an up-or-down vote. They never mentioned recess appointment — or anything that vaguely sounded like it.
I think that Hunt may be overstating the White House’s “hint” of a recess appointment, but McClellan’s words can be read either way. When queried specifically about recess appointments and the U.N., McClellan said “There’s nothing that’s changed, in terms of what we said previously on that at this point.”
Nothing has changed — and yet McClellan made clear in cases where things might have changed — other than in the U.N. appointment — recess appointments may be justified in Bush’s view.
Here is the relevant part of the White House press briefing:
Q Congress is going home in a few days. How does the President approach the question of recess appointments? Does he see that as a sort of last resort, a back door, legitimate approach? How does he approach that question?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don’t want to get into speculating about anything that may or may not occur at this point. There is still this final week before they do recess. There are a number of nominees that I think the Senate is prepared to move forward on. We encourage them to act on those nominees.
In terms of recess appointments, there have been times when the President has used that authority that he has to get people in place that have waited far too long to get about doing their business. And I think that’s the way that he approaches it, that there are important priorities we’re working to advance, and it’s important to have people in certain positions. And if the Senate fails to act and move forward on those nominees, then sometimes there comes a point where the President has needed to fill that in a timely manner by recessing those nominees.
Q Would the U.N. pick fall into that category?
MR. McCLELLAN: There’s nothing that’s changed, in terms of what we said previously on that at this point.
We are getting close to August. The White House has got to figure out whether it end-runs the Senate on Bolton or not.
But there is new material emerging that could finally end this interesting political drama.
More on that soon.
— Steve Clemons