Bush Refuses to Pull Bolton


Despite yesterday’s acknowledgement that John Bolton potentially committed perjury by misinforming the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as to whether he had been interviewed as part of an investigation, Scott McClellan spoke today to Bush’s continued support for the nominee. The full transcript isn’t up yet, but Bloomberg reports:

“We do need a permanent representative at the UN,” [McClellan] said. “This is a critical time,” because of the U.S. strategy for changes at the world body. “Clearly, John Bolton is someone who’s enjoyed majority support” in the Senate, McClellan said.

This line of argument is stale and wrong. First, as Charles just noted, the new revelations, which, to be generous, were hidden from the Senate by Bolton’s negligence, appear to have changed the minds of even some of Bolton’s most ardent defenders. Bolton hasn’t received a majority vote on his merits since 2001, when he was confirmed as Undersecretary of State, and even then it was a strikingly close vote. Cloture votes are not on the merits. Second, there is no reason to believe that Bolton would be anywhere near as effective as acting Ambassador Anne Patterson. It is hard to believe that Bolton would be able to more effectively make the case for reform than Patterson; if given a recess appointment, his claim to legitimacy would be weaker than what she already has. (For more on these arguments, see Don Kraus and Sam Stein at tompaine.com).
According to Bloomberg, Senators Reid and Boxer have called on President Bush to withdraw the nomination. Senator Dodd said the incorrect disclosure was “one more reason why the administration should look for another individual…The cloud over Mr. Bolton’s nomination grows larger and darker with each passing day…”
Meanwhile, Senator Lugar “said the disclosure doesn’t change his mind about supporting Bolton.” Lugar received a phone call from Secretary of State Rice, who told the chairman that Bolton was “correcting the record.” One must wonder if Senator Biden, who’s been inundating Rice with letters, receive the same courtesy.
— Dave Meyer
Update: Thinkprogress points out what appears to be a clear error in McClellan’spress briefing.